Writing in the New York Times about the Nevada rancher who has become a media star by refusing to pay the grazing fees he owes for running his cattle on federally owned land, Timothy Egan observed: “Easterners, especially clueless ones in politics and the press, have always had a soft spot for a defiant white dude in a Stetson.”
Barry Goldwater used to occupy the celebrity spot that Easterners reserve for crusty and irascible Westerners. When I was a reporter in Arizona in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, I used to marvel at the fawning over Barry Goldwater. I figured it was a way for the “Eastern establishment press” to demonstrate their capacity to be tolerant of those whose politics they abhorred, as long as the rough edges were smoothed by some salty wisecracks and some straight-shooting, anachronistic romanticism.
John McCain (R-Ariz.) holds the chair now. Today on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” he basked in the deference and admiration of Joe, Mika, and Jon Meacham as he demanded that President Obama get tough with Vladimir Putin and praised Jeb Bush’s compassion for illegal immigrants.
I wouldn’t have used the words that Jeb Bush used. I would point out, as I have 10 thousand times, that we are a nation of immigrants, that 11 million people living in the shadows is not going to be resolved unless we act in a comprehensive fashion, that some of the greatest contributors to our society and our nation are people who came here from someplace else. And the Hispanic or Latino is just the latest wave of people who have come to this country for a better life, and I think that’s what Jeb Bush was saying. If I were Jeb, I would have said we need to secure the borders. We need to have it done. And we can by the way. We have the technology to do that. And we can have E-Verify where if someone goes for a job they’ve got to have the right ID card. But we can do that. Frankly, I admire Jeb Bush.
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