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The Senate Race
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My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
|A Leadership Moment--An Opportunity|
With the resumption of nationwide immigration protests today, and the planning for a nationwide "Day Without An Immigrant" proceeding apace, it is very clear that the failure of the Senate to come up with a bill dealing with immigration will not make the issue go away.
So it's time for someone to demonstrate a little leadership.
And the winner gets . . . ? Front-runner status for 2008 Presidential Nomination!
Well, what about the House? you may ask. Yes, it's true, the House has passed the Sensebrenner Bill which makes illegals felons, and strongly ramps up border security.
But that's only half the deal. And, in fact, it could be smartly argued that the "felon" label is too much of a burden to assure passage.
Don't get me wrong--at least the House has acted. A far cry from the dithering in the Senate, and arguably the real reason this issue is on the table at all right now. As a catalytic event, the House version is like Fort Sumter.
But I think everybody knows that it's not going to be the final word. And, it's also pretty safe to say that the forces behind this bill--Sensenbrenner, Tancredo, et al.--will never be the guys on the national stage.
So all we're looking for is a little leadership to get something done.
What about McCain/Kennedy? you may ask. Well, it did address the other half of the equation--what to do with those who are already here--but completely failed to address the border and anything security related. I think smart politics may have been to pass this bill, get something to conference, and then wait for final judgement until we all say the conference report. But that was never really going to happen, especially since the Dems really don't want a solution at all--they want the issue. So as much as it was heartening to hear "they've reached a compromise", Democratic obstructionism (who ever heard of a bill with ZERO amendments?!) doomed that effort from the beginning.
So we are now accepting applications for leadership positions. Qualified candidates will display the following characteristics:
:cursory knowledge of the fact that Americans by a 2-1 margin want the following:
--a. someone to recognize that WE think this issue matters
--b. a closed border (build the damn fence!)
--c. a compassionate approach to the immigrants who are here already, which includes an opportunity for naturalization
:an ability to articulate a simple message about a solution which meets all three criteria the American people want
:an ability to hold the GOP caucus together long enough to either get a bill or to force the Democrats into a filibuster
:enough moxie to make this THE issue in 2006; force the Congress to forego a couple of vacation days until this stupid thing gets hammered out.
It just so happens that "Day Without An Immigrant" is scheduled for the week after Congress returns from Easter Vacation--maybe somebody could even show the political savvy to try to get something done by the time millions more take to the streets.
On the one hand, this is tailor-made for the President: he's been on the "soft" side of the issue for six years, but he's also shown to be pretty adept at "stealing" his opponents position when it serves him (remember the Department of Homeland Security?). He could easily come out and embrace the fence conditional upon a naturalization bill, and steal the middle ground of this debate right out from under everybody. Then he could call for a high-level "summit" of Congressional Leadership to get a working bill going before summer. Piece of cake.
Unfortunately, I think the White House has either completely lost its political compass (see "Katrina" and "Dubai"), or it has chosen to try to get Congress to do its job. Which, on the one hand, might be really smart--if someone in Congress can get this problem solved now, President Bush could embrace the idea (good for his numbers) and embrace the problem-solver (and annoint his heir-apparent).
Who are the likely candidates?
Bill Frist--who has said the Senate Majority Leader's Post is the worst place run for President from; well, Senator, how about let's stop being a Senator for a while and try being a leader?
John McCain--last chance; get this wrong, and not only will much of the "base" not vote for you in the primaries, but, if you do get the nomination, they will not come to work for you in the general
Jon Kyl--good same-state counterbalance to the ubiquitous McCain, and speaks pretty clearly on the issue
John Cornyn--has held state-wide office in a big border state, and as AG of TX, would have dealt with a lot of these issues
Or how about some dark horses.
J.C.Watts--why not? As an outsider to this debate he could have an extraordinary clarity of opinion
Colin Powell--his own parents were immigrants (Jamaica, if I'm not mistaken), and he still enjoys near-universal respect and approval
And there are probably a dozen others who could make this debate clearer, and actually get something useful done.
But there just aren't that many moments for people to step away from the pack. And since the White House has kinda botched a couple lately, SOMEBODY has got to step up and make it happen.
And, by the way, the list of Democrats who could vault overnight to national prominence by solving this issue is even longer than the GOP list. God help us all if we have to rely on them to solve this (luckily they show very little interest).