It is significant that bloggers as sharp and deep as the Power Line writers share with other, less perceptive conservative commentators, a blind spot on illegal immigration: They think the American people agree with them. The latest evidence:
The Associated Press reports that the effort to pass a compromise immigration bill this year is "all but doomed." The AP blames "election-year concerns in the House" and "conservatives' implacable opposition to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants." Translated, this means that the House leadership knows that the American people do not support a guest worker program or a path to citizenship for illegals, not to mention the more objectionable features of the Senate bill that are not yet widely known to the public. [Emphasis added.]I'll agree that the Senate bill is full of provisions that should be stripped out, but that's what conference committees are for. As for public opinion, I'm aware of no credible polling that has shown anything other than what this Pew Research Center poll revealed. As I noted then:
42%, a plurality-- and almost a majority-- of Republicans think illegals should be given some kind of temporary status. Conservative Republicans are more in favor of temporary status, with 46% in that category-- more than any other subset of the party.Read the poll. Remember, we're talking Republicans only here. 22% think illegals should be allowed to stay. The 42% who think illegals should get temorary status are the vast middle of the party. Only 29% of Republicans think illegals should be sent home. That 29% is the slice of the party to which congressional Republicans are now kow-towing. Power Line and Laura Ingraham keep referring to that 29% of one political party as "the American people." Sometimes I think conservative blogs and talk radio hosts with large audiences believe their audience is representative of the entire nation.
What's going on here is that Republican members of Congress are terrified that their base supporters will stay home on election day unless an "enforcement only" approach is adopted. That narrow approach won't fly politically, so nothing will happen this year on immigration. Those are the political realities, and with the Republican margin in the House as razor-thin as it is, I completely understand the GOP's relucance to act.
But let's not attribute that reluctance to the GOP leadership being in touch with "the American people." They're really in touch with less that one-third of the GOP-- about 29% of hard-core Republican voters.
Update: Harold Hutchison at Called As Seen has more on the charming tactics of that hard-core opposition group within the GOP. These are difficult people to get next to.
Update 2: Harold's at it again, here. Read the whole thing -- it is passionate and persuasive.