May 30, 2006

JOHN MCINTYRE:

There is a quiet rage building among average middle class folks on the illegal immigration issue, and if the Republican leadership doesn’t take control of the problem very soon they will allow the more extremist wings of the anti-immigration debate to become the face of the Republican party on immigration. That would be a disaster for GOP hopes to grow their new found majority in the years to come.

The surprise that is building politically is how strongly illegal immigration will manifest itself in the fall elections. Contrary to the early conventional wisdom that the huge immigration rallies would galvanize Congress to pass some kind of “comprehensive reform” along the lines of the Senate bill, the reality is that House Republicans with their enforcement-first approach are poised to reap substantial benefits by killing the Senate’s reprise of Simpson-Mazzoli. . . . Republicans should understand that if there is a signing ceremony with President Bush, John McCain and Ted Kennedy on a compromise immigration bill that the Washington Post and New York Times praise, the GOP can kiss control of Congress good-bye.

Mickey Kaus has more, and observes:

If the House passes A (enforcement) and the Senate passes A (enforcement) + B (legalization)–and if, as the Weekly Standardites claim, the Republicans need to pass something, isn’t the most conspicuous candidate for that something the common element that has been approved by both chambers? In other words, A.

What’s been most striking to me about this whole affair has been the complete cluelessness, on the part of both the White House and the Congressional Republican leadership, on how this has been playing with the country and the base. The good news: It’s not government by poll! The bad news: It’s amazingly out of touch. (When we talked to Ken Mehlman, he was putting a good face on things, which is his job, but I certainly felt that he didn’t fully grasp what he was confronting. Bill Frist, on the other hand, seemed to get it, but hasn’t been as strong on follow-through.) And though McIntyre says that the importance of the immigration issue is a surprise, I should note that Hugh Hewitt has been warning for a year that the issue threatened the split the GOP coalition like no other. Not many people outside the blogosphere seem to have listened, though, and the result — once again — is the Republicans in political trouble that they could have avoided.

UPDATE: Polish your crystal ball by reading this piece by John Fund. He’s certainly got this part right: “So far, the White House and Republican National Committee are behind the curve.”