Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pouring like an avalanche

Coming down the mountain. And the GOP cannot get out of the way.

“Elections. Elections.”

That’s why Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican Party’s 2008 presidential nominee, says it is imperative that his fellow Republicans support comprehensive immigration reform this year.
As he unveiled a bipartisan blueprint for comprehensive reform this afternoon, McCain explained that the GOP had a big reason to pursue a deal this year — in addition to his view that it is the right thing to do from a policy perspective.

“The Republican Party is losing the support of our Hispanic citizens,” he said at a Capitol Hill press conference, flanked by three Democratic senators and two Republican colleagues.

Oh my, how elections have consequences. Comprehensive immigration reform has suddenly caught up with gay marriage and marijuana decriminalization as another one of conservative society's taboos crumbles.

Republicans have every right to feel overwhelmed lately. Between reality busting their bubble in November, to the Newtown/NRA/gun control developments in December, the dinosaurs must feel as if they are in tar up to their pits.

This is a lose-lose for GOP electeds who have to answer to a base that still thinks mass deportation is the solution. They can't compromise, and likewise they can't continue to go down with the ship. Texas Republicans in particular are feeling the squeeze.

In the Senate, if Cornyn and Cruz reject the framework, they will be outsiders with limited influence on shaping the final product that is likely to emerge this spring — even though they are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will consider the measure.

But if they accept the framework — and its explicit call for a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S. — they could face a backlash from within their own party.

Likewise, the Texas Republican House delegation — the largest group of GOP lawmakers in Congress — did not produce a single voice supporting the bipartisan Senate framework. If Texas Republicans are naysayers, they could limit their ability to shape the House version of immigration reform.

It was just one week ago that Cornyn sat grimacing on the dais -- along with Boehner and Cantor and Scalia and a handful of others I observed -- as Obama took the oath of office. The stories since then have been about a 'liberal renaissance'. The dawning of a progressive Enlightened Age. The truth is not so much, but that won't mollify anyone on the right.

The point is that this kind of talk does nothing to help Republicans through their lingering depression. Obama's plan for CIR -- to be announced today in Las Vegas -- is rumored to be to the left of what the senators have worked up, which in many ways is no different than what was agreed to five years ago.

But it is far worse in one significant way: the Senate immigration 'treaty' gives veto power to the likes of Jan Brewer, Rick Perry, and Greg Abbott, which would give the GOP great satisfaction... if they were only capable of understanding it.

In a concession to Republicans, the plan would bar those 11 million unauthorized immigrants from seeking permanent legal status until federal border security efforts won the approval of an appointed commission of Southwestern governors, attorneys general and community leaders.

That clause fairly well dooms the bill to failure whether it gets passed on not, IMHO. Still, this counts for progress, whatever occurs in the Congress. Republicans must either continue to stand with the freaks and hope they can hang on for one more election cycle, or do the right thing and risk being primaried from the right *cough*Cornyn*cough*.

Some Republican strategists say that the GOP must find a way to play a constructive role in the ongoing debate — or suffer the consequences at the polls for years to come.

“Comprehensive immigration reform is going to happen this year and Republicans should embrace it and work to improve it,” said Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak. “At stake is re-branding the Republican Party with Hispanics, an absolutely critical and urgent task, especially so in border states like Texas.”
Key House Republicans to watch in upcoming debates are Reps. Ted Poe of Humble, who angered some on the right by advocating comprehensive reform (without “amnesty”) and Lamar Smith of San Antonio, the former chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and a leading hawk on “amnesty.”

Then there's Steve Stockman.

“The Senate’s proposed plan does not fix our nation’s broken immigration system,” said Rep. Steve Stockman, a Republican from Friendswood. “It rewards law breaking and encourages a new flood of illegals, perpetuating the very problems it claims to solve.  Our nation’s failed experiments with amnesty have proven it only encourages more illegals willing to wait it out for their turn at free citizenship.”

Here's my blogging compadre Harold Cook with the 2x4 across the GOP's nose the next-to-last word.

“The congressional Republicans from Texas sidelined themselves with their anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric, which has no place in a fast-moving debate in which suddenly the debate has shifted to ‘how much citizenship,’” said Democratic consultant Harold Cook of Austin. “The result is a shameful outcome in which these members of Congress, representing a state with tremendous border real estate, have sidelined themselves completely. That’s not leadership, and it’s not even adequate representation. It’s just ideologues telling far-right voters what they want to hear, at the expense of mainstream Texans.”

Yes, that was a boom and a thud that you heard. As solid as that was, Harold, I have to give your neighbors in central Texas, the Butthole Surfers, the last word.

They were all in love with dyin'
They were doing it in Texas

They were all in love with dyin'
They were drinking from a fountain
That was pouring like an avalanche
Coming down the mountain

Update: Related reading...

BuzzFeed reports that before the Senate plan was announced, Chuck Schumer, Richard Durbin, and Bob Menendez, three of the Democratic senators who worked on the proposal, told LGBT advocates on a conference call that same-sex couples weren't mentioned in their plan. According to an advocate on the call, Schumer said this was done to ensure support from Republican senators. He added that they'd try to add the provision as an amendment, but couldn't guarantee it.

Senators plan to hammer out many of these contentious issues in the coming weeks, and aim to introduce legislation by the end of March. If the bill does wind up giving same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples when it comes to immigration, the Washington Post notes that it would be "almost certain to draw opposition from Catholic and Baptist groups that have been supportive of comprehensive reform."

Bringing gay rights and religious freedom into the debate sounds like a good way to make sure immigration reform never passes, but there's still reason to be optimistic. The GOP has finally shifted its stance on the immigration, and BuzzFeed reports that they're getting some coaching on how to talk about the issue in the form of a memo from a Hispanic organization connected with the party. ("Don't use the word 'illegals' or 'aliens,'" and "Don't use the term 'anchor baby.'") 
Angela Kelley, an immigration expert at the Center for American Progress, tells the Post that she sees the various proposals as "a healthy competition." The disagreements between Congress and the White House haven't seemed all that healthy recently, but things might be different this time.

Update II: "Illegal immigration foes despair over GOP moves"...

Marty Lich is ready to bolt.

It's been a couple of years since the self-described conservative considered herself a Republican, but she still often votes for GOP candidates. That's partly because of their tough stands against illegal immigration, which the retired teacher's aide blames for ruining her Southern California hometown and fears could threaten the Colorado mountain community where she now lives.

But Lich and voters like her are watching with despair as more and more Republican politicians edge toward a bipartisan plan that includes a pathway to citizenship for many of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. "If the GOP agrees on this amnesty, they're selling out their core values," Lich said. "They'd lose us. They'd lose the votes of people who support them, and they're not going to gain a lot of votes."

There's always the Constitution Party, Marty. Bust a move.

1 comment:

Elderlady said...

A 74 year old woman commits an offense against "the peace and dignity of The State of Texas"???

And, is manhandled and arrested by a 20 something State Trooper.

If this were not so pathetic, it would by hysterical.