I keep going back to the Terri Schiavo case. That’s when I think the rightwing carousel began to break down and the painted horses lost their rhythm, pawing the air to no avail. Talk radio and cable news tilted heavily for Schiavo’s parents and against Michael Schiavo, Jeb Bush jowlily postured and interposed himself with shameless zeal, Congressional Republicans stuck their beaks into this private turmoil, Bush broke precedent to interrupt his precious downtime in Crawford to sign a hocked-up bill,–and they all misread the public’s mood. The American public wanted them to butt out. That they could get it so wrong was a sign that they had lost touch and couldn’t mold public opinion on every issue as if it were the mashed-potatoes mountain in Close Encounters of the Third Sign. But so thick, rich, and impacted was their arrogance that they ignored the warning sign, just as they ignored the warning signs in Iraq until it turned into a danse macabre.
But the misreading of public opinion re Schiavo didn’t cost Republicans much. The misreading, the mishandling, of the immigration controversy will. As Tom Watson writes today, “The outpouring was not from the right-wing base, as hoped. Oh, immigration reform is in the wind alright – but it’s not moving in the direction that people like Tom Tancredo, James Sensenbrenner, and JD Hayworth intended. It’s moving the other way, entirely. By stirring the pot in a desperate attempt at a galvanizing issue in what is shaping up as a disastrous election year for the home team, the Tancredo Wing has pretty much ensured that immigration reform in the United States will lead to a liberalization of current law. One more trip to the well with the old fear-laden, us-versus-them cultural themes of Ronald Reagan’s craven Southern Strategy has yielded disaster for nativist conservatives.”
I titled this post Schadenfreude for a number of reasons, but they all revolve around one fact: Last Sunday, there was the largest demonstration in Dallas, Texas, in its history. What this says to me is everything that Wolcott is saying it says to him: the Republicans fucked up in a big way. They miscalculated. They aroused the wrong side of this issue. It’s a pretty good indicator of how lost the Republicans really are, that John Cornyn, one of Bush’s most ardent loverboys, is caught between his purty preznit and the minority majority constituency he ostensibly represents. So he spouts this shit:
Cornyn responded that he fears no backlash among Hispanics, arguing that many legal immigrants are concerned about illegal immigration.
“Illegal immigration tends to drive down the wages of legal immigrants,” he said.
Even though polls have shown the opposite. Not to mention the actual backlash – 500,000 on the streets of Dallas, Texas, alone.
I also must confess to feeling schadenfreude about being sure, in the face of a bit of liberal opposition to my position, that immigration was not going to be the big winning wedge issue for the Republicans they thought it was going to be. Well, I guess those who saw it as a wedge issue were partly right – it seems to be widening the rifts in the Republican party. hee hee!