Timothy Egan, a former Northwest-based correspondent for the Times now a nytimes.com blogger, filled in for columnist Bob Herbert on Saturday and let his urban-branded liberalism loose in print when discussing immigration in "Disorder on the Border."
For now, the demagogues have left the stage. Talk radio has moved on - from fear of Mexicans at Home Depot to fear of a black preacher in a pulpit. Congressman Tom Tancredo is an asterisk again, satisfied that fellow Republicans are trying to out-Tancredo him.
We are left with the 12 million illegal immigrants - hanging Sheetrock, setting sod and cleaning hospital bedpans - as before, in the shadows. But in the two months since immigration briefly dominated the 2008 campaign, much has happened, much of it here.
The Times can't get enough of immigrants "in the shadows" (who somehow manage to get their pictures in the Times anyway).
Arizona may produce the next president, in John McCain, or the next vice president, in Janet Napolitano, the Democratic governor. Both of them are shaped by the pragmatic realities of the browning of the West - and lessons in how simplistic slogans rarely work as policy.
Begin with the rallying cry of those on the hard-hearted side of this issue: Build the wall. Deport them all. No amnesty.
The wall has run into a foundation of the modern Republican Party and a bedrock American principle at that: property rights. A federal judge Andrew Hanen of South Texas, an appointee of George W. Bush and a man with solid Texas values, as W. likes to say, has put a big roadblock before the fence-builders. He ruled that the government must adequately compensate property owners before running over their land in the rush to build the wall.
Too bad the Times wasn't so rock-ribbed about property rights when it came to the Supreme Court's notorious eminent domain ruling of Kelo vs. New London - a ruling which the Times alone among major editorial pages supported, perhaps to avoid the charge of hypocrisy, considering its own abuse of eminent domain.
Egan ranted on about "bumper sticker" slogans pandering to "xenophobes."
In the fall, four states in the American Southwest (Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico) will be a treasure trove of electoral votes - worth far more than Ohio, and as much in play as that big swing state. Fantasy liberal talk about porous borders being part of our diversity will not play. Nor will pandering to xenophobes.
But after November, someone from this state is likely to be brokering a deal to at last tackle the immigration problem, which means that sloganeering will remain on bumper stickers, where it belongs.