Obama, Clinton Dump Border Wall in Debate

February 22, 2008

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Most interesting thing in tonight’s debate?

I thought that the most interesting development was the discussion around the border fence, better known as “El Muro de La Muerte” (The Wall of Death).

Asked about their previous votes for the infamous wall, both Obama and Clinton backed away from their votes.

For her part, Clinton was the most creative in terms of the grace and intelligence with which she danced the Border Wall Flip-Flop; She used a recent border visit to launch her epiphany,

CLINTON: And having been along the border for the last week or so — in fact, last night I was at the University of Texas at Brownsville — and this is how absurd this has become under the Bush administration. Because, you know, there is a smart way to protect our borders, and there is a dumb way to protect our borders.

(APPLAUSE)

And what I learned last night when I was there with Congressman Ortiz is that the University of Texas at Brownsville would have part of its campus cut off.

This is the kind of absurdity that we’re getting from this administration. I know it because I’ve been fighting with them about the northern border. Their imposition of passports and other kinds of burdens are separating people from families, interfering with business and commerce, the movement of goods and people.

So what I’ve said is that I would say, wait a minute, we need to review this. There may be places where a physical barrier is appropriate.

I think when both of us voted for this, we were voting for the possibility that where it was appropriate and made sense, it would be considered. But as with so much, the Bush administration has gone off the deep end, and they are unfortunately coming up with a plan that I think is counterproductive.

So, when all else fails, blame Bush was Clinton’s approach as well as Obama’s:

OBAMA: Well, this is an area where Senator Clinton and I almost entirely agree. I think that the key is to consult with local communities, whether it’s on the commercial interests or the environmental stakes of creating any kind of barrier.

And the Bush administration is not real good at listening. That’s not what they do well.

(LAUGHTER)

And so I will reverse that policy. As Senator Clinton indicated, there may be areas where it makes sense to have some fencing. But for the most part, having border patrolled, surveillance, deploying effective technology, that’s going to be the better approach.

Their change of vote and mind says much about the rapid rise of Latino electoral power this year. No one, not even most Latino pundits, had any idea of the force with which Latinos entered this election. And, unless he wants to further push the Republican party into the desert of Latino voter backlash, John McCain will not be able to exploit the Democrat’s Border Flip-Flop. The Arizona Senator who supported and then rejected legalization already has some immigration flip-flopping of his own to deal with.

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