RAHM EMANUEL-- THE TOM TANCREDO OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY
If he had a finger...
Yesterday's L.A. Times carries another example of how electing low life political hacks-- rather than statesmen-- to Congress insures that difficult, thorny problems don't really get tackled in a serious way. The story is subtitled Some think the party can toughen its image on illegal immigration without straying from traditional positions. That would be the penultimate congressional non-statesman, and hack without parallel, Rahm Emanuel (D-IL).
After Republican xenophobes were beaten in elections everywhere last week, it was widely accepted that voters were not going to decide elections based on demagoguery over immigration and that what people actually want are well thought out, comprehensive reforms. Emanuel, in charge of Democratic congressional messaging has his little shoppe of horrors busy rewriting history.
Top Democratic elected officials and strategists are engaged in an internal debate over toughening the party's image on illegal immigration, with some worried that Democrats' relatively welcoming stance makes them vulnerable to GOP attacks in the 2008 election.
Advocates of such a change cite local and state election results last week in Virginia and New York, where Democrats used sharper language and get-tough proposals to stave off Republican efforts to paint the party as weak on the issue.
In Virginia, for instance, where Democrats took control of the state Senate, one high- profile victory came in the Washington suburbs, where the winner distributed mailings in the campaign's closing days proclaiming his opposition to in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants.
The party's calibration could also be seen in New York, where a number of Democrats won local elections in part by opposing a plan by Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, and in the presidential campaign, in which party front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has struggled to explain whether she supports the Spitzer plan or not.
In Congress, a group of conservative Democrats, led by freshman Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina, introduced legislation last week calling for more Border Patrol agents, heightened surveillance and additional requirements that employers verify the legal status of workers.
"Top Democratic elected officials and strategists" would refer to old school collaborationist Democratic hacks Emanuel and Steny Hoyer. And in case you're not a regular DWT reader, let me emphasize that "freshman Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina" in a dull and reactionary Emanuel puppet acting on his master's behalf.
The Emanuel (Shuler)/Tancredo approach "does not include measures to create a path to citizenship for millions of illegal workers, measures that recently had been supported by Democrats nationally." Emanuel has been pushing his "move right on immigration" stance to Democratic candidates. According to a post by Matt Stoller today at OpenLeft, Larry Kissell has already bitten and I've been hearing similar mumblings from other candidates who take Emanuel-- and the money and Inside the Beltway organizations he controls-- seriously. The Latino members of the Democratic caucus... fuming-- and rightfully so.
The internal debate has grown emotional in recent days, boiling over on Friday during a tense encounter on the House floor between Rep. Joe Baca (D-Rialto), chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.).
The caucus was upset because some House Democrats had backed a Republican measure protecting employers that impose certain English-only rules-- the latest in what Baca called a series of frustrations with the party leadership's approach to immigration.
"We're tired of people trying to scapegoat the immigrants or Hispanics as a platform," Baca said. "Republicans have done it, and Democrats have followed... because they're afraid they're going to lose their elections. But we got elected to represent all communities, not to vote based on whether we're going to get reelected."
Last year Emanuel misinterpreted public sentiment against Bush's Iraq war and demanded, as chairman of the DCCC, that Democratic candidates turn down the rhetoric on the war. Fortunately many current Congressmembers-- like Bruce Braley (IA), John Hall (NY), Patrick Murphy (PA), Joe Sestak (PA), Jerry McNerney (CA)-- ignored his idiotic and tone deaf advice and didn't suffer the same ignominious defeat the way Democrats who listened to him-- such as Lois Murphy (PA), Ken Lucas, Tammy Duckworth and Christine Jennings (FL)-- did. A hack strategist without any depth of political understanding or vision for-- or interest in-- long-term party building, Emanuel has decided to try to persuade his party to sacrifice the tremendous success they've been having with the long-term goal of solidifying the bluer and bluer Latino base.
The issue has proved vexing for Republicans as well, with most of the party's conservative base pushing for measures to strengthen the border. President Bush, meanwhile, backed the Senate bill, and his former political advisor Karl Rove [a much smarter and more effective-- if equally ruthless-- strategist than Emanuel] has long supported a moderate stance on immigration as part of a strategy to lure Latino voters to the GOP.
Many Republicans believe the party's attempts last year to paint Democrats as weak on illegal immigration-- including television ads that some critics saw as playing on ethnic stereotypes-- damaged the GOP's image among Latino voters and helped put Democrats in control of Congress.
But Emanuel and his puppets are busy making up for that and negating Democratic headway with this fastest of all voting blocs in America. I wonder if he consulted his new ally, Tom Tancredo, on his brand spanking new advertisement, one that might make someone think Bush's fear tactics have been positively moderate: