June 12, 2007

So 19% Says To 38%, Show Me That Popularity

Harry Reid has insisted that George Bush has to put his higher popularity ratings on the line and guarantee more votes from the Senate Republican Caucus on the line before Reid will resurrect the comprehensive immigration reform bill from the table. Bush takes that so seriously, he's going to do something he hasn't done in five years -- eat lunch with the Senate Republicans:

The top Senate Democrat said yesterday that President Bush must prove he can deliver more Republican votes before Democrats will put the immigration bill, which collapsed last week, back on the Senate schedule.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Mr. Bush that the only hope for the bill is if he delivers the votes of more than 20 Republican senators to break a filibuster and pass the measure.

The Nevada Democrat had a frank assessment of the bill's prospects, saying the 51-member Democratic caucus was "about maxed out" at the 38 votes they delivered on a test vote on the bill last week 22 short of breaking a filibuster. They were joined by just seven Republicans one-third of the number Mr. Reid says the president must deliver.

Reid has emerged as one of the roadblocks to the bill, and for good reason. Reid first agreed with the bill's backers and scheduled only four days of debate for the bill, attempting to limit the Senate's ability to amend the compromise. When Republicans made it clear that Reid would never get cloture under those circumstances, he extended the debate for another four days, but in the end the amendments -- and the arrogance of the scheduling -- doomed the bill. And since Reid has not taken a public position on the bill, some believe he wanted it to fail, although in fairness he did almost everything that the bill's backers wanted him to do.

Bush's position in support of the bill is crystal clear, however, and Reid knows that Bush wants this very badly as a show of presidential strength in the final two years of office. Having taking a beating, and with his popularity at an all-time low of 19%, Reid wants to push the debacle of the last two weeks onto the White House rather than himself. Bush apparently still doesn't mind that, and now will address a Senate Republican policy luncheon for the first time in five years to attempt to give CPR to the mostly-dead immigration bill:

For the first time in five years, President Bush will attend the Senate Republicans' weekly policy lunch today as he pushes to revive his moribund overhaul of the nation's immigration laws.

But even before he set foot in the Capitol, several Republican senators issued a terse warning yesterday: Don't expect much.

In the days after the broad compromise on immigration collapsed on Thursday, opposition, if anything, appears to have hardened among some senators who had once been willing to consider the deal. The bill's vociferous critics have also had a long weekend to throw dirt on its grave.

I find it rather amazing that George Bush, as leader of the party, has not bothered to appear at this weekly event for five years, even just as a courtesy to keep lines of communication open. Perhaps part of the reason for the wide gulf on immigration stems from his lack of interest in the policy debate in the upper chamber of Congress. His sudden appearance today almost seems a bit late in the game to start engaging the caucus now, especially since they lost their majority in January.

Lindsey Graham said yesterday that "Republicans can never successfully distance themselves from the leader of their party," but in this case, it's very clearly the President who has distanced himself from the party's base. He called the opposition to the bill "too cute by half," an interesting phrase for a man who called the party base "bigots" for opposing him and the President, and who threw a temper tantrum at Barack Obama on and off the Senate floor for offering a sunset amendment to the points system. Graham ceased being cute quite some time ago, and has provided an example of the ugly namecalling that has emanated from the bill's supporters.

The only way this bill gets off the slab is if Reid can get 60 votes for cloture right from the beginning. He needs 22 Republicans to support the bill in order to achieve that. Right now, he cannot even count on half that number, and the way that Bush and the GOP backers of this bill have handled themselves, one lunch of schmoozing won't be enough to close the gap. Bush has almost no gas left in his tank, and not only does he have little to offer for allies, he has little to frighten his foes.

This ... is ... an ex-parrot.


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Comments (25)

Posted by Mike M. | June 12, 2007 6:37 AM

Poor, clueless George Bush. He sure picked one hell of a time to start trying to schmooze!

I seriously doubt thay any of the Republican Senators, with the possible exception of John McCain, even want to be seen eating lunch with him at this point. His appearance will probably reduce the support for the bill.

Posted by burt | June 12, 2007 7:02 AM

Where does the 38% in the title come from?

Posted by Lew | June 12, 2007 7:04 AM

This is what we get when we elect a bunch of moderates and technocratic "fixers" to leadership positions. A bunch of tone-deaf policy mavens frantically pulling the levers and banging on the buttons of a machine long since broken and dead.

We're almost to the point where everything these folks try just hits the floor with a dull thud, like a dead body. At this juncture almost everyone is at the point where we have to admit that Republican "fixers" aren't that much different from Democrat "fixers". Both groups operate in some rarefied atmosphere above the rest of us that bears little resemblance to any "real" world that any ordinary citizen might recognize.

Posted by swabjockey05 | June 12, 2007 7:11 AM

Lew, you are so right...so depressingly right

Posted by TomB | June 12, 2007 7:18 AM

I second swabjockey05.

Posted by bulbasaur | June 12, 2007 7:20 AM

I know! Since both parties are exactly the same, let's really stick it to old Bush, or as I like to call him, "Bushitler" snort snort, and let's sit home like little girls and not vote.

Posted by lennie | June 12, 2007 7:25 AM

It's not a dead parrot......it's pinin'.....

Posted by Joe Doe | June 12, 2007 7:41 AM

I hope they server PRETZELS for the lunch ...

Posted by DaMav | June 12, 2007 7:44 AM

This is not the time to write this bill off. A sitting President and powerful Senators want it to pass, over the will of the American people. The danger of a sudden resurrection and passage remains.

This is the time to redouble our efforts to ensure this odious bill never sees the light of day. Get back on the phone, back on the fax, back on the email, and let your Senators and the RNC know. Tell them that the American people are not confused or mistaken. We want this blatant Z Visa Amnesty Act shoved where the Sun does not shine and buried once and for all.

Posted by james23 | June 12, 2007 8:02 AM

Agree with DaMav. Please go to NumbersUSA and use their super easy interface to fax your senators as well as the Minority Leadership.

Posted by rjc | June 12, 2007 8:12 AM

Please. Please. If you do not want this bill passed, write and call you senators today.

As a matter of fact, write and call ALL OF THEM who switched from the original vote to "no" on cloture. These people need to hear again from the American people that they should not jump back onto the sinking ship that is George Bush.

If you haven't registered at NumbersUSA, do so. They send faxes (free) on your behalf. Grassfire also sends faxes but they ask for money to do so. The voice of the American people had a lot to do with stopping cloture this past week. In just one week 7,000 new people registered with NumbersUSA.

If we are to stop this madness, we have to act. Here is what Newt Gingrich has just said: (Sorry for the long post, but it's important).

The Immigration Conflagration Is Not Yet Extinguished
by Newt Gingrich

Posted: 06/11/2007

When Washington quit work last week, it looked as though the disastrous Bush-McCain-Kennedy immigration bill was dead.

As I write this, however, it is now clear that the Bush Administration is determined to force it through with raw power, despite the fact that a large and increasingly vocal majority of Americans oppose it.

Every recent survey has indicated that the American people think it is better to drop this bill and start over. But the power brokers and special interests in Washington feel otherwise.

The White House press statement Sunday trumpeted: "This Bill Is Alive and Well"

The President is apparently going to go to lunch with the Republican senators on Tuesday.

Here are a few talking points you should share with your senator TODAY -- before the lunch with the President.

The Proposed Bill Is Based on a Fantasy and Could Never Be Effectively Implemented:

It is outrageous when the federal government is so incompetent it has to suspend passport requirements for Mexico and Canada while at the same time suggesting it will be able to process a "Z" visa for 12 million-plus illegal immigrants in one day. Tell your senator that only a Washington power structure totally out of touch with reality could propose that.

The Attempt to Blackmail the American People by Threatening to Refuse to Enforce the Law Without a New Bill Is Disgraceful:

A number of powerful figures in the Bush Administration and in the Senate have been saying that if we do not agree to pass this destructive bill, they will never enforce the law. Tell your senator that this is an extraordinary effort to blackmail the American people by having officials state that they will fail to perform their sworn duty, and we won't stand for it.

Americans Do Not Change Our Values to Fit Government Failures:

When Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said that we had to "bow to the reality" of millions of people being here illegally, he illustrated the difference between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan as President.

Carter kept trying to convince us to accept malaise as the best we could do and to lower our expectations. Reagan told us we had every right to dream great dreams because we were Americans. Tell your senator that Secretary Chertoff needs to get off the Carter failure team and join the Reagan success team. That goes for everyone else in Washington who is trying to tell us we have no choice except to "bow to" illegality.

Why Should Any American Believe That This Government Will Keep Its Word and Do Better This Time?

We now hear from the President that we have failed to control the border and failed to enforce the law on employers, and therefore, we need a new law to replace the law we have been failing to enforce. But we have been here before. The Simpson-Mazzoli immigration law passed 20 years ago promised the same things.

And this raises another question: Who has been running the government for the last six years? Why do we think anything will change and that the law will now suddenly be enforced? Over the last six years, the three recently arrested New Jersey terrorists who had been here illegally for 23 years had a total of 75 charges by the local police, and yet not once was our immigration enforcement infrastructure able to identify that they were here illegally. And now we are told that with the new comprehensive immigration bill, we will start to enforce the law against those have come here illegally after Jan. 1, 2007.

But ask this simple question: Under the proposed law, will local, state and federal officials really try to distinguish between those who came to the U.S. illegally prior to Jan. 1, 2007 (eligible under the proposed law for amnesty), and those who have arrived here illegally -- or those who overstay their visas -- after Jan. 1, 2007 (not eligible for the proposed amnesty)? The case of the 75 prior interactions with police of the Fort Dix terrorists demonstrates that we currently are incapable of identifying people here illegally, even if their names are in the judicial system. If 12 to 20 million are amnestied, who is seriously going to try and distinguish between the old illegal and the new illegal?

Another sign that enforcement promises may be as empty today as they turned out to be 20 years ago is that Arizona Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano just reported that the administration's budget cuts National Guard work at the border, even though the program is hopelessly behind in meeting its goals.

Tell your senator that this is a good time to remember the Reagan rule of "trust but verify." Show us the controlled border, show us the law enforced on American employers, show us the shift back to English as the official language of government and show us the end of sanctuary cities that refuse to identify those here illegally (by the way the Senate bill actually codifies the right of cities and counties to give sanctuary to illegal terrorists), then we will begin to think about a new bill.

This Is a Fight for America's Future: Your senator needs to understand that this is the key fight over America's future and returning to a law-abiding, effectively enforced, serious government worthy of the American people. Let them know they can be with the vast majority of Americans and kill the bill or they can side with the special interests and try to ram through this extraordinarily destructive bill. Either way, tell them you will remember them and how they vote.


Posted by sherlock | June 12, 2007 8:13 AM

Yesterday, in her NRO article "The Company You Keep", Linda Chavez spent over 5000 words basically saying that her recent insults were justified because actual racsists do exist.

Thanks for that apology, Linda. She also wrote 5000 words on immigration without using the word "enforcement" or any of its derivatives one single time. And the word "law" appears exactly once!

Like most of the pro-amnesty crowd, she won't look at what we really are saying... it's easier to just call us names, even if you take 5000 words to beat around the bush at it.

Posted by Angry Dumbo | June 12, 2007 8:18 AM

Americans do not support a "path to citizenship" if it is the road less traveled. Why buy the cow and become a citizen when you can get the milk free?

President Bush is playing this one smart and is taking one for the team. This is just posturing. By standing behind this dead bill, he will only assure that it remains dead. The bill was defective by design, the product of compromise, there is no fix here. Democrats ran and won in 06 as being a check on the president's power, now Republicans want a piece of that action.

Posted by MarkD | June 12, 2007 8:19 AM

Trust is a fragile thing. The Bush administration has earned none, even from natural supporters like me. The administration has done everything in its power to avoid securing the borders. Unitl they do, no deal, no amnesty.

We went along with Simpson-Mazzoli, which was the last and only amnesty. OK, I can be fooled, once.

I have no problem with legal immigrants - I'm married to one. She agrees that it is ludicrous to expect people here to accommodate her native language and customs. She insisted on taking her driver's test in English because she's an American citizen now and this is her country.

We need secure borders first, then we can figure out what to do with the 12 million illegals.

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | June 12, 2007 8:22 AM

"This ... is ... an ex-parrot."

Don't be so sure. Bush, quite a few in the GOP, and most of the Democrats want this bill to pass in the worst way. What they are looking for is the magic combination of wordsmithing that can provide for them cover while they pass the legislation that most effectively dilutes the medicine of amnesty with the sugar of enforcement.

Bush is effectively a lame duck, but it doesn't hinder him on this very unpopular issue with the Senate majority. At any other point in a presidential run, a President would be more responsive to the public ire. Candidates running for the job couldn't campaign for it. First-termers seeking a second term wouldn't pass it. The 2nd term midterm has passed and it's legacy-building time for a president with a pet project. Here's why it works with the Congress now.

Reid, at the guidance of Kennedy, has the majority and has a friendly Pelosi, heading the House, to his Left. They see a huge voting block just waiting to ensure a boost in Demophilic demographics. They will also reap the very same rewards from the pure capitalists so many presume only the GOP would win. For Dems, its a win-win of the assumed backers' side (the working poor and elite capitalists). Also, they have a president just itching to give them this demographic win in crucial southern states where the growth in the nation's constituency is highest. The South is gaining electoral power and it is increasingly populated by Dem-friendly would-be voters, and Bush foolishly thinks that the working poor will trend Republican no matter what the truth is. Everyone knows the GOP will never be perceived as being able to outspend the Dems on social policy (and classic GOP doesn't really want to), but Bush doesn't care due to his "compassionate conservatism."

The fine line for Reid is to saddle the unpopular amnesty onto a Republican administration so that his party doesn't suffer the wrath of the now not-so-silent majority should the bill pass. If Reid can get this bill through, he will for the rest of time be able to say to critics when history repeats that it was a Republican administration and a bipartisan Congress that passed a law that didn't work the way it was promised thus spreading responsibility and electoral blowback to everyone and not just the Democrats. Reid doesn't want to own this unpopular bill. He wants the GOP to own it.

Why give the GOP a "winning" ownership? Because Reid, Pelosi, Kennedy, etc. know that the voting demographic will shift into their favor so dramatically that they'll retain majorities for perhaps decades. Even better for them politically, they'll get to blame anything negative onto the bipartisan effort, a great political insulator.

What if the GOP ignores Bush and insists the Senate pass an extra "enforcement only" bill because it's a popular option? Will Reid decline? If he does, his party suffers the most blowback and all of the responsibility. If he delays, a frustrated public will see that the Democrats "cannot get anything done" even though they are the majority party. If he works to get an amnesty included into a future bill without GOP backing at any point in the future, the American electorate will excoriate him and his Democratic peers alone. Reid needs to get this done now while he has a complicit and, frankly, stupid (or dishonest) president in a particularly vulnerable state.

We are in a political perfect storm that may not (and probably wouldn't) repeat for a generation. Yet here we are with an insistent President ready to provide the cover Reid et al must dream about in their smoke-filled rooms. I don't think we are so much in the clear that the right mix of moderating Republicans, bought by big business, won't be attending holding humidors and lighters.

This parrot, or one very much like it, will be nailed to the perch for us to admire, only we won't discover the nail until we've brought the damn thing home.

Posted by The Yell | June 12, 2007 8:24 AM

What we need is a path to private citizenship for pro-amnesty Senators...

Posted by brooklyn | June 12, 2007 9:08 AM

"Bush wants this very badly as a show of presidential strength in the final two years of office"


does a responsible Leader want to fix a sincere problem?

the first comment implies a poor motive for a Man who clearly has a reputation for being ethical.

it is related to the lack of reasoned, professional hyperbole we see in Conservative arenas regarding illegal immigration.

if you mention the subject, we seem to get the true temper tantrums, the 'selling our sovereignty', the 'open borders crowd', nonsense that lacks basis in an advocacy for some resolution to a problem, but displays anger and hatred.

not certain if the President truly distanced himself from the BASE, as it seems a clear majority wants immigration reform, and the most strident who seem to oppose any action, who scream 'amnesty', may actually be a vocal minority within the BASE.

Immigration is one of the most embarrassing efforts in Conservative circles in recent memory, as many pundits continue to lower their credibility, failing to lead, placating anger and hyperbole, instead of seeking solutions.

Posted by Monkei | June 12, 2007 9:42 AM

38% for GWB must be an outlier poll result Captain!

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | June 12, 2007 10:20 AM


Where are you on this issue? Pro-failed Senate Bill? Amesty and enforcement? Enforcement first? Enforcement only? Other?

Need a liberal perspective since the resident Left remains expectedly silent on this matter. Yes, hacks love spectating the infighting, but this divide, albeit narrower, exists in the Democrat party, too. Reid et al would just rather not admit it. How about you?

RE: brooklyn (June 12, 2007 9:08 AM)
does a responsible Leader want to fix a sincere problem?

Do you believe the President is behaving responsibly by not enforcing the current laws? So far, he has insisted upon just the most meager level of enforcement action generally timed to coincide with Congressional votes. Status quo is, at best, the order of the day. How can such performance, particularly with this War on Terror, be considered at all responsible? And why is it that he continues to hold any new enforcement hostage to a form of amnesty whether immediate or delayed?

Posted by james23 | June 12, 2007 11:04 AM

brooklyn, if you think the base wants Bush's Amnesty bill, you are dreaming. Unless of course, he's found a new base. See Newt Gingrich's, or Thomas Sowell's, pieces from yesterday for a clue about how the base sees this Shamnesty fraud.

Posted by Monkei | June 12, 2007 11:40 AM

Thanks for asking AD. I personally had no problem with the bill. It seemed like the most logical bill that anyone could come up with. Since there is no way to round up 12 million aliens and send them back and since most are firmly entrenched in the US doing jobs for small and big businesses at a percentage of the costs of what US workers would cost ... did they break the law entering, yeah. So what do you want to really do about it? Round them up and fly them back to Mexico or whatever country so that you can triple your costs for produce at the grocery market or for building your house or for your hotel room stays? Hell we can't even get over the fact that we are paying 3.00+ for gas in this country.

The real solution is a pathway to citizenship and enforcing the border a lot better than we have done since Reagan first put amnesty in the books. Not pretending that we "really" want to send them all back!

So short answer, amnesty and enforcement now.

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | June 12, 2007 12:40 PM


I won't quibble with "the most logical bill" suffice it to say I have disagreed with that position in the past, repeatedly, and will continue to do so, but I appreciate an admitted position from the Left perspective.

What I will remind you of is that this bill is being sold as the cure for illegal immigration, that laborers will now come out of the shadows and that we'll stop the next wave of amnesty seekers. So, guess what real legislation Congress just passed that's intractably relevant here? A huge increase in minimum wage. So now we have a huge surge in "legal" workers who are lawfully guaranteed NOT to operate at slave labor rates for those very companies that thrived on illegal hiring to outcompete their lawful competition. Now what? Prices due to increased labor costs will happen anyway... this time by a different market force, namely, another law.

Do you think that such an amnesty will dry up the desire of those very companies to repeat the same illegal hiring they've been perpetuating and promoting for decades? Do you trust that our regulatory institutions are going to step up enforcement (since electoral disincentive has been removed) to ensure we do not regress to our habitual, selectively enforced law? I've not seen any evidence to challenge the belief that this is yet another kicked can. Worse, the can is getting bigger.

Now, you suggest that costs in some industries will rise... three-fold even. That's a gross exaggeration and is not a true accounting of the actual costs accrued in the net production of foods or construction projects. Produce specifically will rise temporarily a few pennies on the dollar until capital is diverted to better machination just as it happened during the slave labor days in an agrarian South. It's amazing how history repeats though there are, obviously, differences in the way people's are "owned." Be that as it may since there exists choice, the final result is that labor costs for certain industries will rise a bit for some time not any bit different from any other market force in an honest, capitalistic domain.

Worst case, so what if prices rise? I'll accept an honest system at a premium than a dishonest one that rewards those who cheat, whether labor or employer. The thing is that savings of cheap labor is a false one. The costs are actually shifted from particular corporate interests to taxpayers who must pick up the shortcomings via social services to prop up the poor. There is no savings. It's just moved into the government's debit column and onto our future generation's debt column. Worse, inefficient government handling of those institutions doling out the support require, if not waste, a huge chunk of that "savings" in their redistribution of wealth.

So, what to do? Enforcement only. Then, after a few years (at least four to eight) of the federal government 1) installing the processing mechanisms, 2) boosting/financing the needed personnel, 3) testing and validating that the checks work, and 4) handling the legal applicants in queue who followed the rules, revisit the idea of a pathway to citizenship. In the interim prosecute those who are still here illegally starting first with those who are felons, those who have committed many misdemeanor crimes, and those who have been here the shortest amount of time. Law enforcement elsewhere, such as employer prosecution for illegal hiring and termination of social services, will provide the incentive for a huge number to attrit without any other active effort on the part of law enforcement.

I'll accept some, tightly restricted amnesty after extensive, extended, and honest effort has been made to control a chaotic policy. Up to now, there has been practically none.

I agree with the criticism of Reagan's amnesty. That was one of his few, albeit major, mistakes. I also agree that some quarters do want to keep their indentured servants and cost shift in an economy whose milieu becomes increasingly mobile. However, we are both citizens of America and not of The World, hence we have an allegiance to it and its legal citizens since we are restricted by its governance. That cannot be said necessarily of corporations whose interests are increasingly global and that may move to greener pastures seeking the lowest common denominator in the labor pool. Their allegiance is to a bottom line in a legal framework of their choosing, not to a nation indivisible.

Posted by Anthony (Los Angeles) | June 12, 2007 1:59 PM

One of the great failings of this Administration, one that's amazed me from the start, is their poor handling of congressional relations.

Posted by Jaded | June 12, 2007 3:52 PM

RE: brooklyn (June 12, 2007 9:08 AM)
does a responsible Leader want to fix a sincere problem?

A true sincere leader would never question the patriotism of his base of supporters

A true sincer leader would never egg on his opponents by smugly saying "I'll see you at the bill signing"

Those my dear are not actions of someone who is sincere those are the action of an arrogant elitest paternal fool. He knows better then everyone on everything he's the President don't you know, he is no longer human he is extra special and we are all rubes. Yeah right.

Posted by Jaded | June 12, 2007 3:56 PM

RE: brooklyn (June 12, 2007 9:08 AM)
does a responsible Leader want to fix a sincere problem?

A true sincere leader would never question the patriotism of his base of supporters

A true sincer leader would never egg on his opponents by smugly saying "I'll see you at the bill signing"

Those my dear are not actions of someone who is sincere those are the action of an arrogant elitest paternal fool. He knows better then everyone on everything he's the President don't you know, he is no longer human he is extra special and we are all rubes. Yeah right.