Ruben Navarrette, the conservative Latino columnist who has been struggling for some time with the nature of the beast with which he finds himself in bed, was pondering the other day how -- after 71 percent of the Latino vote in the USA went for Barack Obama and other Democrats -- Republicans might possibly turn around their image problem with Hispanic voters. They are, after all the demographic time bomb that just went off in the GOP's face.
In his newest column, he appears to have hit upon the solution: Lie like a dog about Democrats, pretend that the raging nativism in the Republican Party doesn't exist, and in general invert reality by introducing a new viral right-wing Planet Bizarro meme -- to wit, that Democrats are the reason comprehensive immigration reform will run aground in the coming sessions of Congress.
That's right: In Navarrette's up-is-down recasting of the immigration universe, the Republican hysterics -- led by Rush Limbaugh and the Minuteman faction, who nowadays fancy themselves the Tea Party -- who were responsible for shooting down the 2007 immigration-reform bill, having declared it "dead on arrival" at the moment of its introduction -- have been airbrushed entirely out of the picture.
But in order to paint a picture of venal Democrats secretly conspiring to keep Latinos in thrall by only pretending to support comprehensive immigration reform, Navarette has to lie. A lot. And indeed he does:
When the media talk about the imminent arrival of comprehensive-immigration reform, this is what is generally assumed: Supposedly, the tuneup to our immigration system that President George W. Bush first talked about at the White House with Mexican President Vicente Fox in September 2001 is a done deal. We’re told: Democrats want it, and Republicans need it.
The assessment is half right. The Republicans need it. But the Democrats don’t really want it. They’ve never really wanted it. They only say they want it to trick Latinos and immigration-reform advocates into voting for them again and again.
Which is why reform probably won’t happen. We’ll have a debate but no solution will emerge from it.
So why don’t Democrats want comprehensive-immigration reform? For the same five reasons that Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid teamed up in 2006 and 2007 with the nativist wing of the Republican Party to kill bipartisan bills and, in 2010, helped scuttle the DREAM Act — a mini-legalization program for college students and military.
This is just blatantly, egregiously false -- and the nakedness of these assertions is a clear signal that Navarrette is not simply mistaken on the facts, but actively knows they are false and is lying.
For instance: Harry Reid was the sole sponsor of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007. He did not "team up" with nativist Republicans to kill his own bill: He fought them tooth and nail.
Likewise, Reid has always supported the DREAM Act, and was one of its sponsors in 2009 and 2010. When it was reintroduced during the 2010 lame-duck session, it was Harry Reid leading the charge. The measure failed because Democrats couldn't overcome the Republican-imposed and -supported filibuster.
Navarrette tells a number of other little lies too, including claiming that labor "opposes any stab at immigration reform that includes mention of guest workers" (false: unions are fine with guest-worker programs that ensure normal constitutional rights, guaranteed under the 14th Amendment, for such workers, including labor and civil rights) and that Democrats are afraid of pitting Latinos against labor unions (new flash for Navarrette: Labor unions loudly support comprehensive reform; indeed, one of the largest unions, SEIU, counts Latinos as a significant bloc of their base).
But the Big Lie all this is intended to promote is the notion that it's not Republican nativists -- you know, the folks who would rather die than allow anything remotely like Navarrette's own "common sense" proposal to craft a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already here (not to mention for new arrivals as well), which are immediately and loudly denounced as "amnesty" -- who are preventing immigration reform from moving forward. Nope. It's venal conniving Democrats.
Certainly it's true that there are parts of comprehensive reform that are hard for progressive reformers to swallow as well (including, most likely, penalties and fines for immigrants who are found to have violated existing law), especially for labor unions, many of whose members may also view the new arrivals with some anxiety. But that is not a serious obstacle, nor are those currents strong enough to inspire the kind of nefarious "keep them on the plantation" conspiracy that Navarrette has fabricated here.
What's most self-evident, though, is that Ruben Navarrette has not single shred of credibility remaining.