Conservative commentator Bill Kristol was on Laura Ingraham’s radio show yesterday (and it does seem like Ingraham’s show has become the gathering spot for the dwindling anti-immigrant movement), where he implored Marco Rubio to walk way from immigration reform negotiations because “Jeff Sessions is winning the debate.” Here’s a recap of what Kristol said:
I think it’s very important to push back — for us who are skeptical at least about this bill — to push back on the notion that we have to do something. I was with a bunch of Republicans and one of them made this case to me: ‘This is the moment we’ve got to act. Why? Why do we have to act? We’ve gone on with the current situation. It’s not perfect, God knows. But we’ve gone on with it for years and years. Right now, there’s no looming, I don’t believe, crisis or urgency.
And I much would prefer to take out time, pass discreet pieces of legislation, come back in 2015 when there are more Republicans in Congress, come back in 2017 when perhaps there is a Republican president and address these issues. I agree — the impulse that we have to act or that doing something foolish is better than doing nothing is always a mistake, and it’s particularly a mistake in immigration because once you legalize, you legalize. It’s done. This is not even like a tax increase, which you can reverse three years later.
[Rubio] should walk away from it. He should say, ‘I made a good-faith effort, but you know what, this is not a piece of legislation …’ You just got to judge on the substance, and I don’t believe honestly — I follow this one kind of as an outsider without much of a stake one way or the other. I care about it … but the public policy actual argument, the critics of the bill are winning over and over. I’m a better friend of Marco Rubio than Jeff Sessions. I know him much better, but Jeff Sessions is winning the debate. I just don’t think you can deny that.
Where to even start with this one.
1) Kristol thinks Jeff Sessions is winning the debate? Sessions, who submitted 49 amendments to the Gang of 8 Senate immigration bill and had only one of them adopted? Sessions, who at one point was left hanging 1-15 on an amendment vote to slash legal immigration? Sessions, who was on the losing side of a 13-5 vote last night to pass the bill out of markup? Sessions, who was just compared to George Wallace and admitted defeat today to what he called “a calculated, cold-blooded PR campaign managed to advance a piece of legislation.” That Jeff Sessions?
2) Kristol talks about how there’s no looming “crisis or urgency” to pass immigration reform in the way that only someone ignorant or uncaring of the fact that we deport 1,100 a day could put it. That’s 1,100 mothers, fathers, spouses, and family members like Erika Andiola’s mom, who was almost deported earlier this year. Kristol should watch the video Erika shot after ICE took away her mom and brother, and talk about how there’s no need for immigration reform.
3) As other commentators have noted, it’s wishful thinking for Kristol to believe that Republicans can kill immigration reform now and then pass a bill at a later date of their choosing. Political space for immigration reform was created after Mitt Romney’s disastrous 2012 presidential race, in which he lost the Hispanic vote by more than a 3-1 margin. Republicans have a chance this year to make inroads with minority voters—by supporting bipartisan legislation like immigration reform. If legislation is killed this year, Republicans will be blamed, period. They won’t have another opportunity of their choosing to pass a bill, and they will keep losing Latino and minority voters until even Texas turns blue, and the GOP ceases to be a national party altogether.
4) Bill Kristol is not exactly clairvoyant when it comes to political predictions. In fact, he’s kind of a laughingstock for how often he’s been wrong, and even Glenn Beck’s Blaze TV has wondered why “anyone still bothers to listen to him.” Here’s a short list of things Bill Kristol has been wrong about:
- That Hillary Clinton would prevail in the 2008 Democratic primaries and that Obama wouldn’t beat her in a single one.
- Believing that a war in Iraq “could have terrifically good effects throughout the Middle East” and believing in 2007 that “the war in Afghanistan has gone reasonably well.”
- Sarah Palin. Before she was picked as John McCain’s running mate, Kristol called her “my heartthrob” and declared “I don’t know if I can make it through the next three months without her on the ticket.”