Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013 | 2:02 a.m.
It looks like the word “amnesty” has been officially deleted.
After listening to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., talk with Rush Limbaugh on Tuesday, it appears that the immigration issue in America may be getting beyond whether a second border fence should be 10 feet tall or 20 feet tall.
Apparently, the “conservative principles” that Rubio kept talking about with Limbaugh now include the much-belated recognition that America must acknowledge the presence of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants who have been living in this country. And more importantly, America must work out some pathway for them to citizenship.
Yes, the “A” word is being deported.
Rubio now simply refers to this as “the way forward.”
Come to think of it, wasn’t “Forward” Obama’s campaign slogan?
This kind of progressive thinking was, well, unthinkable and certainly not spoken aloud by self-avowed conservatives just a few months ago.
Rubio called a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants a bad idea when he was running for his Senate seat less than three years ago.
“Earned path to citizenship is code for amnesty,” Rubio had said then, criticizing then-Gov. Charlie Crist for supporting a broad immigration reform package that had been proposed by Sen. John McCain three years earlier.
But now that pathway is being auditioned as the baggage of a real conservative.
Or as Rubio told Limbaugh: “Conservatism’s always been about common sense.”
Limbaugh did his best to adapt to these new shifting sands of conservatism.
“What you are doing is admirable and noteworthy,” Limbaugh said. “You are recognizing reality. You’re trumpeting it. You’re shouting it.”
And the reality is that progressive, forward thinking is breaking out all over.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has gone from fantasies of collecting urine from public workers to advocating for higher pay for public school teachers. The Boy Scouts of America is considering ending its ban on gay members and leaders. The military high command thinks it’s time to open combat roles to women.
The practice of disputing global warming to prop up the economic interests of big polluters is fading fast. Even climate change skeptic Richard Muller, whose research has been funded by the coal-billionaire Charles Koch, admitted that his scientific conclusions have been all wrong.
“Global warming is real and humans are almost entirely the cause,” Muller said.
And in other news of bad mistakes finally realized, Fox News canned Sarah Palin, choosing not to renew her $1 million-a-year contract, which over the past three years had worked out to be $15.85 per word, according to a University of Minnesota report. Her use of the word “amen” alone cost Fox $1,760.
In a concurrent event, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told the Republican National Committee last week that Republicans need to stop being “the stupid party.”
All this progressive thinking has made it harder and harder for Republicans to demagogue gays, feminists, environmentalists and illegal immigrants.
And so even the recalcitrant Limbaugh was cowed into acquiescence by Rubio, who is looking more and more like “the way forward” for a party that needs to shake backward thinking on multiple fronts.
Rubio explained to Limbaugh that it was important not to be on the sidelines as the president and congressional Democrats tackled immigration reform.
“And we recognize that our legal immigration system needs to be reformed,” Rubio told Limbaugh. “We do have an existing problem that needs to be dealt with in the best way possible.”
So griping about “amnesty” has been replaced by finding “a reasonable path” to citizenship for those who are here illegally. Not too lenient. But possible.
“I know why people are uncomfortable about it,” Rubio told Limbaugh. “It doesn’t feel right, in some instances, to allow people who have come here undocumented to be able to stay. I know some people are uncomfortable with that notion. This is a tough issue to work through. But I would just say this to you: If this country goes downhill, there’s nowhere else in the world. I mean there’s nothing else — there’s no replacement for it.”
So finding a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants isn’t only good for them, but it’s good for America. Making these undocumented immigrants American citizens will help keep the country from going downhill.
That’s some progressive thinking.
Or as Palin would say, if she still had the job, “Amen.”
Frank Cerabino writes for the Palm Beach Post in Florida.