When I asked McCain if he meant to imply that bill opponents are irrational and emotional, he answered, "I didn't mean to imply that at all."
I am not the first person to wonder if Bush, McCain and Democrats who support Kennedy-Kyl would have stood a better chance getting an immigration bill passed if they simply had called the bill an "amnesty" measure and made their case to the American people.
McCain would have none of that. He repeated his argument that the Kennedy-Kyl bill is not an amnesty bill for illegal immigrants -- because they would have to return to their country of origin, learn English and pay a fine. The status quo, he added, represents "silent amnesty," as it allows an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants to stay in America anyway.
Points well taken, except "silent amnesty" does not confer citizenship. As former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said at the last GOP debate, "It's simply not fair to say those people get put ahead in the line of all the people who've been waiting legally to come to this country."
Besides, the Senate began work on this bill with the goal of legalizing illegal immigrants -- not with an eye toward beefing up border enforcement.
And voters know that. On Wednesday, CNN's Jack Cafferty repeated the bogus narrative: "A new poll shows a majority of Americans support allowing illegal immigrants to become citizens if they pay fines, learn English and meet other requirements. How will this affect the stalled immigration bill?"
The answer is: It will have no effect whatsoever, because Washington pols know what many journalists cannot begin to grasp. American voters don't want this bill. They want less, not more, illegal immigration.