Immigration Compromise Faces New Opposition Proposal Stays Alive, But Foes Lie in Wait
By Jonathan Weisman Washington Post May 22, 2007
The Senate voted last night to move forward on an overhaul of immigration laws, but even proponents of the delicate compromise proposal conceded that the furor over the deal was surpassing their expectations and endangering the plan.
The 69 to 23 vote masked deep troubles from the right flank of the Senate, as well as from the left. Opponents of even conducting a debate on the measure included some unexpected voices, such as freshman Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Bernard Sanders, an independent liberal from Vermont. Several conservatives — and some liberals — made it clear that they cast a vote to proceed only in order to fundamentally change the proposed legislation in the coming days
Bill Quick noticed this:
Hannity was telling some caller to his talker today that his contacts in Washington were â€?astoundedâ€? and â€?shockedâ€? by the firestorm backlash theyâ€™re getting over the supposedly â€?done dealâ€? immigration bill. Hannity said even Harry Kari Reed was suddenly feeling nervous.
I wondered: Could this possibly be true? And if it is, how unbelievably out of touch with America are those legislators for life who are purported to be â€?representingâ€? us?
One of his commenters attributed it to
Isolation. With an 11-months-a-year Congress, they spend all their time in D.C. The whole time theyâ€™re there, they get their news from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the four TV networks. And the only people they talk to are their staffers, other congress-critters, bureaucrats, and lobbyists.
Back before air conditioning, Congress used to take August (and most of July) off. Everybody went back to their districts, and had to live with (and answer to) their constituents for a month or so. Now they only get home for fund-raising, which by its nature limits their contacts to people who already agree with them.
And thereâ€™s another factor. Today nearly all Senators and many House members can be described as â€?very wealthy.â€? The high percentage of rich people (some very rich) is a significant change from 50 years ago. When â€?very wealthyâ€? people return home, itâ€™s to the country clubs and gated communities. Even in the red states, the circles Congresspeople move in tend to be internationalist and fuzzy-liberal. And the only â€?average citizensâ€? theyâ€™re likely to encounter are the illegal aliens who do the lawn mowing.
Heres's what Ted Kennedy said in the Washington Post story
"Our plan is a compromise. It involved give-and-take in the best traditions of the United States Senate. For each of us who crafted it, there are elements that we strongly support and elements we believe could be improved. No one believes this is a perfect bill," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.), the deal's chief Democratic architect. "The world is watching to see how we respond to the current crisis. Let's not disappoint them."
In fact the tendency of (generally Republican) Senators to roll over for the other party in the name of collegiality isn't one of the "best traditions of the United States Senate. " It's one of the worst. Not for the first time, it's important to remember this story:
â€?IN AMERICA, WE have a two-party system," a Republican congressional staffer is supposed to have told a visiting group of Russian legislators some years ago.
"There is the stupid party. And there is the evil party. I am proud to be a member of the stupid party."
He added: "Periodically, the two parties get together and do something that is both stupid and evil. This is calledâ€”bipartisanship."