Rush Limbaugh, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, Talk Radio
Limbaugh, Snow Face Off Over Illegals
Even if some of his pro- Bush rhetoric on the white- hot illegal immigration debate seemed a bit hard to swallow, it was truly a pleasure to hear White House Press Secretary Tony Snow interviewed by Rush Limbaugh on Thursday's program.
Not only is Snow providing the Bush Administration with a much- needed boost, but as a longtime fellow host, he has greatly elevated talk radio's nationwide stature.
Despite difficult circumstances, for what he's accomplished, many of us in the radio business greatly admire him.
That said, Snow didn't enjoy any kind of a honeymoon period from longtime friend Limbaugh, who took Tony to task over Bush's ill- advised illegal alien amnesty program. From the official Rush transcript:
RUSH: But, you know, I've always fantasized about having your job for one day, and I generally have this fantasy after watching David Gregory and the "zoo" that you referred to earlier, that was really hit a peak with poor old Scott McClellan. But I don't think I would want it right now, because I would have a tough time doing your job. I know you're speaking to the press, but I don't understand the disconnect that exists between Washington and constituents. It's a bigger disconnect than I've seen in 18 years: illegal immigration, the reaction of the House leadership to the William Jefferson search, office search. Everybody in Washington seems tone deaf on immigration to what the American people want and say, and it defies logic -- and I don't know how you explain it to people.
SNOW: Well, I mean, for instance, the issue came up today, and you and I probably disagree at least in part on this, but my view is the president's right -- and I'm not just saying this; I said it while I was running a radio show -- that if you're going to deal with this problem, you gotta deal with everything at once, and here's the reason why. I think border security is something that's going to take a couple of years to get right. So already, by the way, the president is going to start moving assets first week of June. He's not going to need a special bill from Congress, and that's the good news. But the fact is it's going to take a couple of years to get every --
RUSH: You're talking about the wall?
SNOW: I'm talking about the wall; I'm talking about electronic surveillance; I'm talking about getting Border Patrol agents trained up, because at different places you're going to need different stuff. In some places you need a wall. In some places you need agents, and in some places where you've only got, you know, 200 miles of Sonoran desert and mountains, you probably need sensors and surveillance. You put in place what's necessary to make that part of the border secure. So it takes a while to do it. Now, I don't think anybody wants to sit around and wait to go after employers who are hiring people illegally and know it. You want to go after them right away, and I don't think people want to wait to figure out who the illegals are. You want to find out that is rapidly as possible, and I, frankly, don't think people want to wait to start figuring out what we do with the 11 or 12 million illegals, and that's really what the president... It's interesting. I've heard... Every conservative I talked to on Capitol Hill says, "We want to do that stuff, but we want to do it later." My answer is, "Why? Don't you want to go after employers now and don't you want to figure out who the illegals are now and don't you want to start solving this mess now?"
RUSH: But the Senate bill doesn't do any of this though!
SNOW: Well, sure it does. What the president's proposing does. I mean, you take a look, for instance, at the issue of illegals. You get these tamper-proof IDs with biometric stuff. You can't fake that. Now, once you have that in place, employers no longer can say, "Man, I don't know. That birth certificate looked okay to me, and that fake driver's license, I thought it was legitimate." Suddenly you've got something you can't fake.
RUSH: Wait, now who's going to get these cards? Is it legal employees going to get them or illegals?
SNOW: Well, see, it's going to be illegals.
RUSH: Well, how you going to find 'em?
SNOW: Easy. The employer's now under pressure.
SNOW: If they don't have it, guess what? They get hit. Furthermore, as you know, in a marketplace like ours if somebody thinks that a competitor nearby is using illegals and undercutting them in terms of price and stuff, guess what they're going to do? Their first call is going to be to the immigration authorities to say, "You know, that go is hiring illegals and I'll bet he doesn't have the documentation for them." If you don't have it all of a sudden now, unlike in the old days, if you don't have that particular kind of ID, you're in trouble -- and so it gets enforceable in two ways. The employees have to find it if they want to work, and the employers have to make sure they got it if they don't want to end up paying big fines and wind up in jail.
RUSH: Why should we believe there's going to be enforcement now when there hasn't been since '86, there hasn't been in Simpson-Mazzoli?
SNOW: Well, a couple of reasons.
RUSH: Because the enforcement appears to be voluntary on the illegals. They've got to show up to pay the fine. They've got to show and up go to the back of the line. They've got to show up and do this. Now they've got to show up and get this card, this ID card. What's the incentive for them?
SNOW: There are several reasons. First, on the ID card, again, you get the discipline from the employer side. The employer doesn't have it, and they're doing it -- and you and I have seen places, you know, in our neighborhoods and elsewhere where guys were probably illegally, they get there they work early they do all the stuff but they're illegal! Now if all of a sudden somebody shows up and says, "Show me your cards," and they don't have it, that does change behavior. The other thing is, this issue is of far more concern now than it was in 1986. From 1986 until, what, eighteen months ago, most people didn't give a rip. I mean, they really didn't. Now all of a sudden it's top of mind, which means the people who see activity that they find objectionable and illegal, they now think, "Okay, I can call the government to do this. I can call the cops on this. I can call the Border Patrol. I can call the legal enforcement." They suddenly realize that you're going to have a government that also has gotten a message because for a long time people didn't the give a rip -- and, as you know, this town, Washington, response when people say, "Hey, you gotta do something," and I think the message has been received pretty loud and clear. We need to do something.
RUSH: Well, I've been aware of it for longer than a year and half, I haven't been able to go to California for the last five years and not have a conversation about this among people who are livid.
RUSH: Prop 187 certainly older than a year and a half.
SNOW: Well, that's right. That goes back to Pete Wilson years, but I'm telling you: rising to the level of national concern. It's been hot in California for a long time; it's been heating up in Arizona, but now it's an issue. It's an issue in Iowa; it's an issue in Utah; it's an issue in Ohio; it's an issue in Maine. It's now an issue that has reached all around the country and people are concerned about it. So before, you just didn't have enough momentum to get everybody in Washington sort of focused on it. I mean, look, it has taken this long. Do you think that the House speaker was giving speeches on this three years ago? I don't think so. I'd have to go back and look at the record, but the point is issues like this take a certain amount of time to get to a boil.
RUSH: Well, they do. The history of this is it takes 20 years. Every 20 years it metastasizes. It gets to the point where people notice it, and it becomes a burden in their lives that they can't explain. They don't understand why "illegal" doesn't mean anything. They don't understand why they [people for enforcing the border] are called "nativists." I mean, Tony, just politically here, I'm talking about what's coming out of the Senate now.
While it's true illegal immigration is on the national front- burner these days, how can Snow say that few outside of California cared about it until recently?
Across the nation, it's been a hot talk radio topic for over a decade. As a former host, he should be well aware of that.
Overall, however, listening to these two talk titans clash was very entertaining. For Rush, it will go down as one of his most memorable shows in some time.
For more on the Limbaugh/ Snow clash, visit Michelle Malkin, Expose The Left, California Conservative and Dad29. Here, MSM liberals attack Snow.
Also: At LGF, hate mail from Reuters!
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Snow-Limbaugh image: RushLimbaugh.com