There is an old Yiddish saying to describe a particular kind of individual: In English, it translates to “smart, smart, smart, dumb.”
That fits Kris Kobach to a tee.
He is smart. So smart. So very smart. And yet he is so, so dumb.
The Kansas secretary of state actually believes that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says an Arizona law requiring would-be voters to come up with proof of citizenship is unconstitutional would not apply to Kansas, which has a nearly identical law.
Kobach cites a technicality which makes Kansas law different from Arizona’s, but any kid still in elementary school would tell you if the Arizona law is unlawful, then so is Kansas’ law. Stubborn Kobach will now cause the state to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars defending a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, for a lost cause.
How can a man so smart — possessing Harvard, Yale and Oxford degrees, and a professor of constitutional law — be so incredibly stupid?
The answer is threefold. Wait, make that fourfold.
One, his ego is so bloated Kobach cannot conceive that he could possibly be wrong. His pomposity gets in the way of his judgment.
Two, Kobach is so anti-immigrant (OK, illegal immigrant) he is blinded by his own prejudices.
Three, Kobach is so unbelievably ambitious that he will step on anyone and stoop to any level to raise his own profile.
And four, Kobach is a simmering pot of hostility. We’ll get back to that in a minute.
Well now, let’s see what Kobach has wrought.
In town after town, where Kobach has authored anti-immigration laws, they have often been struck down. His track record is horrible. Yet, he is so dashing and articulate — yes, a snake-oil salesman, too — municipalities have spent literally millions of dollars defending their Kobach-authored anti-immigration laws — only to lose.
He has written ugly laws for which he has received both fame and fortune. He is a regular on Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox. And he has lined his own pockets by writing vicious laws which go after landlords and employers who rent to or hire illegal immigrants, as well as authoring laws which purportedly make it legal to stop someone who “just looks suspicious;”
I have written about his double-dipping, which deserves a special place of dishonor and is worth repeating. Kobach has become wealthy doing immigration work on the side, while he should be spending his time doing the job he was elected to do — acting as a full-time Secretary of State.
But the Kobach phenomenon may have run its course.
Kobach, who once led the way toward fanatical anti-immigration actions right after 9/11, now finds himself out of step with the nation and, particularly, with his Republican Party.
His “self-deportation” stance, adopted by too many Republican leaders, probably cost the Republicans the last presidential election.
Any ethnic group would recoil en masse when they hear that the official approach to illegal immigration is to make life so miserable people will want to pack up and leave on their own. It not only is a bug-squishing way of dealing with a problem but also highly impractical, even absurd. Yet, Kobach still clings to this approach.
Kobach hides behind his ivy-league background, his status as Secretary of State, his constitutional-law credentials, his Hollywood good looks, and his mesmerizing speech, to conceal contempt for some.
Kobach’s true colors were revealed last week, when stripped of his pseudo-civility, he revealed a meaner side.
His deep hostility toward illegal immigration prompted a peaceful, though obnoxious, protest of more than 200 people at his home. That was an inappropriate place to protest, but Kobach’s reaction was telling – and terrifying.
Kobach said he would consider using “lethal force” to keep them at bay.
What? Would you repeat that? Kris Kobach, you would shoot unarmed protestors, because they are a nuisance to you and your family?
This certainly was no Benghazi, where protesters were firing weapons and burning buildings. Kobach’s over-the-top-reaction demonstrates he is, at best, thin-skinned, inflammatory and certainly not a worthy example for a leading elected public official. And worst, he is a danger to society.
He has earned the moniker “Krazy Kris Kobach” for a reason. He seems to be a bit out of the range of normalcy — even for a politician.
This is a mean-spirited, clever, transparently ambitious man who has developed a gooey-eyed group of loyalists who will jump to his defense because he caters to their worst instincts, and does so with eloquence and charm.
Kris Kobach is a man who discredits politics despite being so incredibly smart. That’s what makes him dangerous.