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A week or so ago, President Obama held a highly publicized White House “dialogue” about immigration. Its real purpose was to find a new strategy for amnesty legislation, which is to say, it was about his 2012 election campaign.
The “new strategy” is in truth a repackaging of the old strategy, but you would not know that from the news commentaries following the event. The participants in the White House meeting were the usual suspects – businesses that employ illegal aliens, sanctuary-city mayors from San Antonio and Atlanta, open-borders activists from the National Council of La Raza, a sprinkling of academics, Hollywood stars and a token number of Republicans.
The latest word is that Obama will make a major speech next week to launch the new amnesty campaign. Evidently, he plans to spend the political capital earned by the Navy SEALs’ killing of Osama bin Laden to wage this battle. Unless the leader of Navy SEAL Team Six is miraculously a child of illegal-alien parents, I doubt he can make any connection between the two topics.
What is their new strategy for amnesty legislation? Obama and the amnesty lobby have decided to sell amnesty as good for the economy. That will be about as easy as selling voodoo dolls at the Vatican, but what do they have to lose? The old arguments have all failed, and the House is now controlled by conservative Republicans. The so-called humanitarian arguments used to promote the “Dream Act” failed, and no one really believes that the border is secure.
So, amnesty proponents need a new theme, a new bumper sticker slogan, one that appeals to Republicans, and that will be the economy. We will be asked to believe that illegal aliens do not take jobs away from Americans; they create jobs. Got that?
But let’s be clear about what is really going on. No one actually believes that amnesty will be good for the economy, but that is not important. To sell amnesty legislation to Congress, the amnesty lobby only needs an argument some Republicans can pretend to believe when they explain their vote to their local Rotary and Elks clubs.
The real argument being used to stampede Republican support for new amnesty legislation is crassly political: If Republicans don’t hop on board the amnesty train, they will lose the Hispanic vote for a generation or longer. This argument does not hold water, but when put forward by Republican pundits and party leaders, it can mislead and confuse many people.
Thus, this “new strategy” for amnesty legislation will orchestrate a two-level campaign: The “good for the economy” arguments will be employed on the public level while the “good for the Party” arguments will be whispered in Republican cloak rooms.
Of course, there are some serious pitfalls in this strategy on both the public level and the subterranean. If amnesty is such a good thing for the Republican Party, why should Democrats favor it? The answer we will hear is that Democrats should support amnesty because it is good public policy, and Republicans must support it to prove they are not racists.
So, for this strategy to succeed, the race card must be used insistently against opponents. They must be painted into a corner so that a vote for amnesty becomes the only way to rescue the Republican Party from “disaster at the polls.” That argument by slander will not work with most Republicans, but it has neutralized some Republican leaders who think the issue is not important enough to risk an “electoral backlash.”
The other pitfall in this new strategy is that the argument for amnesty as a good thing for our ailing economy does not pass the smell test when we are struggling with 9 percent official unemployment. Yet, we cannot be too complacent in responding to this new campaign. A White House team that can say with a straight face that Osama bin Laden was brought to justice without the help of information gained through waterboarding can say anything. Maybe there is a connection here after all: Chutzpah with a capital “C.”