Friday, January 20, 2006

The GOP Does Battle...

...with the GOP.

After five years of giving the Emperor in Chief nearly everything he has asked for, the heretofor solid Republican bloc is beginning to show some cracks, and those fissures appear to be quite deep. That Congressional Republicans might feel that absolute fealty to Bush is no longer necessary or perhaps even unwise is not surprising. After all, Mr. Bush is not running for re-election this year, and many of them are. Further, the Grand Old Party has been rocked by scandals that reach from the White House (the Plame Affair, the NSA illegal spying on Americans) to Congress (Abramoff), and many in Congress want desparately to shift the attention to something else, anything else.

Even so, the topic du jour is hardly one I had expected: immigration reform. The LA Times has an article about what the Republican National Committee has on its agenda.

A deep split within the Republican Party over immigration policy is now reaching into the highest levels of the GOP machinery, as members of the Republican National Committee, which typically operates in lock step with the White House, are poised to vote today on a resolution repudiating President Bush's call for a guest-worker program.

A member of the committee, which acts as a national steering panel for the party, gathered enough signatures to force the vote, setting up a highly unusual public debate over an issue on which Bush has set a clear direction.

Bush has proposed letting workers from abroad, as well as some of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., legally take jobs in the United States as temporary workers. But the resolution before the party leadership today argues that a guest-worker program would "only result in more illegal immigration and increased crime in our country."

Republican strategists had hoped to avoid this week's confrontation, scrambling late Wednesday and Thursday to draft an alternative resolution that embraces a guest-worker program while calling for tougher border security to deter illegal immigration.

The disagreement illustrates Bush's challenge in trying to bridge GOP divisions about how to resolve the growing border crisis without alienating Latino voters by appearing to be anti-immigrant.

The issue has exposed tensions between crucial components of the GOP base.

Business interests, including agriculture and manufacturing firms, donate millions of dollars to Republican candidates and rely on immigrant labor; they want a guest-worker plan. So do some Republican senators.

Cultural conservatives oppose any guest-worker program, as does the House leadership. Many charge that illegal workers are stealing American jobs and flouting the law.

...Pullen's resolution calls on Congress and the president to enact laws restricting illegal immigration and to withhold federal funds from any state or local government that acts as a "sanctuary" for illegal immigrants by failing to fully cooperate with immigration authorities. Pullen said the resolution "pretty much reflects where the American public is, which is they want the border secured and they want illegal immigration ended. And they don't want amnesty provided to those in the country now."
[Emphasis added]

What is so delicious about this split is the cynicism and racist hypocrisy underlying both sides of the internal debate. Big business wants a cheap labor force and really doesn't care if that labor force is here legally or not. The cultural conservatives don't like the thought of more brown people swarming over the border. One side wants to build a wall, the other wants access to workers who are vulnerable and will therefor work cheaply under horrendous conditions.

It appears that the marriage of convenience between the competing interests is on the rocks. The GOP is beginning to look like the Democrats in elections past.


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