Wednesday, July 10, 2013


I'm just a dumb outsider who doesn't know what all the smart insiders know, but I never thought the GOP would go for an immigration plan that included a path to citizenship -- though I was hesitant to express my doubts because all the smart insiders told me it was absolutely a done deal.

Now those same insiders say immigration reform is dead, to their utter amazement:
Republicans walked away from their 2012 debacle hell-bent on fixing their problems with Hispanics. Now, they appear hell-bent on making them worse.

In private conversations, top Republicans on Capitol Hill now predict comprehensive immigration reform will die a slow, months-long death in the House. Like with background checks for gun buyers, the conventional wisdom that the party would never kill immigration reform, and risk further alienating Hispanic voters, was always wrong -- and ignored the reality that most House Republicans are white conservatives representing mostly white districts.

These members, and the vast majority of their voters, couldn't care less whether Marco Rubio, Bill O’Reilly and Karl Rove say this is smart politics and policy....
The conventional narrative of this is that establishment Republicans still want to pass a bill, but the Steve King wing of the party has spoiled the "sensible" Republicans' plans. I guess I believe that -- though I wonder about the most ambitious Republican connected with the reform effort, Marco Rubio, who was sending signs that he might want to bail on the whole reform process as far back as January. Did Rubio ever really care whether a bill got passed? Or maybe what I mean is this: Has he really been thinking all along that the only way he and his party can get a win out of this is by passing a bill?

I've suspected for a while that his plan was to seem supportive of a bill, then step back and watch as Republicans found some excuse to kill reform. Then he could run for president in 2016 with this message:

"President Obama failed to deliver comprehensive immigration reform, but where he failed, I'll succeed."

If he's right-wing enough on everything else, and if all the other 2016 primary candidates are wingnuttier and split the wingnut vote, and if he says "border security" enough times in the same breath as "comprehensive immigration reform," then maybe he can be in 2016 what McCain was in 2008 and Romney was in 2012: the guy who wins the Republican nomination even though he's not the most right-wing candidate. And then, if he can pull off this needle-threading, maybe he can pick up a few additional Hispanic votes without alienating too many white right-wingers. So maybe he doesn't care whether a bill is passed. Maybe arguing that he can get the job done (without ever quite explaining how) would be better for him than helping to get a bill passed.

The secret weapon for Rubio in all this might be the press. Sooner or later, I predict that the narrative on immigration could change from "crazy-base Republicans killed it" to "nothing gets done in Washington as long as we have divided government." Recall that that was a message Mitt Romney and his backers tried to use to sell us on his candidacy.

I know it strains credulity to think that a GOP House, an officially or effectively GOP Senate, and President Rubio could get a real immigration bill passed, but I can imagine nominee Rubio making that argument in a general-election campaign -- and idiots in the mainstream press buying it.

So maybe Rubio didn't care about anything in this process except getting an A for effort. And maybe he'll run as the guy who can succeed where a Democratic president failed.

And maybe we'll be stupid enough to believe him.

(Via Memeorandum.)


Philo Vaihinger said...

What are you smoking?

New voters created by such a deal would mostly vote Democrat and everybody knows it.

Existing GOP voters would mostly be opposed.

So, huh?

Unknown said...

"Maybe arguing that he can get the job done (without ever quite explaining how) would be better for him than helping to get a bill passed."

Well, yeah - this has been GOP SOP for five years.

Victor said...

I don't think Rubio's got the political skill to pull all of this off.

Of course, all of that changes if the MSM might be ready, willing, and able to help him.

aimai said...

Of course (some) Republican national level candidate will "argue" that he can get comprehensive immigration reform done where Obama couldn't. But he won't do more than mutter that out of the side of his mouth, where he hopes no one in the Primary voting base can hear him. All claims to be interested in solving any problem that human beings or liberals think is a problem have to be handled in this furtive way. Even Bush had to do his "compassionate conservative" and trial baloons to the hispanic community on the down low.

Even Rubio won't get farther than a kind of "look at me!" iconic front man stance on the issue. The last thing he can do is look like a squish on the subject to any primary voters. Like Obama had to run away from the image of the angry black man Rubio will have to stay far, far, far away from any suggestion of "amnesty" and since everything short of public electrocution for hispanic people is seen as "amnesty" he will basically have to keep his mouth shut to get past the primary and won't dare do more than gesture wordlessly at himself and his name for the purposes of courting the hispanic vote after a primary. Its not going to be very convincing.

Lit3Bolt said...

I think your analysis is good but flawed and I agree with aimai.

Sure, Rubio 2016 may be thinking this is a viable strategy, but in the age of youtube, it's incredibly easy to point out waffling on issues. Rubio will be hammered in the primary no matter what, because the national conservative base will likely not do a 180 from smearing the Kenyan Usurper to embracing the GOP Great Brown Hope (although I could be wrong...look at the rallying around Zimmerman).

In any case, the War with Iran candidate will win the GOP primary in 2016.

Steve M. said...

In any case, the War with Iran candidate will win the GOP primary in 2016.

Well, that could easily be Rubio.

aimai said...

Hell, we'll be lucky if it isn't war with Mexico.

Lit3Bolt said...

Steve M --

That's what I meant, but he'll have plenty of competition among everyone else singing "Bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb-Iran."

I agree it's starting to look as if Rubio is the 2016 shoo-in based on the conservative media, Jindal is too dark, Rand will be knee-capped by the military-industrial complex, Christie will be knee-capped as an "fat Obama lover from New Jersey," and Cruz will just be in the race to siphon off some of the crazy froth, and will be rewarded by the establishment with the VP spot, and Rick Perry will be too old and crazy-religious for the establishment.

Jeb would be the perfect establishment choice, but since we're still dealing with his brother's depression and wars, I think he'll have to be convinced not to run. I think even with Clinton on the ticket, they'll have to go with an alternative, and the younger the better.

Let's check back in 3 years and see how I did.