John McCain pre-empted a conservative backlash against his stance on immigration in a speech to the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce today:

“I’m not running to do the easy things,” McCain told the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce in a speech. “I defend with no reservation our proposal to offer the people who harvest our crops, tend our gardens, work in our restaurants, care for our children and clean our homes a chance to be legal citizens of this country.”

“We have proposed a remedy that, while imperfect as all compromises are, is nevertheless a serious, comprehensive and practical attempt to secure our borders,” he said.

“I would hope that any candidate for president would not suggest doing nothing,” McCain said. “And I would hope they wouldn’t play politics for their own interests if the cost of their ambition was to make this problem even harder to solve … pandering for votes on this issue, while offering no solution to the problem, amounts to doing nothing — and doing nothing is silent amnesty.”

He’s getting his talking points and straw-men out into the forum of public opinion before the GOP debate tomorrow night. He’s got a point: A bi-partisan (and McCain-Kennedy was certainly bi-partisan) approach to the problem is preferable over a ham-fisted approach from the left or right. But I don’t know where he gets the idea that other conservatives don’t have any ideas of their own.

I’m pretty sure that building a wall across the border of the United States constitutes doing “something” — something infeasible, something exorbitantly expensive, something stupid — but something nonetheless. McCain is going to have to execute more impressive rhetorical acrobatics than what he exhibited today to defend his borderline liberal policy on immigration. Who knows — maybe his campaign staff could benefit from outsourcing.

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