Immigration is a minefield.
Jeb Bush stepped in it.
Bush's new book, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution, exploded on the political scene last week and left the former Florida governor uncharacteristically wobbly over how to legalize the status of the undocumented.
The controversy -- and perhaps the book itself -- summed up the politics of immigration: laden with political peril, nuance, seeming contradiction and complexity.
The book is also a point of departure for Bush's political aspirations. He's neither ruling out nor in a White House bid in 2016.
That invites more political scrutiny than Bush says he realized.
"If I made a mistake, I didn't assume that everything would be viewed through a political lens," Bush told The Miami Herald. "In Washington, it seems, everybody assumes there's a political motivation to everything. And not understanding that, I accept responsibility for it."
"Is it a big deal? No," he said. "When you're governor, you have to deal with real big deals. This is not one of those."
But this is a big deal.
On Sunday, Bush is scheduled to appear on every major news program. He began the week on the Today Show, then traveled from New York to California, stopping at the Reagan National Library on Friday.
Authors of most books -- especially policy topics like immigration -- usually don't get that sort of wall-to-wall media exposure. If Bush's coauthor, lawyer Clint Bolick, wrote this alone, it probably wouldn't make the news.
But other authors aren't scions of a political dynasty, former governors, the son and brother of former presidents, possible presidential candidates or fathers of possible future presidential candidates.
Bush said they wrote Immigration Wars last year to spur action.
By the time it was printed, however, the debate was well under way in Washington. There, Bush protege and neighbor, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, of West Miami, plays a leading role among a bipartisan group of eight senators hammering out an immigration bill.
Still, Immigration Wars is a must-read for anyone who wants to know more about the mind of one of the GOP's top idea men. Its roughly 250 pages move at a surprisingly quick pace.
It's also full of quirky stats: half of all apples are now grown in China; more Americans can name all Three Stooges than a single Supreme Court justice. Eye-opening figures: only 13 percent of the roughly 1 million legal immigrants in 2011 were admitted for work purposes. History: Ben Franklin penned an anti-immigrant pamphlet aimed at Germans who threatened to make the U.S. "a colony of Aliens."
Like the immigration issue itself, the book will leave few people at either extreme -- the "demagogues" -- happy.
Bush tacks right in calling for a residency-path -- instead of a citizen-path bashed as more "amnesty" by conservatives. Yet he moves left in criticizing those obsessed with border security.
The book takes shots at "nativists" in the Republican Party and Republican Mitt Romney's tone-deaf campaign when it came to Hispanic outreach and immigration. The authors spare few opportunities to blast President Obama and unions. They refrain from criticism of either Bush presidency and praise Bush's education reforms.
Though it has a chapter on immigration history and rightly blames both sides for the failure of comprehensive immigration reform, it gives short shrift to the fact that it was Republicans and conservatives who were more responsible for killing reform during the presidency of Bush's brother due to concerns about too much "amnesty" and too little border security.
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