Border security makes for strange resemblances. Who knew that Barack Obama would come to look so much like John McCain? And who knew that McCain would come to look so much like J.D. Hayworth? The prospect of an election has that effect on politicians--now everyone wants to be a hawk on border security.
Better late than never, of course, but it's worth remembering who came late to the cause of defending America--because late converts might be temporary converts.
In fact, it wasn't so long ago that both parties, their elites at least, shared a great resemblance on border issues. Both were enamored with open borders, as part of a general enthusiasm for globalization. Top Democrats celebrated globalization under the banners of multiculturalism and "transnationalism"--although if Wall Street made a few bucks on offshoring schemes, that was OK. For their part, top Republicans celebrated globalization under the banner of the "free market"---although once again, if Wall Streeters made money on, say, the Dubai Ports deal, that was fine with many top GOPers.
In such an elite political climate, open borders made perfect sense, because fatcats in Greenwich or Bethesda never know when they will need another nanny or landscaper.
But while the benefits of open borders were being reaped by the elites, the price was being paid along the border, as Arizonans and others know full well. And there are more Arizonans than there are fatcats. When the majority is finally roused to speak with a clear and consistent voice on an issue, politicians pay heed, because they have to.
So Obama is now talking tough on border security. Send in the troops, says the commander in chief. Indeed, Obama is talking tougher now than McCain was, even two years ago. I wouldn't be surprised, even, to see Obama slowly back away from his criticism of Arizona's new immigration law, just as he backed away from his commitment to try Khaled Sheik Mohammed in Manhattan.
Yes, elections have that effect on politicians. But the people should remember that the pols will go back to their old ways, as soon as they think they can get away with it.
James P. Pinkerton is a Fox News contributor and the founder/editor of Serious Medicine Strategy.
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James P. Pinkerton is a Fox News contributor. He worked in the White House domestic policy offices of Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He is also the editor of CureStrategy.org.