This afternoon I sat in on the McCain blogger conference call at the kind invitation of Patrick Hynes. John Hinderaker was also on the call, along with Ann Althouse, Ed Morrissey, James Joyner, NRO’s Stephen Spruiell (and here), and the New York Sun’s Ryan Sager, among others (links are to comments on the call).
Senator McCain sounded good-humored, feisty, friendly, and engaged. The questions were knowlegeable and friendly in tone. At the end of the call Senator McCain offered to make the call a weekly event if we wanted. He called John “Johnny” when John asked about the provision providing immediate probationary status to illegal aliens. Johnny, we hardly knew ye. I thought that Senator McCain got off a good zinger at Governor Romney’s expense. But I was most struck by a fundamental anomaly.
Almost all the questions addressed the immigration bill. Senator McCain defended the fast track that the immigration legislation is on (or was when we spoke). When asked by Jennifer Rubin why hearings were not desirable, he said something to the effect that the proposed legislation addressed issues the Senators all know and that are easy to comprehend. (That’s what my notes say, but I post this summary subject to correction. Please let me know if there is a transcript or audio out there somewhere.)
The House of Representatives will take its time, according to Senator McCain, but the Senate could deal with the bill in five days: “The proposal is not that complicated.” (Again, that’s what my notes say.)
Ed Morrissey asked Senator McCain about the removal of any provision addressing the liability for back taxes of illegal aliens who apply for regularization. Michael Kranish reported the removal of the provision from the bill at the request of the White House on Saturday. Mickey Kaus highlighted it on Sunday. Senator McCain expressed surprise. “I would resist that,” he said. “It would throw more fuel on the fire.”
If you are inclined to think that this bill is being pushed unreasonably to avoid the kind of scrutiny it warrants, that struck me as a QED moment.
UPDATE: The transcript of the conference call with Senator McCain supported my notes. I discuss the transcript here.
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