From the “As If They Didn’t Have Enough Problems Already” Department, the Republican Party just spilled toxic waste all over its nice, clean shirt by inexplicably pushing an immigration bill guaranteed to send most of their conservative base screaming for the exits. Thankfully, the bill went down to ignominious defeat due to the arrogance of its backers and the anger generated against it by the measure’s opponents. But one wonders if many on the right will find their way back in time to save the party from disaster in 2008.
One would think that the purpose of a political party is to grow larger so that when election time comes, they would get more votes than the other fellow. Not so the GOP. In what has to be considered a revolutionary approach to party building, the Republicans believe in first shrinking the party so that only little old ladies who think that Wendell Wilke is nifty and young hip-hoppers who took a wrong turn on their way to the MTV Video Awards show up at the next caucus.
Republican leaders should consider themselves lucky that they have the Wilke bloc wrapped up for 2008. Whether they can persuade the 50 Cent Fan Club to vote for the GOP is another question. And perhaps, if they try very hard, they may be able to snag a couple refugees from the last episodes of Survivor: Fiji, possibly the only souls in the nation who are unaware of how bollixed up the Republican Party has become.
None of that matters as much as the storm of outrage roiling much of the country over what many conservatives chose to call an amnesty bill. The white hot anger — felt by the GOP’s most loyal, most reliable voters — directed at much of the party’s leadership threatens to ignite a grass-roots prairie fire that could make the 2008 election the Republican Waterloo. A nail in the coffin of the GOP that will keep it in the political wilderness for a decade or more.
The pleas and entreaties from the base to Senators not to bring the bill to the floor went unheeded. To make matters worse, several high profile backers of the bill all but called opponents of the measure racists and xenophobes. This incredible tone deafness on the part of party bigwigs will cost them dearly. Conservative websites are filled to the brim with commenters who swear that they’ll never vote Republican again, much less contribute any money to the party. Even if you chalk some of this up to hyperbole, the universality of the sentiments expressed by conservatives against Republicans is something that party leaders ignore at their peril.
The fallout affecting the President may be the most damaging of all. Having just defied a Congressional subpoena by invoking executive privilege, Bush may very well need the base he has just alienated in order to fight off efforts by Congress to dig deeper into the administration’s paperwork jungle. While it’s unclear how hard the Democratic Congress is willing to press the issue, they will not have to worry about a united Republican Party standing behind the President.
Then there’s Iraq. Will the base still go to the mat for Bush in September when the next round of the Bush vs. Dems cage match begins? Public support for the war is already at its lowest ebb. If conservatives were to abandon the President, he would find himself in a lonely position indeed. Already bleeding support on the Hill, by September the Commander in Chief could find himself in the position of being barely able to muster a corporal’s guard worth of Congressmen to support him on Iraq.
Finally, the “I” word. Speaker Pelosi promised there would be no impeachment proceedings against the President following the Democratic takeover of Congress last November. But impeachment talk has been recently revived among the powerful netroots community, and defying a Congressional subpoena will do nothing to tamp down that kind of talk. Depending on how far the Democrats want to take a constitutional confrontation, the pressure on the House Democratic leadership to at least begin an investigation into the possibility of impeachment may be too great to resist. One wonders if Bush has enough support in either chamber to survive such an effort. He certainly won’t have much help from angry conservatives out in the hinterlands.
Because many Senate Republicans worked to bring this bill back from the dead, I might suggest that some kind of wholesale sanity test be administered to discover the basis for this mass delusion. Either that, or perhaps we should open an investigation into whether or not we have a coven of closet masochists serving in the most deliberative legislative body in the world. Any explanation would be preferable to the idea that these guys really aren’t that bright, and have shaken the Republican Party to its foundations simply because they were too stupid to realize the consequences of their actions.
Rick Moran blogs at Right Wing Nut House.