Maybe Reid Played Immigration Correctly After All
Image courtesy of the AP
When I first heard the accounts of how the immigration bill went down to defeat last Friday, my initial conclusion was that Harry Reid blew it. Even though Bill Frist went back on his word from Thursday night and allowed his members to attempt amendments to the compromise bill on Friday morning, both John McCain and Ted Kennedy believed they had the votes to kill all objectionable amendments, so it sounded to me like Frist was only looking for cover by allowing his most conservative members to try to amend the bill in losing causes and save face back home. Yet Reid apparently got tired of seeing Frist allow the wing nuts to propose amendments to water the bill down. Knowing that the GOP would try still again to water it down further when it went to a two-house conference stacked with senators of Frist’s choosing instead of the members of Arlen Specter’s Judiciary Committee, Reid decided to use parliamentary means to derail the bill and force the GOP to vote against cloture and kill off their own compromise bill, so that the only official GOP position on immigration for the foreseeable future is the draconian House bill, which Reid is all too happy to hang around the necks of GOP incumbents this fall.
Will this tactic eventually pay dividends, and where was the White House in all of this? Well, Bush did what we would expect of him: blame Reid for the head-on collision that Bush helped create. After Bush used his Saturday radio address to blame Reid personally for the failure of immigration reform this session, you would expect the GOP caucus to be satisfied once again at their ability to screw something up and blame the Democrats for their own failings. Except it isn’t working out that way, as tomorrow’s Post reports. According to the story by Jonathan Weisman, Senate and House GOP members are grumbling that Bush was AWOL on the issue and demonstrated a lack of engagement and leadership on the issue, to the point that the GOP is worried about having nothing to show on immigration except that draconian House GOP bill that criminalizes immigrants. And a new Gallup Poll out says that the public supports the eseential elements of the McCain-Kennedy reform bill, a bill that John McCain voted against last Friday.
These fears among the GOP are heightened by today’s marches across the country, which placed additional pressure upon the GOP for any number of reasons. First, the marches were orderly and large, comprised of not only Latinos, but also supporters of all races. Second, the marches gave the true whack jobs amongst the GOP another opportunity to say stupid things about immigrants, which is like another free commercial against GOP incumbents this fall. And lastly, those who demonstrate today will be reminded that the only party that actually voted for an immigration reform measure last Friday was the Democratic Party, a fact that I am sure will not be lost on millions of voters this fall.
Perhaps Reid was right in how he played the issue last Friday. Tomorrow’s story in the Post has the findings of the ABC News/Washington Post poll on immigration, which shows that Democrats are now more trusted to handle immigration than Republicans, by a 50%-38% margin. In fact, the Democrats’ emerging edge on immigration parallels their advantages in the rest of the Post poll as well:
A majority of registered voters, 55 percent, say they plan to vote for the Democratic candidate in their House district, while 40 percent support the Republican candidate. That is the largest share of the electorate favoring Democrats in Post-ABC polls since the mid-1980s.
As Bush and the Republicans falter, Democrats have emerged as the party most Americans trust to deal with such issues as Iraq, the economy and health care. By 49 to 42 percent, Americans trust Democrats more than Republicans to do a better job of handling Iraq.
Democrats also hold a six-percentage-point advantage over the GOP (49 percent to 43 percent) as the party most trusted to handle the economy. Their lead swells to double digits on such as issues as immigration (12 points), prescription drug benefits for the elderly (28 points), health care (32 points) and dealing with corruption in Washington (25 points).
The public divides evenly on only one issue: terrorism, with 46 percent expressing more confidence in the Democrats and 45 percent trusting Republicans on a top voting concern that the GOP counts on dominating.
Get this: support for censure is up to 45% in this poll, with half of independents supporting the idea.
Yes, perhaps Reid knew what he was doing after all last Friday.