Immigration reform and the GOP - the shame of it all

In his Monday column this week Robert Novak hits the GOP hard for failing to pass a meaningful immigration bill:

"Immigration is the most melancholy element of a depressing Republican year. The Iraq intervention and its aftermath have hurt, and Republican inattention to runaway government spending has been deplorable. But immigration is the issue most likely to cause rank-and-file Republican voters to stay home on Election Day, and it may cost the party its congressional majorities."

As I wrote this morning, the failure of the immigration bill is a potent symbol of the failure of these modern Republicans to tackle the important challenges of our time.  From the right to the left all wanted to do something this year.  A good and sensible bi-partisan bill was offered.  The President supported it.  As did all 44 Democrats in the Senate, and most Democrats in the House.  A little bit of work - that thing called governing - could have brought everyone together to solve a vexing national challenge.  But they couldn't do it.  They couldn't find common ground in their own party.  

In the process the Republicans have angered both their own base, and the many immigrants who believed this President and his Party that would be different. 

So, in the great modern Republican tradition, when that governing thing doesn't work, what does one do? Politics.  Blame others.  Use TV ads to demonize your opponent.  Attack them for being with "the other."

Using immigration as a blunt weapon against an opponent is being tried right now in Rhode Island.  The National Republican Party, through its Senate arm, has been running an ad on behalf of Lincoln Chafee accusing his opponent Steve Laffey of accepting a Mexican ID in his town where he has been mayor.  The ad then says that the FBI has said that these IDs could be used by terrorists to get other IDs. 

What's remarkable about this ad full of brown faces and terrorists is that using this ID is common practice across the United States, and is sanctioned by the Treasury Department.  It is not all that unreasonable, as it is a government issued ID by our largest neighbor, and a friendly one to boot. 

Mexicans.  IDs.  FBI.  Terrorists.  I see. 

So Bush promotes sensible immigration reform.  His Party balks.  His Party runs ads equating immigrants to terrorists in a Republican primary.  He stays silent. 

Imagine what they gonna use against Democrats, who actually tried to work with him to pass the good McCain-Kennedy Bill.  Gonna be a difficult and troubling fall.