New third rail in American politics announced

And what is it? Comprehensive Immigration Reform (a.k.a. legalization of illegal aliens and huge expansion of legal immigration). The word came from former Republican Leader, former Republican Whip, and former senator Trent Lott, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill:

His advice to current Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on immigration reform? Don’t even try it.

Lott said his unsuccessful attempt to help pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2007 (when he was serving as Minority Whip), drove him to leave office.

“I think it’s going to blow up on him,” Lott warned. “This is not a winning issue politically.”

Lott said he received death threats and verbal assaults from people in Mississippi over the immigration issue.

“That bill is one of the reasons I decided to leave when I did,” said Lott, who is now a lobbyist. “This is a very dangerous issue.”

I guess Lott heard from so many “bigots” who were adamantly and unreasonably opposed to the legalization of 12 million illegal aliens that he just couldn’t handle it any more and decided to quit politics. Now if we could go beyond the vitally important but negative act of stopping amnesty for illegal aliens (which, like the British Army’s miraculous escape from Dunkirk, saves us from defeat but doesn’t accomplish anything), and move to the positive act of drastically reducing legal immigration, we’ll be getting somewhere.

UPDATE. This just in from the AP:

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE—President Barack Obama said Wednesday that there “may not be an appetite” in Congress to deal with immigration immediately after going through a tough legislative year.

With energy legislation on the table and midterm elections approaching, Obama said he didn’t want to force an immigration bill through Congress “just for the sake of politics.” Still, he said discussions on the issue must move forward in a way that can garner the support of the American people.

“We’ve gone though a very tough year and I’ve been working Congress very hard, so I know there may not be an appetite immediately to dive into another controversial issue,” the president told reporters aboard Air Force One returning with him to Washington from a Midwest trip.

Hmm, is it lack of appetite—or the new third rail of American politics?

* * *

Also, what happened to the Democratic leadership’s sudden switch from Cap and Trade to immigration last week that infuriated Lindsey Graham? Why alienate Graham and kill Cap and Trade for nothing? Who knows? And what happened to Obama’s stated intention to strike back at the Arizona law, and firm up his Hispanic base, by pushing for comprehensive reform this year? Here, sent by Paul K., is the AP story on it from April 24:

Obama Blasts Arizona Law

Governor Signs Strict Immigration Measure as Fight Moves to National Stage

In an unusual White House attack on state legislation, President Barack Obama harshly criticized an Arizona measure to crack down on illegal immigration and made clear Friday that he is looking for an election-year fight over the volatile issue… .

The president’s comments, delivered during a Rose Garden naturalization ceremony for members of the armed forces, was a forceful sign that Mr.

Obama planned to push the immigration issue before the November elections, responding to frustration among Hispanic voters and their advocates over inaction… .

Democratic strategists said Friday that Mr. Obama’s new push reflects a renewed feeling after the health care bill’s passage that difficult legislation can be accomplished. But they said the White House also sees the Arizona law as a political opportunity. They likened Ms. Brewer’s decision to that of California Gov. Pete Wilson in the 1990s, whose embrace of anti-illegal immigration measures preceded major losses by Republicans among Hispanic voters.

[end of quote of AP article]

* * *

UPDATE: Could Obama’s turn away from immigration, stated to reporters on April 28, have been sparked by Clintonite William Galston’s April 27 column in The New Republic in which he urged the Democrats not to pursue immigration or climate change this year? Galston says that he supports both bills on the substance, but that he disagrees “with the political calculation that seems to be driving this strategy,” namely that the immigration bill will win Hispanic voters, and the climate bill will win younger voters. His reasoning is pure Steve Sailerism:

… 90 percent of the electorate is not Hispanic, and 85 percent is not young. Relatively modest shifts in voter sentiment outside these two groups could easily swamp increased turnout within them and turn all-but-certain Democratic losses into a rout of historic proportions. While the temptation to adopt a strategy of targeted micro-politics is understandable, Democrats should instead espouse a strategy of macro-politics focused on broad-based public concerns. If that means that Senate Democrats will have to choose a new majority leader next January, so be it. At least they’ll still have a majority. [Emphasis added.]

Translation: there are a lot more white middle class people in the electorate than Hispanics and AGW-crazed young people. Taking positions that appeal to the last two groups drives away much larger numbers of the first group. Conversely, taking positions that appeal to the first group wins far more votes than positions that appeal to the last two groups.

- end of initial entry -

April 29

Ferg writes:

I can only hope that Trent Lott is right. It would be a nice change for him to be right on an issue. I do think non-Hispanic white America is becoming aware of the problems with Hispanic immigration. If this law really works perhaps it will lead to a kind of sea change in the electorate. We have Immigration Law enforcement as a plank in our Republican Party Platform here and have had for quite some time. We have an endorsement battle for governor coming up at our convention tomorrow and I will be there. Fortunately both candidates say they support it. Unfortunately I am not sure I believe one of them. It is going to be a long fight and I think immigration is going to be a major part of it.

Bill Carpenter writes:

Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg says it is “national suicide” not to legalize illegals. Wonder where he heard that phrase?

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 28, 2010 10:57 PM | Send

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