Faced with polls showing the Arizona immigration law is really quite popular nationally, the White House is touting its lawsuit to quash the measure as a brave embrace of principle.
Here’s Gibbs from today’s White House briefing:
I think if you look at the polling that all of you all have done on this law in the short term, it’s pretty safe to say that the president did this because it was the right thing to do, not because it was the popular thing.
Yes, I’m sure the president believes it’s the right thing to do, and the administration certainly wants to establish the point that federal statute trumps state law on immigration so that it can pass sweeping immigration reform – one day. But to try to strip this of politics is disingenuous.
Obama needs a bone to throw to Hispanics, and this is it. Gallup is showing a 12 point drop in his approval rating among Latinos this year, down to 57 percent. Obama knows he’s not serious about doing comprehensive immigration reform in 2010, since his version of the bill is not particularly popular and the Democrats certainly don’t want extra controversial legislation to run on.
So if you put your Axelrod-Plouffe hat on for a second, it’s pretty easy to discern that short of making Spanish a second U.S. language, this is what Obama needs to do. He will be partially harmed by this lawsuit, but many of those angered are already pissed at him for other reasons. Obama must at least take a stand against a law many Hispanics probably believe will lead to racial profile
“The president did this because it’s the right thing to do,” Gibbs repeated. And – what did you leave out? – politically the right thing as well.