Sen. Barack Obama recently chided his running mate, Joe Biden, for engaging in “rhetorical flourishes” after the Delaware Democrat predicted that hostile foreign elements would test the mettle of a President Obama in the first six months of his term. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, should receive a similar upbraiding for the ill-considered remarks she made to the Associated Press on the future of comprehensive immigration reform:

Pelosi . . . said Congress would have to tackle the politically sticky job of overhauling immigration laws in the new Congress, after a bipartisan measure collapsed last year. The estimated 12 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally ‘are part of the U.S. economy. We cannot send them all home, and we cannot send them all to jail, so we have to address it,’ Pelosi said. Any solution would have to be bipartisan, she said, so it may require sacrificing some of Democrats’ past priorities, such as giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. ‘Maybe there never is a path to citizenship if you came here illegally,’ Pelosi said. ‘I would hope that there could be, but maybe there isn’t.’

Obama supporters and media pundits have been scratching their head and wondering aloud, “What could Joe Biden have been thinking?” Supporters of comprehensive immigration reform ask the same question about Pelosi’s unilateral elimination of an important human aspiration (even before an election outcome she hopes will be a Democratic mandate for reform).

Why did Speaker Pelosi, before votes are even counted, throw the undocumented under the bus of a supposed Republican blowback against a path to legal status? What if the Republican minority in the house sinks to inconseqential proportions and a filibuster-proof Democratically-controlled Senate is elected?

The first rule of negotiation is never to bid against yourself. Why in this pre-election phase, should she preemptively dash the hopes of the undocumented to be granted equality of civil rights (notwithstanding their violations of noncriminal immigration law provisions, but only after their debt to society is repaid through payment of fines and back taxes)? Has she forgotten the discrimination visited upon her Italian ancestors when they were a despised underclass in an earlier xenophobic era? America must not tarnish our heritage as a nation of immigrants by enacting laws creating a permanent lower-caste population of off-the-path human beings.

Will the Champion of Change rebuke Speaker Pelosi’s Audacity of No-Hope?