Republicans inside the Beltway were all bent out of shape this week over the fact that President Obama, in his speech on immigration earlier this week, called them out over their absurd gamesmanship on the issue:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: So, here’s the point. I want everybody to listen carefully to this. We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. All the stuff they asked for, we’ve done. But even though we’ve answered these concerns, I’ve got to say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time.
You know, they said we needed to triple the Border Patrol. Or now they’re going to say we need to quadruple the Border Patrol. Or they’ll want a higher fence. Maybe they’ll need a moat. (Laughter.) Maybe they want alligators in the moat. (Laughter.) They’ll never be satisfied. And I understand that. That’s politics.
This caused quite the huff among Republicans, who have been nothing if not crassly and openly partisan in their handling of immigration issues during Obama's tenure, abandoning all the pretense of bipartisanship they had adopted during the Bush years (see especially John McCain in this regard). And it gave an excuse for the last of the "bipartisan" crowd, Sen. Richard Lugar, to join the Tea Party element in opposing the DREAM Act:
In a statement, Lugar spokesman Mark Helmke blamed Democrats for turning immigration into a partisan issue.
"President Obama's appearance in Texas framed immigration as a divisive election issue instead of attempting a legitimate debate on comprehensive reform," wrote Helmke. "Ridiculing Republicans was clearly a partisan push that effectively stops a productive discussion about comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act before the 2012 election."
Actually, the shoe is on the other foot: As long as Lugar's fellow Republicans insist on calling the DREAM Act "amnesty for illegals" and denouncing any effort to do something that is so clearly a no-brainer in the Right Thing To Do Department, then it's clear Obama can count on having a productive discussion about these issues from Republicans for the foreseeable future -- that is, until at least sometime after the 2012 elections.
Even more noteworthy is that Obama wasn't really saying anything controversial -- he was pointing out the cold reality on the ground.
There was a remarkable exchange in this regard the other morning on Fox News, when Alisyn Camerota -- filling in Megyn Kelly on America Live -- had a following conversation with reliable RightWingabot Monica Crowley on the subject. And Camerota (uncharacteristically for most Fox hosts) wanted to know exactly how Republicans could respond to Obama's salient points here.
And Crowley sputtered. At first she tried to deflect the answer into the familiar ground of "he's talking up immigration to help his re-election chances," but Camerota kept pushing -- and Crowley pretty much came up blank, sputtering an incoherent garble of whatever fake "facts" she could grasp out of the thin air:
CAMEROTA: OK, so to his point: More deportations, more boots on the ground, reinforcing the fence, and they're never satisfied. What do Republicans want?
CROWLEY: Well, I'm sure that that bit of sarcasm there with that bit about the moat with the alligators will go a long way to getting Republican support for whatever he wants to do. He's looking at his poll numbers, first and foremost, because, as I said, there's no way the the DREAM Act or any comprehensive immigration reform is gonna make it through, certainly before 2012. And what's happening, when he's looking at his core constituency, he's seeing a pretty significant dropoff among Hispanic voters. He won the Hispanic vote by two thirds in 2008. It is now down among Hispanics, his support is down to low to mid-50s, Ali, so what he's seeing is a need to shore up that core constituency, because he cannot win re-election without it.
CAMEROTA: OK, but to his point -- what more do Republicans want than what he has done?
CROWLEY: The ... [sigh] ... He deserves credit for what he has done so far. However, that does not solve the problem. The chaos on the border has actually gotten worse over the last many years than better. And so if you look and you talk to law-enforcement officials, where they're on the front lines, you talk to folks who are living on the front lines in Arizona and New Mexico and Texas -- they will tell you that the violence spillover -- 35,000 people have been killed in recent years over the border -- that violence spillover -- illegals coming across the border still at an unprecedented rate -- a lot needs to be done.
In reality, of course, there has been a sharp decline in border crossings in recent years, particularly as the U.S. economy his spiraled downward in a recession and unemployment has skyrocketed. But then, reality has never stopped people like Crowley from misreporting fake "facts" on Fox. It's a feature, not a bug.
Look, we'll never, NEVER be able to have an honest conversation with right-wingers about immigration, because they refuse to argue it honestly. Their recent tactic has been to demand that "first we secure the border, then we can talk reform." And then when all their demands are met, they just keep changing the goalposts. And then when they get called out on that, they claim we're just being unfair and uncivil.
Screw that. It's time to figure out how to move on without them.