Obamateurism of the Day

Does Barack Obama read bills before he criticizes them? Heck, Obama doesn’t even read bills when he supports them, as ObamaCare proved. But it’s more than a little embarrassing that Obama continues to criticize the Arizona immigration enforcement law over provisions it doesn’t contain and issues that have already been resolved. Byron York explains:

At a Cinco de Mayo reception at the White House Wednesday evening, President Obama launched another attack on Arizona’s new immigration law. “We can’t start singling out people because of who they look like, or how they talk, or how they dress,” the president told the crowd. As he had in earlier criticisms of the law, Obama ignored the law’s specific stipulation that any check on a person’s immigration status can only come after a “lawful stop, detention or arrest” when a person is suspected of breaking some law — that is, as Arizona lawmakers explained in a footnote to the bill, it must come “during the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state.”

The original bill specified “lawful contact” as the point where law-enforcement officials could check on residency status, a legal term that never meant “whenever police felt like it.” When complaints piled up that this language was too vague, the Arizona legislature amended it as York notes above. Police can only check residency status when they have probable cause to detain someone on another issue. And as York also notes, the law clearly states that valid forms of state-issued ID puts any probe of residency states to rest immediately.

That didn’t keep Obama from doubling down on Cinco de Mayo:

Make no mistake, our immigration system is broken. And after so many years in which Washington has failed to meet its responsibilities, Americans are right to be frustrated, including folks along border states. But the answer isn’t to undermine fundamental principles that define us as a nation. We can’t start singling out people because of who they look like, or how they talk, or how they dress.

He’s right. Fortunately, the law in Arizona doesn’t do any of those things, and no one ever suggested it had anything to do with the way people dress at all — which Obama would know if he actually read the law he was criticizing. But there is a high school in Morgan Hill that probably could use that lecture after their own observance of Cinco de Mayo. Can we count on Obama to scold the Live Oak High School administration on the civil rights of dress codes?

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!