First she sounded sympathetic to the idea during a televised debate, and within moments had refused to endorse it. Afterwards, she changed her mind and endorsed it. Now today, after Governor Eliot Spitzer shelved a plan to issue New York drivers licenses to illegal aliens, Hillary Clinton shifted her position yet again to oppose the idea entirely:
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday came out against granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, after weeks of pressure in the presidential race to take a position on a now-failed ID plan from her home state governor.
Clinton has faced criticism from candidates in both parties for her noncommittal answers on New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's attempt to allow illegal immigrants in his state to receive driver's licenses. Spitzer abandoned the effort Wednesday.
"I support Governor Spitzer's decision today to withdraw his proposal," Clinton said in a statement. "As president, I will not support driver's licenses for undocumented people and will press for comprehensive immigration reform that deals with all of the issues around illegal immigration including border security and fixing our broken system."
People laughed at John Kerry for saying, "I was for the $87 billion before I was against it." He looks like the Rock of Gibraltar next to Hillary Clinton. She has now taken four different positions in two weeks on a single topic.
Let's review them all. First, Hillary says this to Tim Russert:
MR. RUSSERT: Thank you, Brian.
Senator Clinton, Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer has proposed giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. You told the Nashua, New Hampshire editorial board it makes a lot of sense. Why does it make a lot of sense to give an illegal immigrant a driver's license?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, what Governor Spitzer is trying to do is fill the vacuum left by the failure of this administration to bring about comprehensive immigration reform. We know in New York we have several million at any one time who are in New York illegally. They are undocumented workers. They are driving on our roads. The possibility of them having an accident that harms themselves or others is just a matter of the odds. It's probability. So what Governor Spitzer is trying to do is to fill the vacuum.
After Chris Dodd reminds her that driving is a privilege and not a right, Hillary backpedaled:
Do I think this is the best thing for any governor to do? No. But do I understand the sense of real desperation, trying to get a handle on this? Remember, in New York we want to know who's in New York. We want people to come out of the shadows. He's making an honest effort to do it. We should have passed immigration reform.
The next day, the campaign made the following statement, noted at The Caucus:
“Senator Clinton supports governors like Governor Spitzer who believe they need such a measure to deal with the crisis caused by this administration’s failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform,’” her campaign said.
Mrs. Clinton’s aides said her statement was intended to signal that she broadly supported Mr. Spitzer’s goal of awarding driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
"As president, I will not support driver's licenses for undocumented people and will press for comprehensive immigration reform that deals with all of the issues around illegal immigration including border security and fixing our broken system."
It's absurd to think that someone who prepared for this run at the presidency for at least the last seven years couldn't come up with a single answer. After all, this was her home state -- and she had supported the plan to the Nashua paper's editorial board already. It wasn't the first time she had been asked about the policy -- and yet she has simply collapsed on it over a two-week span.
These quotes will be the basis of most political advertisements against her from now until next November -- if she actually wins the nomination. Hillary has been exposed as an empty suit on par with John Edwards and Barack Obama. Bill Richardson may be the Democrats' only hope of actually capturing the White House, if they're smart enough to recognize it.
UPDATE: Did Hillary pressure Spitzer into ending his plan to take the heat off of her? I'm with Allahpundit on this one; I'm somewhat skeptical that Hillary has that much pull with Spitzer, and Hillary makes a handy enough scapegoat to allow Spitzer off the hook. John Stephenson has a roundup of links.