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What The Pundits Are Missing

Sunday, January 6, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

It is obvious that in the space of just a couple of days, John McCain has rekindled the furious anger in the GOP base that he ignited with McCain-Kennedy immigration “reform” (twice), the Gang of 14, the votes against the Bush tax cuts and, of course, McCain-Feingold.

But it is mostly McCain’s adamant refusal to acknowledge the many deep defects in his immigration bills that has started the bonfire anew.

The Manhattan-Beltway elite didn’t see the public’s rejection of the immigration “reform” coming last year, and they don’t see it this year. They think last night’s debate and this morning’s round of Sunday talk shows was about Romney taking all the arrows. In fact, in the base, it is about the return of the old McCain who refuses to accept the widely shared view that his bill was far too soft on illegal immigrants, and far too short on security. He now talks up security without candidly admitting just how soft his bills were on those who had crossed our borders illegally, and thus signals everyone who cares about the issue that he will try a third jam down just as soon as he is able. Even GOP immigration moderates, and I am among them, don’t believe in Social Security benefits for years spent working under a false number, and we don’t believe in conferring voting rights on anyone who entered the country illegally who doesn’t first go home for an extended stay. We are also very suspicious of McCain’s commitment to the real fence –the double layered one that actualy works in places like San Diego.

And immigration hardliners and moderates alike hated the Z Visa because it was a charade. Candor, please, and that’s not what we got last year or last night from the Staright Talk Express. McCain couldn’t help himself because he really doesn’t believe in even the moderate position. That showed last night and this morning, and the days and weeks ahead will reflect the cost to his campaign. To get the GOP nomination, you have to reflect the GOP’s mainstream on all of the big issues, not just the war, and those include judges, tax cuts, and most certainly illegal immigration.

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