Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) issued a statement on Monday blasting Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for comparing President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty to the internment of Japanese-Americans by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during World War II. The Bay Area “Political Blotter” scored Honda’s response a win for the 17th district congressman: “Rep. Mike Honda schools Sen. Rand Paul,” it said.
However, Honda’s response, praising Obama’s “commitment to immigration reform and American values,” actually missed the mark.
Honda was one of those interned during the war, and speaks from a position of unassailable authority about that experience. He makes a good case that Sen. Paul ought not to have invoked that example of suffering. After all, Roosevelt’s decision caused immediate and direct harm to 120,000 people. The damage done by President Obama’s executive order is more indirect and abstract–even given that abuse of power tends to reinforce itself.
Yet Honda’s praise of President Obama’s action does not pass the laugh test. Obama himself insisted for years that as president, he would not and could not make the kind of unilateral decision he announced last Thursday. He even said that doing so would violate the U.S. Constitution and make him “Emperor of the United States.”
Obama’s action was hardly evidence of his “commitment to immigration reform and American values.” Indeed, he shares blame with Congress for failing to address the “broken” immigration system–and some of his own actions have arguably made that system worse.
Rand Paul’s statement was at least intellectually defensible; Honda’s statement comes closer to exploiting the suffering of Japanese-Americans for political purposes.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak