Republicans — who are generally well trained in the art of repeating talking points — just don’t know what to say about immigration reform.
Last week, Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) came out for a “path to citizenship” and seemed to come out for the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, which passed with 68 votes last month. A few hours later, a Walker aide made it clear that the governor wasn’t endorsing the Senate bill, and he wasn’t opposing it either.
Walker then decided to move on signing a bill that included something all small-government Republicans agree on: state-mandated ultrasounds.
As a serious frontrunner for the 2016 GOP nomination (he really is… I know it’s hard to believe, but he is), Walker is keenly aware that the billionaires and millionaires who would have to fund his campaign all support immigration reform now — not in 2015 when the presidential campaign has already begun and the GOP can’t risk the kind of comic YouTube-able xenophobia that’s bound to come out of certain House members’ mouths during the debate.
But Walker also knows that the populist wing of his party — who see immigrants as “them”; lazy un-Americans who will suck off the government teat so hard that they’ll ingest “my Medicare!” — may soon rise up and destroy reform because it can even get a vote in the House, as they did in 2007. That’s what populist candidates for the 2016 GOP nomination, senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), are counting on.
You may remember that last week, unserious frontrunner for Fox News’ Employee of the Year Sarah Palin threatened to help divide the GOP over “amnesty” in the name of Ronald Reagan — the one president who signed a bill that granted “amnesty.”
And we know that is the kind of argument that works in today’s GOP because it’s clearer and clearer that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) doesn’t have the votes or the courage to pass a reform bill that could get through the Senate.
That’s why the last Republican president who tried to grant undocumented immigrants citizenship has decided it’s time to weigh in.
Yes, America’s least popular ex-president, George W. Bush, did an interview with ABC’s This Week and is holding an immigration event at his presidential center on Wednesday, the exact day House Republicans begin to consider immigration reform.
It’s unclear whether Bush will endorse the Senate bill, which is in many ways similar to the 2007 legislation he backed, but the ex-president has been consistently supportive of reform for the “right reason,” he claims.
“The right reason is it’s important to reform a broken system. I’m not sure a right reason is that in so doing we win votes,” Bush said, in May. “I mean, when you do the right thing, I think you win votes, as opposed to doing something that’s the right thing to win votes. Maybe there’s no difference there. It seems like there is to me, though.”
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