Lamar Smith: A Political Double Standard

By Victor Landa

Finally and at long last a breath of fresh, compromise-seeking air from congress. In the midst of what most Americans would call the most divisive congress of a lifetime there comes a rarity:  a congressman who dares extol the virtues of meeting the opponent half-way, of seeking a compromise for a the best possible solution.

To quote this bridge-builder in the field of partisanship, as reported in (of all places) Sciencemag.org:

“Passing legislation requires patience and persistence. While some people compare the legislative process to making sausage, I’d rather compare it to a loaf of bread. Sometimes half a loaf is better than none, and even a slice beats going hungry, and sometimes you have to settle for just a few crumbs.”

I’ll give you a few moments to digest the improbability of a sentence like that existing in a political atmosphere like the one the reigns in Washington.  And I’ll give you a few seconds more to find a chair if you’re not already sitting. That quote comes from Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).

No, seriously.

It’s reported that he said those words last week at the annual Forum on Science and Technology Policy where he explained to all those present how he managed to get congress to pass an update to the U.S. patent laws. According to the same report,

Those legislative skills earned him and patent reform co-sponsor Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) the title of 2011 technology policymakers of the year from Politico.

This is the same guy who backed-off of the Stop Online Piracy Act after an overwhelming outcry from internet users from across the nation. He heard the loud voices and acted reasonably.

This is the same man who remains adamant on the issue of immigration?

Smith is the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and has used his position to

stymie proposals from Republicans as well as Democrats that would allow more foreign-born students with U.S. graduate degrees in science and engineering, as well as foreign high-tech entrepreneurs who create jobs for U.S. citizens, to receive so-called green cards that would allow them to stay indefinitely.

He is immovable in his immigration stance, far from his own “half a loaf is better than none, and even a slice beats going hungry” ideology.  One has to ask, what gives? Why isn’t a compromise good for immigration?

[Photo by ryanjreilly]

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