Whenever election season draws near, the shenanigans in which politicians will engage to score cheap points are seemingly boundless.
Recently, Gov. Mitt Romney said 27 untruths in 38 minutes of talking time in a debate with President Barack Obama and all but promised to put PBS' lovable fluffy puppets on the chopping block should he occupy the White House.
Whatever you think of Romney's tactic, the move worked, and Romney inched up in the polls, even moving past the president in some polls.
Obama isn't exactly guiltless. If you think that the proximity to the presidential election and the need to energize the progressive base didn't figure into the calculus of Obama's embrace of same-sex marriage or the decision to stop deporting some unauthorized young people, we've got some beachfront property on Sesame Street we'd like to sell you.
Last year's personhood and voter ID amendments, though constitutionally questionable (the courts are still grappling with both), coincided with statewide elections and probably helped turn out social conservative voters. It also likely contributed to Republicans taking back control of the Mississippi from Democrats who ruled the House for more than 100 years.
But in Mississippi, where Gov. Romney leads Obama by 18 percentage points and statewide officers aren't due up for re-election for another three years, we're having a hard time wrapping our noggins around why Gov. Phil Bryant is wading into a politically charged lawsuit over immigration.
Last week, the governor's office announced that Mississippi would become the first state to join a federal lawsuit filed by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In June, Obama issued an executive order halting deportations of immigrants who immigrated to the U.S. before age 16 but who are younger than 30, have committed no major crimes, have been in the U.S. for five years, posses a high school diploma or served in the military.
Bryant justified the move by saying he could not "turn a blind eye to the problem of illegal immigration and its costs to Mississippi" and assuring taxpayers that Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who helped draft Arizona's immigration enforcement law, would represent the state at no cost.
In the governor's warped logic, getting rid of immigrants will free up jobs and save taxpayers $25 million per year. We question the veracity of Bryant's math. When the well-respected nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center tried to count Mississippi's unauthorized immigrants, it found very few.
Legally speaking, it's hard to see how Mississippi has any standing in a fight between bureaucrats and their bosses and even harder to how dragging the citizens of Mississippi will improve any of the myriad challenges we face as a state. Gov. Bryant should focus on the job in front of him in Mississippi; we have many tough problems, but illegal immigration isn't one of them.