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Dobbs: NY governor needs a learner's permit

  • Story Highlights
  • Eliot Spitzer has abandoned principle and truth to pander for political advantage
  • Driver's license plan could bring voter and ID fraud, threaten national security
  • Poll shows that almost three-fourths of New Yorkers oppose the plan
  • Next Article in U.S. »
By Lou Dobbs
CNN
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Lou Dobbs' commentary appears weekly on CNN.com.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer is mired in a mess of his own making. The governor's political fortunes are now in jeopardy because of his brash and impulsive style. Unfortunately, he is also jeopardizing the safety of New Yorkers and debasing their citizenship rights as he flails against the facts, the law and the will of the people.

Dobbs

Lou Dobbs strongly opposes a plan from New York's governor to let illegal immigrants get driver's licenses.

Governor Spitzer, or Prince Eliot as he seems to think of himself, chose more than a month ago to pay off his campaign promises to socio-ethnocentric activist groups and declared that illegal immigrants should be given New York driver's licenses. The Good Prince Eliot didn't bother to discuss his intentions with the leadership of the state Democratic Party or the Democratic leaders in the state legislature, and he didn't hold a single public hearing.

New York's neophyte governor simply declared that illegal immigrants "no longer need to hide and pretend they are not here." Mr. Spitzer needs a stamp on his governor's ID card that reads "learner's permit." Spitzer seems to be pretending that his responsibility to American citizens doesn't exist.

From the outset, I opposed the governor's plan and was straightforward in my criticism. Spitzer's response was to declare critics of his plan as "anti-immigrant." Upon hearing the governor's pathetic confusion of immigrant and illegal immigrant, we all knew the governor had abandoned principle and truth to pander for political advantage.

Within days, a public opinion poll showed that almost three-fourths of New Yorkers opposed the governor's plan, and a long list of distinguished elected officials and public figures joined in that opposition. Prince Eliot, however, insisted he would press ahead, irrespective of the will of the people or the counsel of wiser minds in both political parties.

Over the past weekend, Spitzer met with his good friend, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, and conjured up an attempt to create a smokescreen for his retreat from his original proposal, declaring he now wants a three-tiered license system, one that would open the door to massive voter and identification fraud, not to mention the national security concerns.

One of these licenses would comply with the Real ID Act, the Department of Homeland Security's effort to improve the reliability of identification documents issued by states, and another would be for those who want to enter Canada without using a passport. The third license would be for illegal immigrants, and it would not be valid as identification to board airplanes or enter federal buildings.

Spitzer calls his opponents anti-immigrant, yet he had the temerity to criticize me, saying: "I'm not going to demean myself by getting into a back-and-forth with somebody who on TV spews venom, hate and fundamental misinformation. ... It's beneath me, it's beneath my office to in any way involve myself with Lou Dobbs, and I think his knowing spread of venom is beneath CNN as well."

It's obviously not beneath him or his office to spew up race in this contest of ideas and principles. Race is always the last refuge of pandering political figures who have exhausted their arguments and abandoned reason and fact. This is about the security, safety and citizenship of all Americans. Please, governor, serve the people of New York for a change.

This is a bureaucratic and security nightmare, and while the governor promises the program will run smoothly, Juan Carlos Polanco, GOP elections commissioner in the Bronx, says there are plenty of worries over the National Voter Registration Act. Polanco argues that the threat to our democracy lies in the fact that nobody at the Department of Motor Vehicles or the Board of Elections is cross-checking to make sure that drivers are eligible to vote in the first place.

Lee Daghlian, the public information officer on the State Board of Elections, agrees that this opens the door to rampant fraud. Daghlian says it's up to registrants to check the correct box, and only if they're caught providing false information could they be convicted of perjury and fined. So let me get this straight: We're essentially taking the word of people who have already lied to sneak into this country.

How dare the governor and these groups representing the interests of illegal immigrants demand equal rights to U.S. citizens. I cannot believe we've reached a point in this country that propaganda and nonsense have led to a powerful political impulse to give the same rights to illegal immigrants and American citizens.

It's become clear that Spitzer is treating both the truth and the citizens of the state of New York with absolute disdain. But New Yorkers are making their voices heard as well on this issue, and it's gratifying to see people taking back their government as best they can. They're talking to their state senators and state assemblymen and women, and they're letting this governor know that their prerogatives, their rights as citizens are not something that one arrogant governor is going to give away without a serious fight and lasting consequences.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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