Immigration Catch-22

Yesterday, a bipartisan group of eight senators unveiled a comprehensive immigration-reform plan. Today, Barack Obama gave a speech outlining a very similar plan, causing the four Republicans in that group to disavow their own plan as a socialist plot whose only plausible purpose is to bring a tsunami of radical Kenyan immigrants to our shores so they can marry our women and produce future presidents who will further weaken this great nation.

OK, so that's not really what happened. But given recent experience, it wouldn't have been all that surprising if it had. Now that Barack Obama has joined the immigration debate with his own plan (like the bipartisan one, at this point it's not particularly detailed), it will take all the fortitude Republicans can muster to keep from doing a 180, just as they did on the individual health-insurance mandate and cap and trade, once those ideas were infected by contact with Obama. They know that their political future may depend on not screwing up this debate and alienating Latino voters any more than they already have. But in order to accomplish their political goal they may have to—and if there are young ones in the room you may want to cover their ears—agree with President Obama. Horrible, it's true, and it just shows how diabolical the president is that he maneuvered them into this position. 

There will no doubt be twists and turns before this debate comes to an end, and along the way the Republicans pushing reform may spend most of their time assuring their base that they haven't sold their soul to the dark lord in the Oval Office. This afternoon, Senator Marco Rubio, who wisely told Mitt Romney he had no interest in being his running mate, visited Rush Limbaugh to assure the talk show host that he'd be happy to walk away from a deal if it wasn't bristling with drones and border-enforcement agents. Limbaugh, who yesterday said "It's up to me and Fox News" to kill immigration reform, praised Rubio but was plainly unconvinced. 

And that's the dilemma—a familiar one for Republicans. On one side you have the majority of the public favoring immigration reform. On the other you have the GOP's base and its media figures, always pulling the party to the right. Satisfy one, and you'll anger the other. It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for them.


So They Say

"It looks like there’s a genuine desire to get this done soon, and that’s very encouraging. But this time, action must follow. We can't allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate.  We've been debating this a very long time.  So it's not as if we don't know technically what needs to get done.

President Obama

Daily Meme: Don't Forget Gun Control

  • It's been over a month since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. And, as happens with national tragedies, the public's horror is starting to fade, as is the urgency of preventing such a massacre from happening again.
  • As Aaron Blake points out today, "Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced a new version of the assault weapons ban on Thursday. And it’s already looking like a lost cause."
  • The NRA is continuing its full-court press against gun-control legislation, readying  its well-worn reasons for opposing an assault-weapons ban for a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting tomorrow.
  • Marco Rubio is also downplaying the chances of gun-control legislation happening this session. Big surprise. 
  • But, as Marin Cogan shows in an essay about her childhood in a family of liberal gun owners, the issue is far more complex than these guys make it out to be. 
  • However, support for stronger gun policy still exists, and is even coming from some unsuspected places. Bob Costas, in a Daily Show interview last night, said “Obviously, any sane person believes that we ought not to have high-capacity magazines and assault rifles and that there ought to be background checks."
  • And debates on gun policy are still robust on the state level. New York is putting into place its new gun laws, and Illinois is beginning serious talks about how to end the epidemic of gun violence happening in Chicago.
  • And yet, it's not enough. What we're willing to do in America is never enough to stem the tide of endless gun homicide. As Adam Gopnik wrote following the Aurora mass shooting, "In America, it has been, for so long now, the belief that guns designed to kill people indifferently and in great numbers can be widely available and not have it end with people being killed, indifferently and in great numbers. The argument has gotten dully repetitive: How does one argue with someone convinced that the routine massacre of our children is the price we must pay for our freedom to have guns, or rather to have guns that make us feel free? You can only shake your head and maybe cry a little. 'Gun Crazy' is the title of one the best films about the American romance with violence. And gun-crazy we remain."
  • As the gun-control tide recedes, Newtown's memories of what gun-craziness leads to remain. The police officers on the scene recently shared their account of what happened on December 14. "It is an account filled with ghastly moments and details, and a few faint instances of hope. One child had a slight pulse, but did not survive. Another was found bloody but unhurt, amid her dead classmates. Teachers were so protective of their students that they had to be coaxed by officers before opening doors. And the officers themselves, many of them fathers, instinctively used their most soothing Daddy voices to guide terrified children to safety."
  • For the police officers and parents who spoke in Monday's hearing at the Connecticut state house, politics aren't a good enough reason to stop pushing for the assault-weapons ban. "The time is now," said Veronique Pozner, whose son Noah was the youngest victim of the shooting.
  • Because as The Onion, of all places, points out, the NRA's position on guns is nothing more than a punchline. It's time Washington started treating it as one.

What We're Writing

  • Josh Eidelson looks at some alternative groups hitting the labor scene, and asks whether they will be as influential as their elder union brethren.
  • Jeremiah Goulka surveys the military women who have already broken halfway through the "brass ceiling" and the prospects all our GI Janes will soon have to shatter it.

What We're Reading

  • Jeffrey Toobin on the D.C. Circuit Court's latest crazy decision: It's a "useful reminder of where power resides in Washington. Presidents come and go, but the judges are there forever. And they know it."
  • Hillary Clinton has finally paid off her campaign debt from 2008. Thanks Obama!
  • Environmental scientists have turned to Urban Dictionary for support this week, deciding that Deepwater Horizon oil caused a "dirty blizzard" in their "dirty bathtub," all of which has dirty implications for the dirty days to come.
  • The Guardian takes issue with a funding increase for the NSA, pointing out that it's much less about defending the U.S. than it is about attacking everyone else, and, as Wired noted almost a year ago, spying the pants off of every one of us.
  • Ted Cruz thinks that a "path to citizenship" for undocumented immigrants "isn't fair." But neither is, for instance, the fact that those immigrants were born somewhere worse off than the U.S., that they were not selected in an immigration lottery, or, really, that any of us born here were born here.
  • In a daring follow-up to Republican forcible- and legitimate-rape comments of yesteryear, an anti-abortion group has encouraged the GOP to go one step further in questioning abortion in such cases, declaring "rape, schmape."
  • It looks like the Scouts might let in gay kids if each troop thinks it's okay, but not as a rule. BSA said "the Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents." Except, you know, for the last 103 years.

Poll of the Day

Public Policy Polling took a show of hands in Texas, and it looks like Governor Rick Perry may be on his way out. More Texans want him out than want him in, and he leads his attorney general by a 41-to-38 margin that's as iffy as evolution. Perry's credit is good on guns, religion, and the way the planet's probably actual cooling down or in a cycle or something, but his stance on immigration might hurt him as the primaries approach. The other news? That AG guy is doing way better against the Dems than Perry is, "up 7-12 points against all the Democrats" tested.

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