Photo credit: sodahead.com
The bad news: The GOP may yet pass an Amnesty bill. An article titled "Amnesty: The Next GOP Betrayal" by Michael R. Shannon appeared at CanadaFreePress over a week ago:
Amnesty is a payoff to big business, Democrat interest groups and tribal voters. There is no compelling Republican rationale for passage either morally or politically.
Yet the GOP leadership looks poised to cave. The good news: Roy Beck at NumbersUSA assessed the SOTU reactions from Congress:
It seems a good sign that [President Obama] thought it would be harmful to his cause to tell Americans anything specific that he wants on immigration.
We had been told ahead of time that he would play nice with his immigration statement so as not to offend House Republicans who he is trying to win over. Still, I was a bit surprised -- and I think encouraged -- by his timidity.
Republican Response Speech A Bit More Troubling -- But Still Encouragingly Vague
Republicans picked one of the House's top party leaders -- Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) -- to deliver the response.
Because many news media have practically declared the inevitability of House Republicans helping pass an amnesty this year, I was much more interested to hear what she would say.
Since she didn't really mention that many issues, it wasn't a good sign that she and her colleagues thought she should make such a big deal about immigration reform. Still, hers was also just a paragraph and more vague than specific:
And yes, it’s time to honor our history of legal immigration. We’re working on a step-by-step solution to immigration reform by first securing our borders and making sure America will always attract the best, brightest, and hardest working from around the world.
Why do I have a strong idea that Mrs. McMorris Rodgers hasn't the first clue about our history of immigration or what we should honor about it?
Is she aware of our immigration history of a century ago, when mass immigration like we have today created increasingly wide income disparity, a huge underclass and was a primary tool for keeping the freed slaves and descendants of slaves in virtual servitude out of the mainstream of American jobs? How does she propose to honor that history?
I am particularly concerned by her call that we make sure that America always attracts the "hardest working from around the world." Sounds like she is committed to helping the corporate lobbies import any foreign worker who they think will work harder, longer and at lower wages and benefits and working conditions than the Americans who employers otherwise would have to recruit and train.
Is there any chance that a person giving any of these addresses could note that the point of immigration policy is to protect Americans.
But her rhetoric is vague enough that the Republicans at their Chesapeake Bay retreat Wednesday through Friday won't have to embarrass her or seem to reject her when they show no enthusiasm for the GOP leadership's definition of "immigration reform."
Applause During Obama's Immigration Paragraph May Have Been Telling
Back when I was a congressional correspondent sitting in the press box overlooking the SOTU proceedings, I took a lot of notes on how and when particular Members responded to parts of the speech. I had to depend on the camera feed for the TV networks, but I was intrigued with what I saw from the top 3 House Republican leaders during the President's immigration paragraph.
After his first sentence ending in "fix our broken immigration system," Vice President Biden quickly moved to his feet as did all Democrats in a pretty resounding ovation.
That certainly put Speaker Boehner in a tough position. He knew the cameras were on him. His corporate donors want him to give Mr. Obama what he wants. But Mr. Boehner also had earlier this morning seen a strong negative reaction from his Republican Members to the news reports about a possible GOP legalization plan. Does the Speaker rehearse his reactions ahead of time? What would he do on this one?
I was relieved that Mr. Boehner didn't seem to have the slightest inclination to stand the way leaders of the "other party" sometimes feel they have to when baseball, mom and apple pie are being lauded. Instead, Mr. Boehner gave a non-committal facial expression and slowly applauded while remaining seated.
The camera swung to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor who was giving a moderate applause while looking very serious. At the edge of the camera shot was the No. 3 House Republican Kevin McCarthy also being careful not to look too enthusiastic, despite recently saying that he looked forward to moving legislation that gives work permits and legalization to most illegal aliens.
It looked like maybe a half-dozen Republicans were confident enough of their constituents to stand with the Democrats in the ovation.
At the end of the President's immigration paragraph, there was more heavy applause. The camera caught Mr. Cantor not joining at first and then offering a pretty slow clap.
I'm not going to read too much into what the various body language tells us about where these GOP leaders stand but I think it tells us worlds about where they think their constituency stands.
Time to call Speaker Boehner. Again. And send postcards to his Ohio office (shorter security delay):
Speaker Boehner’s details:
Butler County Office PH (513) 779-5400
Miami County Office PH (937) 339-1524
Clark County Office PH (937) 322-1120
PH (202) 225-6205
FAX (202) 225-0704
And his mailbox:
Speaker John Boehner
7969 Cincinnati-Dayton Road, Suite B
West Chester, OH 45069
# # #