Friday, August 13, 2010

E. J. Dionne goes off the deep end

E. J. Dionne writes a decent column from time to time. But for the most part his job description might as well read "partisan hack."

A few days ago he wrote a column that . . . well it's not really clear. In part he takes offense to use the phrase "anchor baby," which is fair enough as the term is misleading. But he also takes a few pot shots at Republicans and, I think, is defending birthright citizenship, although he really just begs the question on it.

Besides being unclear and unimportant, the column suffers from:

1.  a big distortion

He quotes from the 14th amendment here:
the 14th Amendment's guarantee[s] citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States"
 But, as with any legal debate, the exact language is critical. The full text is "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens." Why does he leave out the clause that is he basis for the entire debate? Is he afraid he might be wrong or just trying to manipulate readers?

To put this in context, it's like a conservative writing a column that says "the 2nd Amendment's guarantee of the right to own guns." Of course, not everyone thinks that 2nd amendment does guarantee that right to own an assault rifle and it's worth including the clause about the necessity of a militia. You can see how Dionne would object to writing like that and how he applies a double-standard to himself.

The double-standard thing, however, is a habit. He opens his column by claiming that "rather than shout" he'll be civil, yet his entire column is mocking and offensive, employing epithets like "racial demagogues." Likewise, in his web chat with readers, a commentator notes that the author of the citizenship clause didn't intend for it to apply to foreigners. Dionne replies that "You can't just use a single quote from a single Senator and say that settles the question." He proceeds to quote one historian and leaves it at that.

2. he also suggests a disbelief in whether "anchor babies" exist

It would be shocking if Mexicans who lived close to the border didn't come here en masse to have children. If I were a parent I would. Most parents are demonstrably willing to suffer a great deal of hardship to give their kids a better life, like one with access to much higher paying jobs, better higher education, and a much more generous welfare.

It's well know that many Asians, who have a lot less to gain coming from comparable rich countries, spend a lot more to come to the U.S. for brief periods, often just so that their children will qualify for easier access to American universities and financial aid. (Male children of South Korean, Taiwanese, and Singaporean parents also get to avoid avoid serving in the military.)

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