Skip to 43:30 for the key bit. Offhand, I don’t think I’ve ever heard him put it this way before. The “de facto amnesty” line is an old chestnut, the line about people in the shadows is a very old chestnut, but the idea that America has actually dishonored itself by dragging its feet in rewarding endless millions of people who broke U.S. law with citizenship is a new one on me. I wonder, does it mitigate the dishonor any that we amnestized them once already in 1986 and will surely do so again sometime soon? How much contempt for our own law do we need to show before the stain is expunged?

Does this guy … not care at all how this rhetoric sounds to people skeptical of comprehensive reform? Per his own logic, given the depths of dishonor we’ve already sunk to in trying to enforce our own borders, I can’t imagine why we would insist on any new security measures as the price for approving mass legalization. If there’s no way to deter people who are already here from staying — “they’re not going home” — why are we even bothering with E-Verify? It’s impossible to watch this and not conclude that the only reason McCain and his allies agreed to beefier security in the Gang of Eight bill was to sweeten the deal politically for skeptics, not because they think that security will work. Or even want it to.

And by the way, when I say it’s coming soon, I mean soon:

House Speaker John Boehner theatrically mocked his fellow Republican Congressmen for being afraid to reform immigration policy when he spoke Thursday before the Middletown Rotary Club in his home district.

“Here’s the attitude. Ohhhh. Don’t make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard,” Boehner whined before a luncheon crowd at Brown’s Run County Club in Madison Township.

“We get elected to make choices. We get elected to solve problems and it’s remarkable to me how many of my colleagues just don’t want to … They’ll take the path of least resistance.”

The House primaries will be over in June, at which point there’s nothing stopping Boehner from bringing a bill to the floor except his own fear of being deposed as Speaker. And maybe he’s not as fearful of that as we think.

Note, by the way, that McCain vows he’ll try to have any immigration bill that passes Congress named after Ted Kennedy. That smells like a cheap applause line given that he’s speaking here at Harvard’s Kennedy school of government, but he’s said it before. He means it.