Bill Richardson, Immigration Centrist? Not Exactly

Adam Nagourney claims that Bill Richardson sounds like a Republican because he doesn't use the word amnesty to describe his plan for letting illegals become citizens.

Chief political reporter Adam Nagourney nabbed Thursday's front page with a profile of New Mexico governor and Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson and his opposition to the immigration bill - "Hispanic Presidential Hopeful Confronts Immigration Debate."

Nagourney tried to center Richardson on the issue, even thoughhis own article notedthe governor is the first prominent Democrat to reject the bill (from the left), "saying the measure placed too great a burden on immigrants - tearing apart families that wanted to settle in the United States, creating a permanent tier of second-class immigrant workers and financing a border fence that Mr. Richardson had long opposed."

But the only hint of Richardson's centrism on the issue is cosmetic.

"Mr. Richardson said he supported some sort of immigration bill that would permit people who entered the United States illegally to become citizens, and particularly opposed anything that would divide families, echoing a main criticism by opponents of the current bill. But he sounded like one of his Republican counterparts when asked if he would use the word 'amnesty' to describe what should be granted people who had entered the country illegally.

"'I don't use that word - no, no, no,' he said. 'I want a legalization program that does not provide amnesty.'"

That's it. Shunning the word "amnesty," just like most liberals do (as does the Times), makes Richardson a centrist on immigration? Nagourney apparently didn't push Richardson for an explanation of why what he favors isn't amnesty.

Then the Times again suggested that CNN host Lou Dobbs is the only television anchor to ever make his opinion on something clear: "Still, Mr. Richardson said he realized that might be difficult in this political environment in which the immigration debate was stirring so many passions across the country. He said he had to speak out against what he suggested was an anti-immigrant fervor, be it from television news hosts like Lou Dobbs or Republican candidates for president."

The Times has often singled out Dobbs' illegal-immigration opposition (without also mentioning his liberal-friendly positions on outsourcing or free trade). And does anyone recall the Times holding up, say, Dan Rather as a bastion of "anti-conservative fervor"?