What can you say about Mitt Romney's continued use of a contractor that employs illegal aliens to do landscaping work, other than, you know, if you're going to run as an immigration hard-liner, you probably shouldn't hire a contractor that employs illegal aliens, particularly if you've already been busted for it once.

The irony is that I actually believe Romney's semi-explanation. Here's his statement from the latest Boston Globe report:

"After this same issue arose last year, I gave the company a second chance with very specific conditions," Romney said in the statement. "They were instructed to make sure people working for the company were of legal status. We personally met with the company in order to inform them about the importance of this matter. The owner of the company guaranteed us, in very certain terms, that the company would be in total compliance with the law going forward.

Knowing what we know about Romney--how careful and risk-averse he is--this completely rings true to me. I'm just confused about why he didn't go the additional step of verifying that this was happening.

The Globe had a terrific profile last year in which Romney and the writer watch the footage where his father says he was "brainwashed" on Vietnam, the gaffe that effectively ended his presidential hopes. The thesis of the piece is that Romney's hyper-cautiousness is a reaction to that incident. How tragic (in the Greek sense) it would be if, after constructing his political identity so as to avoid the deadly faux pas, Romney is brought down by it.

--Noam Scheiber