Poor Trent Lott. The Senate Minority Whip’s job is to control the young guys and get their votes on key issues. But it seems he can’t do it on the immigration bill. Resolute conservatives — three “younger” in Senate tenure, John Cornyn (R-Tx), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Jim DeMint (R-SC) are doing everything they can to preserve the security of our nation against the Bush-McCain-Kennedy immigration “compromise.” When Lott sees the determination in these gents, all he can do is whine and harrumph.
According to a New York Times report, Lott said he would try to rein in, “…younger guys who are huffing and puffing against the bill.” Lott, and the rest of the immigration bill’s backers, are feeling the heat generated by the conservative press and talk radio. Lott complained that, “Talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem.” How, Mr. Lott? Are you thinking of reviving the so-called “fairness doctrine”, which would require talk show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity to give equal air time to people who oppose their views? Do you really want to legislate Rosie O’Donnell a microphone in Laura’s studio?
That, dear reader, is a measure of the desperation felt by the Bush-McCain-Kennedy bill’s supporters. They know they’re in trouble.
Against the Bush-McKennedy bill conservatives are battling their president, many supposedly conservative senators, industry and all the liberals, big and small. As Baroness Thatcher memorably told Bush 41 some years ago, this is no time to go wobbly.
In the June 5 debate, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee said of the war, it’s not only the dog in the fight: it’s the fight in the dog.
We are at an important moment in the history of our nation, one that will be analyzed for hundreds of years to come. It is a moment when conservatives can falter, worn out from the fight, or reach down into our collective character and find the strength to keep up the fight now and in months and years to come.
The immigration bill, taken off the Senate schedule less than two weeks ago, is back and with a vengeance. When the Senate finishes the energy bill on Wednesday, the immigration “grand compromise” will return to the Senate floor. It’s easier to say what won’t happen than what will.
First, Jeff Sessions won’t miss any votes. Last week, the rumor that his long-scheduled June 21 fundraiser in Alabama, which President Bush will attend, would force Sessions to miss crucial votes on the immigration bill. But there won’t be any votes this week. Under the Senate rules, Harry Reid can’t force them that soon after the bill comes up. And Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) won’t allow Sessions to be snookered that way.
Second, Harry Reid won’t be able to bar conservatives from offering a number of amendments. There will be votes on them beginning next week. Many of these amendments will be aimed at killing the bill. If any bill deserved an ignominious death, this is it.
Third, even if the bill passes the Senate, it’s not necessarily going to become law. It still has to pass the House. And though the Pelosicrats can run roughshod over Republicans more easily than Reid can in the Senate, Cong. Brian Bilbray and his Immigration Caucus won’t be a pushover. If it passes the House — which is by no means certain — the ball game is still far from over. From some of those “younger guys” Trent Lott complains about, we can expect more energy and street smarts. Sen. DeMint — among others — could block the appointment of conferees long enough to have the bill fail this year.
And fourth, conservatives won’t compromise on this bill. We want the borders to be secured, provably, before anyone agrees on any guest worker or “path to citizenship” programs for the illegals here. We won’t be bought off by the $4 billion the president offered last week to add to border security and workplace enforcement. In fact, that offer proves our point.
The sad fact is that our government has, since the 1986 amnesty, proved itself untrustworthy on border security and enforcement. That amnesty — because the government failed to secure the border and enforce the law — was a congressional invitation to the flood of illegals that have come here in the twenty-one years since.
It’s entirely fair to ask why this administration — or the next — should expect us to believe it will live up to the promises of border security and enforcement that are being made and will be made in the 2008 campaign. We don’t believe those promises for two reasons. One: if President Bush were sincere about border security, he would have done a lot since 2000, and he hasn’t. And he could do a lot right now, without demanding the Bush-McKennedy bill in trade. Two: if any candidate wants us to believe he is sincere about border security — which Sen. McCain is sincere about precluding — they need to say, clearly, that the border security must be accomplished first and that a “comprehensive” bill is precisely the wrong approach. That McCain’s presidential campaign is sinking is no coincidence.
How much fight is left in the old conservative bulldog? Plenty. This is a battle that won’t be over any time soon. We have to muster enough strength to stop this bill now. And even if we succeed now, we’ll have to fight this fight again next year, and the year after that.
Remember the words of a great bulldog of the past. In 1941, in Britain’s darkest hour, Winston Churchill said, “…never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” Make those phone calls, send those e-mails. It’s our duty to never give in.
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