Specter of Defeat? Sen. Arlen Specter explained the apparent collapse of the vaunted "breakthrough" Senate deal on immigration:
"It's not gone forward because there's a political advantage for Democrats not to have an immigration bill," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa.
He said Democrats perceive a benefit in having only a GOP-written House bill that criminalizes being an illegal immigrant. That bill has prompted massive protests across the country, including a march by 500,000 people in Los Angeles last month. [Emph added]
Is Specter right? Or has he been reading too much of the MSM's recent pro-protest coverage? The most recent Rasmussen robo-poll on immigration suggests the latter. It asked people to choose between two hypothetical candidates:
"One candidate favors building a barrier along the Mexican border and forcing illegal aliens to leave the United States. The other candidate favors expanding the ways that foreign workers can legally get jobs in the United States." [Emph. added]
As noted earlier, the barrrier-builder won 46-38%--not surprising, and not a blowout. But the 50% "who say the immigration issue is very important in determining their vote prefer the pro-enforcement candidate by a much larger margin, 67% to 23%." That is lopsided. It "suggests that the short-term political advantage on the immigration issue lies with those who want a tougher enforcement policy," concludes Rasmussen.
At least in the 2006 election--a low-turnout mid-term in which intensity of opinion may be important in prodding voters to show up at the polls**-- the beleaguered House Republicans seem like the ones who benefit from "having only a GOP-written House bill" that stresses enforcement on the table, despite the excessive felony penalties. ... Will the House Dems sense this and at some point pressure the Senate Dems to pass a compromise in order to muddle the issue and give them something to support?
P.S.: A subsequent, richer AP report suggests, reassuringly, Democrats aren't really so stupid as to drink the same MSM-served anti-House Kool-Aid Specter seems to have been sipping.
In private as well as public, Reid and Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, who heads the party's campaign effort, said they did not want to expose rank-and-file Democrats to votes that would force them to choose between border security and immigrant rights, only to wind up with legislation that would be eviscerated in future negotiations with the House.
In other words, there was a penalty to pay with voters for looking soft, and the Dems chickened out of paying it.That's the advantage to the Dems of killing the deal: Not just that it won them voters who didn't like the House bill. It saved them from voters who didn't like Specter's semi-amnesty bill.
P.P.S: The Kool-Aid flows both ways! Specter may or may not actually believe the press' favorite theory that the House bill hurts the GOPs. But doesn't the press deserve some grief for, revealingly, swallowing Specter and Frist's hype of the bipartisan "breakthrough" deal that, it turned out, didn't have enough support. Here's the initial, now-embarrassing lede of the NYT'sRachel Swarns: