Thursday, September 21, 2006

Republicans push for eleventh hour immigration legislation

If there was ever any doubt in your mind that desperate Republicans facing election defeat weren't going to go out fighting, this week's reemergence of "immigration issues" on the legislative calendar should put that thought to rest. Having spent a good part of the summer unsuccessfully trying to rile up the electorate into believing that immigration was the most important issue facing the nation, both House and Senate Republicans decided to once again force the issue to the front burner this week hoping to gain traction going into what is shaping up to be a dismal November for them.

Facing sagging poll numbers and an angry electorate, Republican prospects look bad. Having spend six years rubberstamping every proposal coming from the Whitehouse, the President's failures and unpopularity now hang around their necks like a an albatross. It would be impossible for most of them to distance themselves from a President they fear to even be seen with on the campaign trail. So what are they left to do?

The answer is simple … distract, distract, distract.

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Their mission is simple. Shift the debate away from their records, the war in Iraq, corruption scandals, oil prices, a stagnating economy, record deficits, job loss, and a failed "war on terrorism." Their plan is to make this a single issue campaign. Make it all about immigration, the only issue they have had any success in misrepresenting to the American people.

They've spent an entire year preparing for just this contingency. Hammering away with talking points and skewed statistics they have tried to convince the average American that the borders are "broken", immigrants are stealing jobs, abusing social services and putting a huge burden on average American tax payers.

They've also continually obfuscated the line between terrorism and immigration in order to try to link a genuine fear and concern with an unfounded one.

In many ways they have been successful, but it has come with a price. Having convinced a segment of the population that immigration is a matter of life and death, they now want to see something done about it.

This week House and Senate Republicans are preparing to do just that … come up with a few mostly symbolic pieces of legislation to go home and campaign on. It doesn't really matter that like most legislation coming from this Congress, from the war in Iraq to tax cuts for the rich, they haven't really figured out how to pay for their proposals. The public has already proven that they rarely ask the tough questions like "how do you plan on paying for this?" when dealing with this Congress.

So far from the House we've gotten a 700 mile long wall, a bill requiring proof of citizenship for voting, a proposal to make digging tunnels under the 700 mile long wall illegal, indefinite detention of aliens suspected of being terrorists, a request for universal guidelines for handling alien smugglers, and a proposal to "reaffirm" local law enforcements authority to enforce Federal immigration laws.

The Senate thus far has agreed to debate the wall building bill.

As for the President … he's said he would sign the wall building legislation if it gets to his desk.

So what does this all amount to? … A big pile of nothing. The money for the wall will not be appropriated before the break to go home and campaign, and the rest of the House legislation won't be ready in time to go to the Senate, and would never pass through anyway. If the Republicans were truly concerned about immigration reform they would have done the hard work and hammered out a compromise between the two houses on the comprehensive plan. Instead they'll pass a passel of meaningless legislation to be finished in the lame duck session after the election...when they'll no longer need the issue if they win, and could care less if they lose. But the whole endeavor will make for good bumper stickers and 30 second sound bites about being tough on border security... and that's all that really matters.

It's all just smoke and mirrors. A cheap parlor trick to perform back home to prove that they are not a bunch of ineffectual Bush puppets.

But for Democrats this move creates a danger. The Republicans have proven time and time again that they can be quite effective at turning a non-issue into an important election weapon. They did it with the gay marriage, the phony terror alerts, and "family values."

If they can convince the American people that they have in fact done something to "secure the border" and make them safe not only from "invading Mexicans" but from the "terrorists" that have been hanging in out south of the border just waiting for drug smuggling coyotes to bring them across the desert to attack a mall near you, they might be able to just pull this one out of their behinds. It’s a big "if" … but it wouldn't be the first time Republicans have forced the Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Democrats must start to frame this election before the Republicans do it for them. This has been a do-nothing, rubberstamp, corrupt, spendthrift Congress for the past six years while under Republican control, and that needs to be hammered home consistently. This election is not about immigration, it's about allowing Bush to go unchecked for two more years. Democrats must remember that and not allow this issue to get in the way


Pondering American said...

I shall disagree with a tad with this post.

First as to the fence. In a sense that is not a bad thing inteself as long as it is done right. Security on the border is much needed. By the way I am hearing rumblings to do something on the Northern border.

I of course would have prefered if this was all done in one big Comprehensive bill. However a little bit more border security is a wise move. If the unthinkable happened and it was because of an illegal crossing at the Southern border then the backlash to people that are supporting a sane immigration and trade policy would be drastic.

As for your prediction, I will say this. I think despite the predictions on all side this election appears to be more and more heading toward an status quo election. I think we shall see a few Dem pickups in the House but nothing substantial. I am predicting at the most just 2 Senate seats being losted in the Senate by Republicans as a worse case scenario. I am beginning to think that could be wash also.

The big election will be 08. There the irrational Bush bashing will have stopped because like many second term Presidents he will have faded in the background.

The Republicans will have a bunch of new 08 canidiates too that are surprising more moderate than in the past. Even a very big social conservative like Mike Huckabee appears to have sane thoughts on immigration and is not the typical far right conservative. A lot will have to do with whom the Dems pick as their nominee. IF it is not Clinton there is hope that there can be a fresh new discussion of ideas in this country without being hindered by emotional connections such as the Clintons or Bushes.

That being said on the immigration issue the Graf 08 race is a biggie. If Graf can win that district it shows me that people have concerns that more actively have to be addressed by the people who want some sane immigration reform. The immigration reform movement missed some big opportunities this year to expand their base of support by targeting Evangelicals for instance. That was a tragic mistake and that mainly conservative/Republican leaning group must be gone after more aggressively next time.

Duke1676 said...


you know I would have to disagree with you assessment of the upcoming election.

Now I will admit that seven weeks is a lifetime in politics, but that said, baring an October surprise of epic proportions this really is shaping up to be the Democrats race to lose. That is not to say that they couldn't drop the ball's happened before. But it really does look dismal for the Republicans

But it is no surprise that the party out of power for the last six years should have a winning's historically been the norm. It is only question of how large a victory they will have. My thinking is that the American people want a return to two-party rule and will vote accordingly as they have always done in the past.

As to 08 ... that's a whole ‘nother ball o wax. It's way to early in my opinion to even start to look at what will happen in any meaningful way. But I will:

Hilary?... probably not.. little or no support from the liberal wing, can raise money but like no one else but will have a hard time in the primaries.

Giuliani... as a native New Yorker I'll tell you this guys got more skeletons in the closet than a Halloween store in July... he'll never make it through the primaries.

McCain.. I think the last few years have taken some of the "maverick" shine off John in the eyes of independents.. he might not be as strong as he appears to be. But he certainly is the front runner right now

Allen ... that boys a mess right now.. let's see if he even holds on to his Senate seat.

Pataki .. again as a New Yorker I have to say…. Pataki? Who? He’s a laughing stock here even amongst hard core Republicans, they don’t even think he’s got a snowballs chance in hell.

Edwards ... same story as before.. great message and campaign skills. But no real experience. But I wouldn’t rule him out

Clark ... Maybe ... but again … experience? If Iraq continues the way it’s going and Iran comes into play … the American people might go for a General…

Biden... All hat and no cattle. Also problems with the liberal wing. I think not.

I guess my point here is it’s all very much up in the air right now… but it cerainly will be interesting.