Obama and Arizona’s Republican Gov. Jan Brewer got together this afternoon in the Oval Office for a meeting that I’m sure was nice and uncomfortable for both of them.
According to a Readout from the White House, Obama vowed to stem illegal immigration, understood everyone’s frustration, “partner” with people and yada yada yada.
The statement only gets to the good stuff at the end, when it finally addresses what must have been the big elephant in the room, Arizona’s new immigration law. Opponents say it will promote racial profiling. And of course on this, Obama was as careful as, well, as careful as a former law professor.
Regarding Arizona law SB1070, the President reiterated his concern with the measure, including that a patchwork of different state immigration regulations around the country would interfere with the federal government’s responsibility to set and enforce immigration policy.
So the big problem is of course just some kind of technical issue, like FBI guys might accidentally shoot local undercover police who were doing the same sting operation, or state and federal bureaucrats might get their red tape mixed up. Nothing on whether state police are going to be dragging busboys out of restaurants and shipping them back over the border because they said something in Spanish.
Why so polite? Because the White House is towing a nice and careful line on this. It doesn’t want to make Hispanic voters mad, and it doesn’t want to make voters who cling to their guns or religion mad again – i.e. average white voters concerned about excessive immigration and too-rapid cultural change – and possibly lose Arizona and other places in 2012.