Thursday, July 06, 2006

Democrats Fall for Immigration Rope-a-Dope

Democrats have begun to haul off on Republicans for failing to pass an immigration bill, but they risk creating a bigger Republican victory if (when) the President signs a bill.

Bob Novak notes in his most recent article that:

Democrats have been pummeling House Republican leaders for calling hearings instead of getting down to business in resolving differences between the border enforcement bill passed by the House in a mainly party-line vote and the bipartisan Senate measure providing for guest workers. This week's hearings make the point that the Senate bill is filled with details that have escaped wide attention.

Democratic Representative Bob Filner of San Diego tells the Associated Press: "This is a charade. It’s a cover-up for the fact that they can’t produce a bill and they can’t secure our borders."

Nancy Pelosi says "Rather than addressing the president and their party's failure on border security and immigration, House Republicans today are holding the first of several field hearings on an issue on which they do not have a single accomplishment... Democrats propose a new direction on immigration. We believe it is long past time to focus on tough laws, actually implement them, hold the administration accountable for enforcing them, and pass comprehensive immigration reform," she said.

Ted Kennedy calls the current immigration hearings a "cynical effort to delay or kill a comprehensive immigration bill," and Harry Reid says Republicans are 'stalling.' He said of the President "He has complete domination over this Republican Congress. Let him tell us how much he really wants a bill."

Well, what are they going to say when a compromise is signed into law? 'This really isn't an important issue?'

In fairness to the Democrats, they are making two points:

1) The GOP hasn't produced an immigration bill; and,
2) The Senate bill - with legalization - is the way to go.

Now if voters support the Democrats on legalization, then Republicans will be punished if they produce a border-only bill. But the support for 'comprehensive reform' is a mile wide and an inch deep. No swing voter will punish Republicans for securing the border before dealing with a worker program. But as long as Democrats raise the profile of this issue, they are simply setting the GOP up for a bigger win when an immigration bill is signed into law.

If no immigration bill is signed into law - and I'm prepared to put up my firstborn to say that one will - then this is great politics. But otherwise, this is a foolish strategy - one that compounds the Republican victory when it comes.

It looks very much like the White House strategy on national security and Iraq. In 2002 and 2004, they were thrilled to have Democrats engage Republicans on those issues - because ultimately voters trusted Republicans more than Democrats to deal with those issues. Debating border security is fighting the Republicans on their own turf, and it will only suck oxygen away from issues where Democrats have an advantage.

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