Wednesday, April 12, 2006

They Got Played

It looks like the Republicans are finding out that hardball politics can sometimes come back to bite you in the ass.

In the wake of this week’s massive demonstrations, many House Republicans are worried that a tough anti-illegal-immigration bill they thought would please their political base has earned them little benefit while becoming a lightning rod for the fast-growing national movement for immigrant rights.

House Republicans rushed through legislation just before Christmas that would build hundreds of miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, require that businesses verify the legality of all employees’ status through a national database, fortify border patrols, and declare illegal immigrants and those who help them to be felons. After more lenient legislation failed in the Senate last week, the House-passed version burst into the public consciousness this week, as hundreds of thousands of protesters across the country turned out to denounce the bill.

Of course, when it blew up in their face, who did they blame? Take a wild guess.

Yesterday, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) issued a joint statement seeking to deflect blame for the harshest provisions of the House bill toward the Democrats, who they said showed a lack of compassion.

Seeing as how the Democrats haven’t had a majority in the House since 1995 and they’ve been unable to even get extra pepperoni on a pizza order without the consent of the Republicans, suddenly turning around and being blamed for this disaster is more than a little disingenuous. “Look what you made me do!” doesn’t cut it.

I have my doubts as to whether the Democrats in the House were clever enough or blessed with the foresight to see that a bill that passed with little notice in Decemeber would suddenly play into their hands the following April. It’s more likely, as the article notes, that they went along with it for the usual reasons; to provide themselves with political cover from attacks from the right wing. No matter; in this case it looks like the Republicans got suckered into this corner by their own devices, and blaming the Democrats for not stopping them is laughable.