Jeb Bush, the son and brother of separate presidents who may get the Republican nomination in 2016 because he’s folksier than Mitt Romney, made some controversial remarks about immigrants during an interview with Fox News on Sunday. Implicitly criticizing the Tea Party wing of the GOP, he said that undocumented immigrants who have come to the United States should not be treated as felons. From Politico:
“It’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family,” Bush said. “I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime. There should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families.”
Bush presumably agrees with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus that Romney’s idea of making life miserable for undocumented immigrants so they “self-deport” was “horrific,” at least in terms of political strategy.
After Romney lost in 2012, it was briefly conventional wisdom that congressional Republicans would need to work with President Barack Obama to pass immigration reform and improve the party’s terrible image among Hispanic and non-white voters. But that argument has lost steam, perhaps because the different turnout dynamics of midterm elections mean that the Republicans are likely to win big in 2014 on the basis of older white voters.
House Speaker John Boehner (from the least productive Congress in modern memory) went to Fox on Monday to shoot down any idea that Bush’s interview was a sign of progress on immigration reform. He told Megyn Kelly that Obama’s efforts to “ignore the law” regarding the Affordable Care Act (i.e., making changes to the ACA in response to implementation problems) has killed any chance of bipartisanship: “That will make it almost impossible to ever do immigration reform because he will spoil the well to the point where no one will trust him by giving him a new law that he will implement it the way the Congress intended.”
So nothing has changed since last October, when Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who was supposed to be a rising star capable of bringing Hispanic votes to the GOP, reversed his support for immigration reform on the grounds that Obama was too sneaky to work with. Salon’s Brian Beutler wrote then about “the consequence of Boehner’s decision to let conservative hard-liners kill comprehensive reform”:
Some of these members are motivated more by spite than by the sum of their concern for the national welfare, the interests of their constituents, and their own partisan allegiances. Others oppose reform more earnestly. But together they comprise a faction that’s pulling the Republican Party in a whites-only direction. Rubio’s latest move suggests they’ve won the tug of war.
More recently, the American Conservative’s Scott Galupo wrote that the tension between the presidential Republican Party and the more conservative congressional Republican Party will only get worse after this fall:
If and when Republicans retake the Senate, the intraparty feud, now simmering, will begin to boil anew. The rightmost flank, flush with victory, will need to be appeased. And the ideological toxicity; the demographics of death; the lack of a viable national standard-bearer — these factors and others will conspire to elect the next President Clinton.
BTW, Galupo’s link is to a CNN story headlined “GOP problem: 'Their voters are white, aging and dying off.'"
Photo: Immigrant Isabel Rivera from the Dominican Republic takes the oath of citizenship during a 2013 naturalization ceremony in New York. (CNS photo/Brendan McDermid, Reuters)