Lessons From The Betrayal Of J. D. Hayworth
August 26, 2010, 05:00 AM
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A number of immigration patriots won on Tuesday`s primaries—bright spots included the victories of immigration patriots Jesse Kelly over McCain-backed Jonathan Paton in Arizona; Sandy Adams over pro-amnesty establishment favorite Craig Miller in Florida; and Joel Miller over Lisa Murkowski in Alaska.

But there is no getting around the fact that Senator John McCain`s 24 percentage point trouncing of J. D. Hayworth in the Arizona GOP primary is a huge disappointment.

But a close inspection of this race reveals a few silver linings—as well as insights as to how the patriotic immigration reform movement should view the "Conservative Movement" and the Republican Party.

First and foremost, we cannot blame J. D. Hayworth or his campaign for this failure.

J. D. is by no means a perfect candidate. He had some Abramoff issues. He appeared in an infomercial to help people get free money from the government.

Nor did his campaign and record satisfy purist immigration patriots. He made a silly $PLC-like attack on one of McCain`s supporters for appearing on a politically incorrect program. Hayworth`s Congressional record had some serious blemishes when it came to importing foreign workers.

And I`m sure his campaign made many other mistakes as well.

But so what? The fact of the matter is that Hayworth was the only person with enough courage to run. If he was such a bad candidate—which I don`t think he was—then someone else of some greater stature should have stepped up to the plate.

Moreover, whatever Hayworth`s personal or political flaws may be, they pale in comparison to John McCain. The simple fact that J. D. Hayworth was one of the most vocal opponents of illegal immigration during his tenure in Congress, while John McCain was one of the most vocal supporters of amnesty in and of itself, should have been enough for the entire conservative movement and any Republicans who claim to oppose amnesty and hate "RINOs" support him without hesitation.

But virtually no-one came to his aid. The only sitting congressman to endorse  J. D. Hayworth was Dana Rohrabacher. Within the state, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and SB 1070 author Sen. Russell Pearce bravely stood by Hayworth. But everyone else stayed out or even endorsed McCain out of fear of retribution.

Outside of patriotic immigration reform organizations such as Team America, and Bill Gheen`s ALIPAC (to whom we give credit when credit is due), and some of the more "fringe" conservative outfits such as Gun Owners of America, no Beltway groups endorsed him.

Mark Levin and Michelle Malkin supported J.D., but few other prominent conservative personalities supported him. This is despite Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, etc. repeatedly stating how important it is for us to support "true" conservatives over liberal Republicans.

Without any major conservative help, the fact that Hayworth raised 3 million dollars was an accomplishment. But that cannot fight McCain`s $20+ million.

Not only did most conservatives fail support Hayworth, many went to bat for John McCain.

The NRA, Arizona Right to Life and, (in an unusual but all-too-typical move), National Review, all endorsed him.

Most effectively for McCain, the two most significant people for the Arizona Republican base, Sarah Palin and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (benefitting, arguably undeservedly, from signing SB 1070) actively campaigned for him.

Nevertheless, despite all these setbacks, Hayworth came within striking distance. On April 16, as the border violence increased and the state debated SB 1070, a Rasmussen Poll found him trailing McCain by just five percentage points.

This was the point at which the conservative movement, and all the other people who used the excuse that Hayworth wasn`t worth supporting because he was destined to lose, had no reason not to support him.

Three days after the Rasmussen poll, McCain and John Kyl introduced a "10 Point Border Security Plan" that included a fence and troops on the border.

As Arizona became the center of a national debate over immigration with over three quarters of Republicans in the state supporting SB 1070, Hayworth ratings should have soared. Hayworth had lobbied for the bill from the beginning. He had the support of its author Russell Pearce.

Yet, amazingly, McCain managed to use SB 1070 and the support of Jan Brewer to turn himself into a champion of border security.

McCain went on to stand up vocally to Obama on immigration, and to run a tough ad walking along the border with popular border town Sheriff Paul Babeu and demanding we "complete the danged fence."

The ad concludes with Babeu saying: "Senator, you`re one of us."

The Hayworth campaign responded with a brilliant ad splicing McCain`s tough statements about immigration with contradictory statements supporting amnesty.

But this was not enough to counter Brewer and all of McCain`s money. By June, McCain was up over 20 percent.

Hayworth supporters became discouraged and his campaign fizzled.

The hardcore Open Borders Lobby is doing the usual bait-and-switch tactic, where pro-amnesty politicians pretend to support the Border Patrol during the election, and then try to turn their ability to trick the voters into proof that the public supports amnesty.

According to Rudy Lopez [Email him] of the Campaign for Community Change

"Elected officials should take note of Hayworth`s and other extremists` failures: Americans don`t want demagoguery; they want practical, lasting solutions. A campaign built on demonizing immigrants does not pay off electorally,"

But this lie is impossible to believe. After all, the whole point of McCain`s campaign was that he pretended to be tough (= "demonizing [illegal] immigrants").

In fact, of course, Democrats do not want to give McCain any credit, so the DNC is now saying,

"The complete takeover of the Republican Party by the Tea Party has included taking over the soul of a senator who was once the face of comprehensive immigration reform and who now would just build the `danged fence,`" [McCain shift on immigration, David Eldridge, Washington Times, August 24, 2010]

But, incredibly, conservatives are triumphantly trying the same spin. Richard Viguerie, one of the relatively principled DC conservatives, sent his e-mail list this message:

"The Senator owes his victory to the pressure he received from conservatives and Tea Partiers.

"To receive that support, he had to give up his maverick positions that have sometimes given aid and comfort to the liberals. I`m sure Senator McCain knows very well that he would not have won if he had continued his reputation as the Democrats` favorite Republican.

"McCain ran an aggressive, hard-hitting campaign against former Congressman J. D. Hayworth. If he had taken this same kind of principled conservative and `take no prisoners` campaign against Barack Obama in 2008, he`d now be in the second year of his presidency.

"The strength of the Tea Party cause is being felt in various ways: sometimes by pressuring incumbents into retirement; other times by beating an establishment Republican in a convention or primary; or, in Senator McCain`s case, by applying so much heat, they see the virtue of small government, constitutional conservatism.

"Conservatives and Tea Party activists look forward to welcoming Senator McCain and other lost conservatives back from their flirtations with big government."

[McCain beats Hayworth, Senator McCain, Richard Viguerie, Conservative HQ, August 25, 2010]

Maybe Viguerie is being tongue in cheek. But as it stands, every single one of his statement is wrong:

  • McCain never received Tea Party support. Hayworth`s staff told me that virtually the entire Tea Party crowd in the State was with them, while it was the established Conservative Movement groups that opposed JD. The real lesson: there is a gulf between Establishment conservatives and the Tea Parties—and the Tea Parties, without some national backing, cannot (yet) topple Establishment Republicans.
  • The only way for the Tea Parties to pressure McCain into pretending to be a conservative was to support J. D. Hayworth. Obviously if he hadn`t been running, McCain would have had no reason for his charade.
  • How can lying about your liberal record and smearing a genuine conservative be considered a "principled conservative" campaign?
  • By believing John McCain has converted back to conservatism during the election, the voters sent McCain and others like him, the message that voters have short memories and they can easily turn their back on them. It is unlikely that McCain will run for another term. So he has even more reason to ignore his constituents.

Viguerie`s prediction would be slightly more believable had McCain not made the exact same flip-flop less than two years earlier—when he began his "Enforcement First" rhetoric after amnesty failed in 2007.

But as soon as McCain won the Republican nomination, he crawled back to La Raza to pander:

"[Obama] suggested…that I turned my back on comprehensive reform out of political necessity. I feel I must, as they say, correct the record. At a moment of great difficulty in my campaign, when my critics said it would be political suicide for me to do so, I helped author with Senator Kennedy comprehensive immigration reform, and fought for its passage…I did so not just because I believed it was the right thing to do for Hispanic Americans. It was the right thing to do for all Americans… I do ask for your trust that when I say, I remain committed to fair, practical and comprehensive immigration reform, I mean it. I think I have earned that trust."

[The McCain Obama Immigration Wars, ABC News, July 14, 2008]

McCain went on to run Spanish language ads blaming Obama "`No` to the guest workers program; `no` to a path to citizenship." [In Spanish, McCain Criticizes Obama on Immigration, by Jim Rutenburg, New York Times, September 15, 2008]

Moreover, McCain`s new-found opposition to amnesty in the 2010 Arizona primary race included these weasel words:

"Any measure designed to fix the broken immigration system must deal with the undocumented population, and as we all know, this is very difficult challenge that attracts a wide range of diverse views and opinions. We need a practical solution for dealing with undocumented immigrants currently living and working in our country and that solution must be carried out in a manner that fosters the social, economic, and security interest of the United States."

"Undocumented"?

And:

"McCain believes an essential component of any comprehensive reform to America`s immigration policy must include the implementation of temporary worker programs that reflect the labor needs of Arizona and the United States." [Protecting Our Borders and Our Homeland, McCain for Senate]

So don`t worry! When John McCain starts pandering once again, he will be able to say, as he did in his disastrous Presidential campaign, that he never turned his "back on comprehensive reform out of political necessity."

I don`t want to be too downbeat. There is one big silver lining to this campaign: J. D. Hayworth may have defeated amnesty.

McCain and Lindsey Graham were the go-to Republicans for "comprehensive immigration reform." McCain knew not to touch it until after his election. which left Graham as the point man.

Yet in April, Graham publicly backed off his collaboration. Open Borders lobby leader Frank Sharry explained why,

"Here`s my theory: Senator Graham wanted to do immigration reform, but it became clear this spring that his friend, Senator John McCain, was in a fight for his political life. In a state where the Republican Party has become consumed by nativism, McCain is in a close primary battle against anti-immigrant fire-breather J.D. Hayworth. With the primary scheduled for late August, Graham does not want to subject his friend to a `tough vote` this summer.

"So he decided to blame the President, slow walk the immigration bill, and gear up on climate change. Now that the `perfect crime` isn`t working out the way he wanted, Graham is threatening to take his marbles and go home – refusing to work with Democrats on either issue. Meanwhile, Senators McCain and Kyl, both of whom fought for comprehensive immigration reform in the past, are threatening to filibuster a bill if it is brought forward.

"They, too, seem determined to head off an immigration reform debate, even though their state is ground zero for the issue. Senator McCain went so far as to embrace the Arizona state law that is eerily similar to a 2005 Congressional bill he once denounced as `anti-Hispanic.`"

[Lindsey Graham and the real `Cynical Political Ploy`, Frank Sharry, Huffington Post, April 26, 2010]

I usually disagree with Sharry. But here he is spot on.

In March, Lindsey Graham had written (= signed) a Washington Post Op-Ed with New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer promoting the latest drive for "comprehensive immigration reform". [The right way to mend immigration, by Charles E. Schumer and Lindsey O. Graham, March 19, 2010]

When McCain appeared to be in trouble in April, Graham dropped out. Schumer ended up releasing an outline of a bill with Harry Reid and Robert Menendez, but he couldn`t find a single Republican. By July, Graham was calling for the abolishing birthright citizenship.

Despite this sugar coating, the pill of another six years of John McCain is very tough to swallow.

But rather than get discouraged, we should learn a few lessons to help us in the future.

  • Never Trust the Establishment Conservative Movement: This cannot be said enough. They might say they support immigration control when it helps them raise money. But they don`t mean it. We should always encourage them to do the right thing—but for patriotic immigration reformers, it is important to support PACs and institutions outside of the conservative movement.
  • Do not Trust Sarah Palin or Jan Brewer: None of these women did anything good on immigration before SB 1070. They are both happy to be the respective queens of the Tea Party Movement and the Anti-Amnesty Movement. But their commitment is thin.
  • Money in Politics is Our Enemy: Conservatives somehow think that campaign finance reform will somehow destroy conservatism. Regardless of the other pros and cons of the policy, we need to remember corporations and the wealthy are almost always on the wrong side of the immigration question.
  • "Enforcement" cannot be the litmus test: McCain actually admitted in the campaign that he wanted more "guest workers", and he did not completely run away from amnesty. What he essentially did was push "enforcement first." It would have been harder for him to do this 180 if the issues of legal immigration and opposition to any sort of legalization were seen (correctly) to be as important as border security.
  • Voters have short memories: This is really the toughest problem to fix. No matter what McCain and his MSM allies say, I still find it really hard to believe that anyone in Arizona who even read the newspaper twice a year wouldn`t remember him as the Number One promoter of amnesty. They all oppose amnesty and rate it as a top issue. I still cannot understand why they would vote for McCain. My only guess is that the general lull in immigration discussion from the General election in 2008 through SB 1070 was enough to make people forget. We need to continue to pound this issue, and the politicians, even when it is not in the public debate.

McCain is just one out of 100 senators. We should not fret any more about having him for another six years. He has a notoriously bad temper—who knows, maybe he will continue to be angry at Hispanics. He`s a "maverick", isn`t he?

Instead, the cause of patriotic immigration reform depends on electing the scores of real immigration patriots up for election in 2010.

"Washington Watcher" [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.