In the Arena

Two Dreams, One Dead

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The Senate today passed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which is a good thing. It did not pass the “Dream Act,” which is a cold, cold abomination. There is a relationship between the two. Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will allow homosexuals–who have fought honorably in every one of America’s wars–to serve openly. Blocking the “Dream Act” means that young immigrants, who were brought here illegally by their parents, will not be able to gain citizenship by completing college or by serving in the military.

The repeal of “don’t ask”  will get most of the attention in the media–as it should, another step toward the perfection of our democracy. But let us focus for a moment on the “Dream Act,” a vote of staggering cynicism and ugliness on the part of most Republicans and five morally-deficient Democrats. Two of the original sponsors, John McCain and Orrin Hatch, voted against the bill…and one wonders why, especially in McCain’s case, given the fact that he recently won reelection and doesn’t have to pretend to be a troglodyte anymore. McCain has professed himself all misty and honored in the past when he attended ceremonies in which green-card holders and other non-citizens achieved citizenship through military service. But, because of the anti-immigrant mania, this flagrantly cynical and cowardly politician, would deny similar status  to young people who–through no fault of their own–were brought to this country as children, grew up as Americans and love the country enough to serve it. If the Dream Act were passed, we would have gained an estimated 65,000 valuable, patriotic and productive citizens–college graduates, military service-members–each year. We could use them. (More on Time.com: See a brief history of gays in the military)

McCain distinguished himself doubly this weekend, opposing the Dream Act and leading the opposition to “Don’t Ask,” despite the very public positions of his wife and daughter on the other side of the issue. I used to know a different John McCain, the guy who proposed comprehensive immigration reform with Ted Kennedy, the guy–a conservative, to be sure, but an honorable one–who refused to indulge in the hateful strictures of his party’s extremists. His public fall has been spectacular, a consequence of politics–he “needed” to be reelected–and personal pique. He’s a bitter man now, who can barely tolerate the fact that he lost to Barack Obama. But he lost for an obvious reason: his campaign proved him to be puerile and feckless, a politician who panicked when the heat was on during the financial collapse, a trigger-happy gambler who chose an incompetent for his vice president. He has made quite a show ever since of demonstrating his petulance and lack of grace.

What a guy.

More on Time.com:

See the 50 moments of 2010: a week by week news chronicle

See what U.S. students thought about the Dream Act

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