Once the Democrats decide what to do about the Michigan and Florida kerfuffle, who wins the Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico primaries, how the superdelegates weigh in and whether or not the issue goes to a brokered convention, they will have a nominee.
In other words, the race has turned into a good political brawl, one we richly deserve. How else do you see the content of character, agility on their feet, the ability to stare down bullies and even what handlers do in the background? How else do we see a person’s idealism morph into toughness?
Take, for instance, the Barack Obama adviser telling the Canadian consul not to take the NAFTA criticism all that seriously. Or the operative who called Hillary Rodham Clinton a “monster.”
Both offenders are now gone.
Why? Because they stand to sabotage the Obama campaign.
But what could or should John McCain do about the Senate Republicans who are sabotaging his campaign?
Like a surreal page straight from the Joan Miro school of public policy, 15 bills were introduced at the same time McCain was meeting with President Bush to get his endorsement. The president and McCain were having hot dogs for lunch, while their Senate “allies” were pumping out pure baloney.
The bills reintroduce past failed measures to criminalize unauthorized immigrants. The senators in their bills include proposals to make English the official language, complete a 700-mile fence along the southern border with Mexico, discourage states from issuing driver’s licenses to unauthorized migrants and disallow Mexican-government IDs used to open bank accounts — and they want to facilitate the National Guard and local law officers to participate in federal immigration-law enforcement.
The senators seem more intent on catching McCain than they are in snatching unauthorized people. They seem more worried their tough-guy image could shrink them into looking like Mr. Peepers again, as did the 2006 mid-term elections. They wanna get buff.
McCain, for his part, has already backtracked on his earlier enlightened immigration-reform bill, co-sponsored with Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy. He now stands for a brawny “secure our borders” position. Yet, who doesn’t?
We just have to remember what happened in 2006 after a draconian bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., passed in the House but not in the Senate. In response, 1 million people in all the major cities took to the streets. Public opinion reached 75 percent in favor of a path to legalization for immigrants.
Later that year, 70 percent of Latino voters sided with Democrats in the mid-term elections. In 2000, they had sided with Bush by 35 percent and in 2004 by 40 percent.
If Republican-led, thinly disguised xenophobia continues into this year, the GOP candidate may be lucky to get the 21 percent that Bob Dole drew in 1996. I suggest the bills introduced in the Senate should be lumped together and go by the name “The End of the Republican Party Because It Does Not, Will Not Mature Act.” Antics like those by the 11 senators are the kind that led to the defeat of some of the Sensenbrenner bill’s staunchest supporters, among others, in the 2006 mid-term elections.
The senators’ ploy is perhaps the greatest expression of disrespect and disdain for expanding the Republican Party, perhaps ever. Party advisers Leslie Sanchez (“Los Republicanos”) and Michael Gerson (“Heroic Conservatism”) in their books have warned Republicans to stop acting like such dopes.
But they didn’t and don’t listen. They seem to have forgotten they went down to defeat in 2006 and lost the House and Senate leaderships because of the Iraq war and their immigration-reform failures. Now add the economy to the list.
This time next year we just may be wondering who shot the sheriff. Why wasn’t McCain able to bring law and order and common sense to the Republican Party? Why did Republicans implode as a national party?
(Jose de la Isla, author of “The Rise of Hispanic Political Power,” writes a weekly commentary for Hispanic Link News Service. E-mail joseisla3(at)yahoo.com.)