Wednesday, June 27, 2007


In Casablanca, Captain Renault is "Shocked, Shocked!" to learn that gambling is taking place at Rick's American Cafe. In reality of course, that was probably the most famous ironic joke in the whole history of film. The whole world knew that there was gambling at Rick's, that what it was there for.

And such it is with politics. Everybody is sophisticated and world-weary. Everybody expects the backroom deals, the logrolling, the perk guarding. But despite all of this, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that some things truly are shocking. And the immigration bill currently before the Senate is one of them.

It's not especially shocking that the bill survived its first cloture attempt yesterday. For those who read the tea leaves for that particular episode, it was more or less expected. No, what's suprising for me is that that this bill, which is so singularly awful in so many unique ways, horribly unpopular with the people, just refuses to die. It was easier to kill Freddy Krueger.

A substantial number of commentators have claimed that this bill represents the death knell of the modern GOP coalition. To some extent, I take a contrarian view on that. President Bush will be out of office in a year and a half, and the Republicans need to do a great deal of repair work on their brand before the next Presidential election. This is the place to start. The President is hugely unpopular, and this is his least popular issue. If the Republicans can kill this bill, they can claim that they are the pro-security party, and open a great deal of common ground between themselves and the voters as a whole.

But still, my guess is the last chance for this GOP resurrection act is tomorrow. If the bill goes any further, there will be too many Republican fingerprints on it for that to be credible. And even if cloture does fail tomorrow, the anti-amnesty base of the party has to be able to exact some kind of retribution. The whole thing has gone too far to let the guilty get away scot-free. And what pompous blubbery targets they are as well: Voinovich, Graham, Trent Lott, McCain. If we can get some scalps, the GOP can recover its ability to credibly represent its prinicples to the American people.

Btw, I would have never guessed that I would ever feel sorry for Sen. Edward Kennedy. But I saw him for a few minutes on C-Span, and I pitied him nonetheless. He was old, rambling, distracted, incoherent. The passion would return to his bearing for a phrase or two and just as quickly go away. Such are the ravages of age I suppose. It's not that I want to kick him when he's down, but it's just amazing to me that the GOP Grand Bargaineers cut such a lousy deal when that's who was on the other side of the table.