Phil Scott and Bruce Lisman have spent this week trying to define their positions on admitting Syrian refugees. The issue is a sure-fire hit in Republican constituencies across the country, but here in Vermont the blowback seems to outweigh the benefit.
The topline for both men is pretty much identical — a “pause” in the refugee program until we can be reassured about security safeguards. But the devil, don’tcha know, is in the details. And if you take them both at face value, they want to put the program on the shelf for a long time.
Scott makes happy noises about “a nation of immigrants” and our values and the Statue of Liberty. But look closely at his terms and conditions he presented in his essay on the subject:
…my goal is to ensure the federal program moves forward with security protocols Vermonters, and all Americans, can have confidence in.
And there’s the deal-breaker. If Scott means what he wrote, he wants the refugee program shelved until every American is satisfied. That will never happen. How can you possibly convince people who think Obama is a Kenyan and see Islam as a religion of hate?
Lisman’s position is essentially the same, but his rhetoric is angrier and his conditions are more overtly unreachable.
… while Governor Shumlin may have confidence in the Obama Administration to protect us from ISIS and prevent their infiltration into the U.S., I and many Vermonters do not. ISIS is a cancer on the world that has exponentially grown under President Obama’s watch and the Governor should be wary of uncritically accepting the President’s assurances on anything to do with ISIS.
And there’s the deal-breaker. Lisman doesn’t trust Obama or Shumlin. How the hell can they possibly convince him that US security protocols are sufficient?
They can’t. Taken at face value, Lisman wants a hold on the refugee program at least until Obama and Shumlin leave office. And if our next President is Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, Lisman won’t trust them either.
Terms and conditions, folks. And I’m not misquoting either one of these guys; the quotes come from essays they wrote and approved for publication.
Lisman’s language is harsher; the dog whistles are louder. Scott puts a happy face on his rhetoric. But both men have set unattainable benchmarks for allowing more Syrian refugees into America.
Would either of them care to take another whack at redefining their positions?