A few days ago, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told the audience at a Las Vegas fundraiser he was “hell-bent” on getting an immigration reform bill passed this year, even though some observers doubted it was the sort of internal battle Republicans wanted to fight, in the middle of an election season that has been looking very good for them.
On Thursday, Boehner returned to his home district and demonstrated just how hell-bent he is, by “theatrically mocking” those of his colleagues who refuse to get on board with immigration reform, as reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer:
“Here’s the attitude. Ohhhh. Don’t make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard,” Boehner whined before a luncheon crowd at Brown’s Run County Club in Madison Township.
“We get elected to make choices. We get elected to solve problems and it’s remarkable to me how many of my colleagues just don’t want to … They’ll take the path of least resistance.”
Boehner said he’s been working for 16 or 17 months trying to push Congress to deal with immigration reform.
“I’ve had every brick and bat and arrow shot at me over this issue just because I wanted to deal with it. I didn’t say it was going to be easy,” he said.
The GOP-controlled House has refused to pass the immigration proposal passed by the Democrat-led Senate that includes a path to citizenship for millions of people living illegally in the United States. Critics characterize it as amnesty. Boehner is advocating for a step-by-step process that starts with securing borders and enforcing immigration laws. He can’t get the House to consider it.
It sure is weird that a GOP-controlled House has been reluctant to pass an amnesty bill thrown at them by a Democrat-led Senate, isn’t it? Contrary to Speaker Boehner’s taunts, resisting immigration reform is much harder work than supporting it, at least within the Beltway bubble.
On top of everything else wrong with this legislation, at this point anyone who seriously thinks the Obama Administration would deliver on “secure borders” promises is clinically insane. There is nothing to be done as long as Barack Obama remains in the White House, not even if Republicans take the Senate in 2014, because that won’t stop this Administration from using its Constitution-shredding super powers to either ignore border-security requirements, or falsely declare them to be met.
Republicans serious about immigration reform should be explaining that to voters, not attacking members of their own caucus. Run down the list of Obama’s abuses of executive power, remind everyone he’s not shy about gutting all sorts of laws – including both immigration and his own “signature achievement,” ObamaCare – by fiat, and say anyone truly interested in sensible immigration reform wants a responsible Republican president working with a Republican Congress.
In any event, for the Speaker to taunt the rest of his caucus as lazy cowards because they haven’t caught Amnesty Fever is both poor debate strategy and bad politics. This is the sort of thing that gives Democrats hope that they might hang on to the Senate after all, as a dejected Republican base throws up its hands and concludes there’s no reason to rush to the polls in November. A big push for “comprehensive immigration reform” now, especially made in moralistic or insulting terms, is just the ticket for splitting the Republican base and making everyone forget about ObamaCare.
It’s not just Boehner, of course. We’ve already had possible 2016 presidential hopeful Jeb Bush (seconded by Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona) describe illegal immigration as an “act of love,” which means amnesty opponents are motivated by hate. That’s arguably worse than Boehner calling them sloths and chickens.
And then you’ve got Senator John McCain (R-AZ) saying that the failure to grant illegal aliens a “path to citizenship” is a “stain on America’s honor.” For good measure, he promised to name the amnesty bill after Ted Kennedy. Clearly it’s a major Republican priority to honor Ted Kennedy while importing millions of new Democrat voters.
Whatever the right way to push such legislation might be, this is most definitely the wrong way. Instead of addressing the concerns of amnesty opponents and engaging their arguments, these Republicans are making an effort to rule many of their colleagues – and a substantial majority of their constituents – completely out of bounds, lacking the moral stature to participate in the discussion. Boehner and McCain should think long and hard about where Republican voters stand on these issues, not just their recalcitrant colleagues on Capitol Hill.
Perhaps the GOP immigration-reform caucus should try thinking a few moves ahead for a change, and ponder how this scorched-earth rhetoric will come back to haunt them when Democrats inevitably raise the stakes and come back looking for more. There is no “path to citizenship” offer Republicans can make that Democrats won’t top… and when the bidding gets high enough to make someone with Boehner’s position fold his cards, he’ll find himself on the wrong end of McCain’s “stain on America’s honor” rhetoric.
GOP immigration reformers are dropping sound bites Democrats will be able to use against the Republican Party later, damaging their own brand in a mad rush to address an issue that doesn’t even make it into the top 5 voter concerns, in a misguided effort to win approval from a media culture that will never stop hating them… and support from a constituency that is generations away, at best, from voting for them. They’re picking a no-holds-barred fight guaranteed to unite Democrats and divide Republicans.
They’re also trashing a principle the GOP should be running hard on: the rule of law. You can’t say the rule of law is important in one breath, then advocate clemency and benefits for certain lawbreakers in the next.