Okay, quick: What cable or network news show hasn't Jeb Bush been on in the past 48 hours? And more importantly, does he want undocumented immigrants to be given a pathway to citizenship, or simply "permanent legal residency"?
That's become an important question as we reach day two of a major media offensive that has the former Florida governor showing up on television and in print pieces (like today's USA Today cover story). Bush co-wrote a new book called Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution, which has surprised people because he and his co-author, Clint Bolick, pull back from arguing that the estimated 11 million undocumented people in this country should not get a pathway to citizenship. In fact, he argues that such immigrants should be granted "permanent legal residency" after pleading guilty to breaking the law and paying "applicable fines or perform community service." But they should not have access to citizenship.
Yet this morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Bush said he could support a path to citizenship now that Republican lawmakers like Marco Rubio and John McCain have joined with Democrats on a proposal that would do exactly that:
In Immigration Wars, however, Bush and Bolick wrote the following (courtesy of Think Progress):
It is absolutely vital to the integrity of our immigration system that actions have consequences— in this case, that those who violated the laws can remain but cannot obtain the cherished fruits of citizenship. To do otherwise would signal once again that people who circumvent the system can still obtain the full benefits of American citizenship. It must be a basic prerequisite for citizenship to respect the rule of law. But those who entered illegally, despite compelling reasons to do so in many instances, did so knowing that they were violating the law of the land. A grant of citizenship is an undeserving reward for conduct that we cannot afford to encourage. [...]
Our proposal imposes two penalties for illegally entry: fines and/or community service, and ineligibility for citizenship. Yet it allows for illegal immigrants who have proven themselves to be otherwise law-abiding members of the community to remain in our country.
On Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski began the questioning by quoting an anonymous Mitt Romney adviser who blasted Bush to the Miami Herald's Marc Caputo after hearing the former governor's change of heart.
The unnamed adviser said, "Where the hell was this Jeb Bush during the campaign? He spent all this time criticizing Romney and it turns out he has basically the same position."
Looking a bit miffed, Bush responded,"We have to talk about unnamed advisers? That's part of the rule here?"
Co-host Joe Scarborough then asked Bush to talk about the book, and the initial question was not revisited during the rest of the interview.