Trying to kill the immigration card
By Selwyn Duke
With the victories of Mike Huckabee and John McCain in the first two primary contests and Mitt Romney's failures prior to Michigan, a fiction is being bandied about: The anti-amnesty position isn't playing well in Peoria.
A good example is this San Diego Union-Tribune piece didactically titled "Lesson Learned?" (read: Take the blue pill or your fantasy will become a nightmare in November). It's dishonest pablum, with more spin than a whirling dervish on speed.
The editors begin with a convenient characterization, stating that amnesty proponents Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Huckabee and McCain are prevailing while opponents are faltering; Romney is losing the race and Tom Tancredo has left it. A few slippery paragraphs down the rabbit hole, a triumphant proclamation follows:
"Voters have obviously had their fill of divisive rhetoric, catchy slogans and shameless demagoguery passed off as solutions to the immigration problem. And they're letting the candidates know it."
The answer is "wrong," bellowed with John McLaughlin intensity.
The truth is just the opposite. The "divisive rhetoric, catchy slogans and shameless demagoguery passed off as solutions to the immigration problem" voters have had their fill of emanate from the scamnesty side. And the candidates know it. This is why every presidential contender either pleads the fifth on illegal immigration or proposes to deep-six it.
With the Democrats, mum's the word. It's correct to say they don't talk tough on immigration, but more apropos here is that they don't talk about it much at all. Why do you suppose that is? While they don't want to alienate the far left, they're also mindful of winning Reagan Democrats. Hence the balancing act.
As for Tancredo's early exit, it's not that his immigration stance has been rejected; it's that all the Republicans are Tancredos now. Huck has reinvented himself, preaching against amnesty and rolling out a plan designed to secure the borders and toughen enforcement.
And if McCain hasn't seen the light, he certainly fears the darkness. The Trib cites his co-authorship of last summer's scamnesty bill to burnish its position, pretending to forget that this very proposal provoked the McCain Mutiny and sent his campaign into exile. But despite Father Time's merciless march, McCain's memory loss is not so profound. Twice shy on the trail, he now says he has "heard people" and emphasizes border security and not rewarding illegal behavior.
As for Romney's woes, the San Diego paper would have us confuse cause with effect. It proposes that Romney finished second in Iowa and New Hampshire largely because he ran commercials casting his opponents as pro-amnesty.
Romney's precipitous drop in the polls was not caused by the attack ads – it inspired them. He only ran them after Huck surpassed him in Iowa with Christian credentials and a populist message and the old soldier made him fade away in the Granite State.
Moreover, while the message is sound, the messenger is suspect. Romney plays the right notes, but the tune never sounds authentic. With his reputation as a shape-shifter, people just don't think he is as good – or his targets as bad – as he would have them believe. Political ads are only as credible as their source.
The truth is that the Trib insults its readers' intelligence by childishly casting correlation as causation. They well know that political fortunes rest more on money, mystique and marquee names than purity of policy. They know that a pro-amnesty Democrat is going to win every primary not because of said position, but because all the Democrat candidates embrace it. They know Republicans are wholly dissatisfied with the viable contenders – none of whom possess impeccable immigration credentials – and are reduced to looking for the largest lilliputian. They know Obama's win was Hollywood, Hillary is the anointed one, Romney labors with a plastic persona and that Tancredo, lacking Ross Perot's bankroll or Pat Buchanan's personality, couldn't escape political Siberia. They just don't want you to know it.
This is why I will call these editorialists liars. If the media thought these candidates' real record on immigration resonated, why wasn't it front page all along? After all, it is a position with which they agree. Please, lilliputian leg men, if being pro-amnesty plays so well, I challenge you to consistently tout the pro-illegal credentials of Clinton, Obama, McCain and Huck.
I dare you.
Do it, and watch their poll numbers fall like your circulation.
I won't hold my breath waiting, as the media are playing a game. When they want to crown a candidate king, they need only suppress reportage of any pro-amnesty leanings he might have; once he's coronated, however, they then extrapolate those leanings to his supporters, creating the illusion that such sentiments enjoy popularity. They are then, finally, revealing the truth about these politicians, but only when doing so will give the impression that manly immigration-control advocacy is a losing strategy. Then, it is hoped, those who support enforcement of immigration law will become disheartened and adopt an "If you can't beat ‘em, join ‘em" attitude for fear of electoral disaster.
That's the straight dope on these cut-rate Machiavellis who play their readers for dopes.
I hope the lesson is learned.