Here is one case where Gov. Butch Otter's ire with the federal government is completely well founded.
And a case where Otter's civil libertarian instincts are equally on target.
On Wednesday, we asked Otter what he thinks of Arizona's controversial immigration law. Here are the highlights.
"I'm not going to become a saint by outlining the sins of others, but I look on it, that was a move of desperation. And increased by frustration. ... I'm not sure how you can possibly turn that around, but I certainly understand (Gov.) Jan Brewer and the Arizona Legislature's absolute frustration. The total failure of the federal government, that's a failure of federal policy. Whatever comes of that has to be laid at the doorstep of the federal government. ...
"If they would pay as much attention to those things like immigration and border control that they should be doing, and pay less attention to all of the other things that they're mucking about in that are costing states hundreds of millions of dollars by unfunded mandates and those sort of things, I think we probably wouldn't see that sort of frustration that boiled up as much as it has in Arizona. ...
"The only way my libertarian tendencies get frizzled a little bit with that is, I don't know how you implement that law without the personal bias of people who become the enforcement tools to implement that law. ... It would take a person, I suspect, bigger than I not to immediately begin to profile."
The Arizona law will require police officers to check immigration status, if they suspect someone they have stopped, detained or arrested is an illegal alien. That, on its face, opens the door to profiling. It is simply unavoidable.
I hope Arizona's desperately misguided law doesn't become a template for the 2011 Idaho Legislature. If it does, I hope Idaho's governor (whether it's Otter or one of his challengers) would use the veto stamp to stop this kind of assault on civil liberties.
Otter also is right that the federal government has dropped the ball on immigration reform. That is a bipartisan failing years in the making — and if blame is meted out in proportion to service, Otter deserves his share based on his six years in Congress. I think Congress should have made immigration a higher priority long ago, and frankly, former Sen. Larry Craig has been the only member of Idaho's delegation to take a leadership role on this front.
Immigration is an appropriately high-profile issue in the GOP 1st Congressional District primary. Unfortunately, the hard work of immigration reform will likely wait until the next Congress. One more year, and that much more time for states to act out of desperation.
There isn't much states can do to wake the feds out of their slumber. But it helps when governors and gubernatorial candidates lay out the truth about the issue, as Otter does.
Listen to the candidates: Hear Otter and other gubernatorial candidates interview with the editorial board. And listen to candidates in other races, from U.S. Senate to Ada County assessor. Go to the Statesman voter guide and search by candidate name.