Republicans learn to be careful what they wish for.

Seems the Republicans thought they had a pretty good wedge issue in the whole immigration reform legislation that’s been in the news lately, but what they thought was a black and white issue may end up biting them in the ass before it goes away:

In the wake of this week’s massive demonstrations, many House Republicans are worried that a tough anti-illegal-immigration bill they thought would please their political base has earned them little benefit while becoming a lightning rod for the fast-growing national movement for immigrant rights.

House Republicans rushed through legislation just before Christmas that would build hundreds of miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, require that businesses verify the legality of all employees’ status through a national database, fortify border patrols, and declare illegal immigrants and those who help them to be felons. After more lenient legislation failed in the Senate last week, the House-passed version burst into the public consciousness this week, as hundreds of thousands of protesters across the country turned out to denounce the bill.

“There was political calculation that they could make this the wedge issue of 2006 and 2008, but it’s not playing out that way,” said Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.). “This has galvanized and energized the Latino community like no other issue I have seen in two decades, and that’s going to have electoral consequences.”

Republicans say they could accept that sentiment if they believed they had won political points from the GOP’s restive base. But for all the negatives, they don’t have many positives to show for their efforts.

It’s almost like they all forgot how popular President Bush was with Latinos back when he was Governor of Texas or how much effort he put into reaching out to that community during his elections with the long-term hopes of attracting a greater number of Latinos to the Republican camp and away from Democrats. Oops.

The folks over at The Moderate Voice sum it up pretty well:

Republicans apparently have a short memory on this issue: they need to go back and look at what happened to the GOP in California when then-Governor Pete Wilson backed 1994’s Proposition 187 ballot measure clamping down on illegal immigrants. The measure won (but later got tied up in court) and the GOP was decimated politically in California as Hispanic voters fled en masse to the Democratic party. (Wilson went from 47 percent of the Hispanic vote to 25 percent).

Despite the Democrats still not really getting their shit together in terms of having a message to tell the public at large the Republicans seem to be doing everything in their power to hand the government back to the Democrats come the next election. According to NPR this morning the latest polls show that the public trusts Democrats more than Republicans on just about every major issue these days and are dead even with them on the issue of National Security, which was a Republican strong point for the past several years. The Republicans are quickly becoming their own worst enemy.

Update: People aren’t too happy with the President’s decision to authorize Libby to leak info to rebut his war critics either:

The latest USA Today/Gallup poll finds more than 6 in 10 Americans critical of President George W. Bush on the leak controversy. The more closely people are following the issue, the more likely they are to say he did something illegal rather than unethical. The poll also shows that 37% of Americans continue to approve of Bush’s job performance, unchanged from last month. While that is a low rating — and among the lowest of the Bush administration — it represents no change in four Gallup polls conducted since the end of February.

Overall, 63% of Americans believe Bush did something either illegal (21%) or unethical (42%), while 28% say he did nothing wrong.

The more closely people are following the issue, the more likely they are to say Bush did something illegal rather than unethical, though expert opinion suggests that Bush has the authority to declassify information and thus his actions could not have been illegal. The less attentive respondents are more likely to think Bush did something unethical rather than illegal.

The percentage of Americans who say Bush did nothing wrong is not affected by how closely they are following the issue. The least attentive group is much more likely to express no opinion (21%) than either of the two more attentive groups (2% to 4%).

Views are highly correlated with party affiliation. Sixty-one percent of Republicans say Bush did nothing wrong, while only 18% of independents and 8% of Democrats agree. On the other hand, 30% of Republicans say Bush did something unethical or illegal, compared with 70% of independents and 85% of Democrats.

It’s been quite awhile since politics gave me much to smile about, but lately I’m having trouble getting the grin off my face.

2 thoughts on “Republicans learn to be careful what they wish for.

  1. Yeah, I’m highly conflicted on the best (or least worst) course on the whole illegal immigration situation (I can see the validity of too many of the points from all sides), but I have to say I’m amused by the irony that conservative/nativist exploitation of the issue may turn out to actually backfire on them.  Big time.

    Re the Libby Leaks—I’m not one of those who’s following this word for word, but essentially the latest “evidence” is basically what Libby is claiming (per the prosecution), which is hardly a smoking gun (though it’s certainly one more strong whiff of cordite) esp. if Libby is the lying scumbag he’s been previously painted by some to be.

    The case does bear close watching, though.

  2. Man, I wish we had a president from a border state so he’d understand immigration issues and our illegal immigrant base wouldn’t grow from 3 million to 11 million during his administration.  Oh, wait…

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