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You wouldn't like Lindsey Graham when he's angry

PH2010032203489.jpgIf the policy inside the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham climate change bill seem to have finally come together, it looks like the politics are about to come apart. In a move that's surprised pretty much everybody, Harry Reid and the White House have signaled their intention to turn to immigration reform before they attempt climate-change legislation. And Lindsey Graham is not happy. Despite being the co-author of the the Graham-Schumer immigration bill, Graham wants to see energy move first. And if it doesn't, Graham is threatening to abandon both projects.

Sound petulant? Maybe. But Graham has a legitimate beef here. Climate change is much likelier to pass than immigration reform. For one thing, it's already passed the House. For another, Graham, Kerry, Lieberman and others have spent an extraordinary amount of time sounding out key legislators, business groups, advocacy organizations and pretty much everyone else with a loud voice or an important vote. This is going to be a hard bill to move, but they've spent months doing the hard work necessary to have a chance. (Whether the bill is a good bill worth moving is, I should say, another story entirely.)

The same cannot be said for immigration reform. The House has not considered legislation on the subject. There have not been endless stakeholder meetings or sessions with key legislators. Indeed, when I talk to people about the two issues, the difference is this: When people talk about climate change, they talk about passing a bill. When they talk about immigration reform, they talk about the electoral usefulness of bringing up the issue. In fact, I don't know of anyone who is not paid to be optimistic about an immigration bill passing who thinks that an immigration bill will pass.

And this is why Graham is angry: He's taken a huge risk to be the lone Republican on climate change. Patrick Creighton, a flack for the conservative Institute for Energy Research, says that Graham's involvement makes him "part of one of the most economically devastating pieces of legislation this country has ever seen, no more, no less." And now it looks like Democrats are going to leave that hanging there, moving to an immigration reform effort that won't pass but might split the Republican Party -- creating massive problems for pro-reform Republicans like, well, Lindsey Graham.

Moreover, Graham is right on the merits: Moving a climate change bill this year is more important than moving an immigration bill. There's a point-of-no-return on climate change: If you don't start getting carbon emissions down in the near future, it'll be too late. Immigration, conversely, is bad, but it's not getting dramatically worse or harder to fix with each passing month.

All that said, Democrats obviously have an election to win. Harry Reid, in particular, has an election to win in a state with a very large Hispanic population. And reformers were certainly given a great gift when Arizona decided to write xenophobia into its lawbooks and create a sense of emergency around state-level action on this issue. Put it all together and some Democratic strategists see the chance to bury the GOP's relationship with Hispanics for a generation.

So the politics of this are compelling for the Democrats in general and Reid in particular. But Graham, who wants the Democratic leadership and the White House to stick to the original plan and move a more important bill with a better chance of passage, is not only right to be annoyed, but as far I can tell, is actually right.

All that said, this conflict seems premised on the Senate's presumed inability to do two hard things at once. Lots of people agree that the Senate cannot focus on two big fights at once, but it's never been entirely clear why that's true.

(I'd also recommend Marc Ambinder's thoughts.)

Photo credit: Melina Mara/The Washington Post.

By Ezra Klein  |  April 26, 2010; 10:08 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Comments

It seems the Democrats are risking climate change legislation for a political gambit, and that seems an unwise and venal departure from the administration's record of leadership.

Posted by: jduptonma | April 26, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Eh, maybe you're right that immigration reform will be more difficult, but maybe you're not. Do we really know? Sure, a bill passed the House on energy - barely - and besides, they will surely have to go to conference if the Senate does anything. But my main contention here is I really, really doubt there are votes in the Senate for an energy bill. Plus, it might be more unpopular than immigration, which at least has the upshot of further cementing Hispanic voter support - as you indicate in your post.

I don't see why the House couldn't get an immigration bill done, given the large Dem majority. Many will vote against it, but as with energy it should be close. On the Senate side, wouldn't nearly all Democrats be in favor? And then you just need a few Republicans, which there certainly were the last time around.

Finally, just to be argumentative on the substance, perhaps you could make a case that immigration demand a legislative solution whereas, on climate, you can use the EPA to regulate away part of the problem. I know it's a stretch - but I'm just throwing it out there.

Posted by: gocowboys | April 26, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

"And this is why Graham is angry: He's taken a huge risk to be the lone Republican on climate change."

And he should be. At the party that makes it a huge risk to take a reasonable position on climate change.

Posted by: pneogy | April 26, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

It is a political gambit, but it may be a workable long-range political plan. The elections will take place in November and the Democratic Party needs hot-button issues in late June and mid-September to divert attention from health tax issues which will emerge at those times. By shifting climate change debate later in the calendar, it forces a split of opposition arguments: the opposition is forced to focus its rhetorical resources either on climate taxes or on health taxes. By shifting immigration reform earlier in the calendar, party candidates might get enough boost to overcome the wake of the health tax before summer campaigning and fund-raising. Leaving talking-points aside, there is, in practice, no particular rush on either immigration or climate change, so both really are issues suitable for electoral gamesmanship.

Posted by: rmgregory | April 26, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

kudos to you for your honesty as to the reason behind this Ezra.

I'll add word is that a lot of moderate democrats are really ticked off at Harry for doing this for his own personal political gain at potentially their expense. But when you have to save your own hide I'm guessing this is how you'd react to this.

Posted by: visionbrkr | April 26, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Rmgregory - I can predict to you right now that, unless they stick with the previous plan to proceed on energy now, it won't happen this year. Forget about later in the calender; when September rolls around and elections are coming up, do you think the Dems are actually going to push something that is so easily smeared as Cap and Tax? You can hold me to this prediction in the fall - I really hope I'm wrong.

Posted by: gocowboys | April 26, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

If Miss Thing is going to throw a hissy fit, (s)he should be angry with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who has turned up the heat on the immigration debate with the signing into law of that state's dubious "enforcement" law. That act alone guarantees immigration reform will be front and center this year, at the expense of many other issues.

Posted by: gmcduluth | April 26, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

"Arizona decided to write xenophobia into its lawbooks"

Doesn't this Arizona law just track the federal immigration law?

Posted by: lancediverson | April 26, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

So a Republican finally gets blindsided by a Democrat acting for purely political interests, and we're supposed to care at this point?

The GOP has exempted itself from all sympathy from me since their tantrums on the stimulus, health care, and even the the cap and trade bill that passed the house.

Boohoo for Lindsey. He should work on wrestling power from the mentally insane leadership in his party, and then maybe I'll have more than crocodile tears for him.

Posted by: cbaratta | April 26, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

It boggles my mind how little congress can get done with the number of staffers each member has. Do both, fer cristsakes.

Posted by: jeirvine | April 26, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

PS- The bill they were about to introduce seemed like little more than give aways to industry, so I'm not too saddenned by its apparent death.

That being said, climate change is a signature issue for me, and I think it's the most important issue for our government to be handling right now (in tandem with stimulating the economy).

What's more sad to me is that we have to play games to get single players on the GOP side of things to get anything done, when the position of their entire party is that Al Gore is a "fraud" and the temperatures of the past decare are a "hoax." I see the need for a seismic shift on the right before a real solution is going to pass the Senate.

Posted by: cbaratta | April 26, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

This is great analysis, Ezra. Immigration reform can wait a couple of months while the policy gets hashed out. In fact, failed immigration reform would be a political failure too, and would likely serve to radicalize the Republican Party even more -- hardly a desirable outcome, for anyone who missed the political dysfunction of the last year. Energy should be passed the minute the financial reform gets through.

I understand the impatience some people feel with Graham's party. But, when you've got Republicans who are willing to work with you, you absolutely must use their help. The goal here is to make the world a better place, not simply to get re-elected.

Posted by: jeffwacker | April 26, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Facts are always defeated by politics...just like healthcare...meanwhile the ship that is our nation lists...

Posted by: billbrann | April 26, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Why don't they use this a leverage. The democrats should tell Graham that they are willing to do energy first, if he votes for cloture on FinReg.

Posted by: mhollick | April 26, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Dem solution...don't get what you want ? Throw a tantrum, cry baby little 60's era spoiled rotten red diaper babies...

Posted by: billbrann | April 26, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Dem solution...don't get what you want ? Throw a tantrum, cry baby little 60's era spoiled rotten ick...

Posted by: billbrann | April 26, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

The switch to immigration reform represents a decision by the administration that it is not going to succeed in getting any more major legislative initiatives passed after FinReg. It's choosing instead to push the issue that it believes will most successfully mobilize the Democratic base in the fall.

Posted by: tomtildrum | April 26, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

"All that said, this conflict seems premised on the Senate's presumed inability to do two hard things at once. Lots of people agree that the Senate cannot focus on two big fights at once, but it's never been entirely clear why that's true."

The Senate can barely focus on 1 thing at a time...

Posted by: nomadwolf | April 26, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein is wrong as are most pundits on the left on illegal immigration. Xenophobia they claim, sometimes adding racism to the wording, how can the Republicans win over the Hispanic vote (or in other words are the Democrats looking to buy more votes at the expense of enforcing the law and doing what the American people prefer?) Just look at the comments below any major newspaper's articles in immigration and Arizona's decision. Most AMERICANS commend the courage of Arizona's governor. Mr. Klein, why don't you go live in the one of the border states, and experience first hand what is going on and why won't your newspaper give a column to an opposing view point columnist? Had your party and many of the White House leaders not been for open borders, we as a country would not be in this predicament of having to debate the issue.

Posted by: dallasal10 | April 26, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

We got energy you morons, we want jobs you idiots, and the higher the cost of energy you artificially impose on us, the more there will be less jobs!

We can't even effect the weather on this very POWERFUL planet, you think we're effecting the climate!

What a con job!

Posted by: theaz | April 26, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Gocowboys, you are the man(woman)! I could not have said it better myself. Ezra is wrong on so many levels, but you certainly got it right.
Let me ad that all of a sudden, Obama realized that he will be unelectable in 2012 if he does not fulfill his promise to the Latinos. If immigration reform is not passed before the November elections, it will not happen before 2012 (since the Dems most likely will lose 3-8 Senate seats and quite a few House seats in Nov.)and Obama will be a one-term president.

Posted by: mehuwss | April 26, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

What difference does it make anyway as to whether the climate "change" or immigration refrom/ammensty goes first? Both will fail any way. Climate "change" formerly known as global warming is a hoax hence the name change. After all you can't have global warming if studies show the world hasn't actually warmed since 1995. As for illegal amnesty I personally commend the governor of Arizona, and wish my own state would pass something similar, for signing the immigration enforcement bill, which merely provides the police in Arizona with the tools they need to enforce immigration control which is something the deliberatly incompetent federal government has refused to do. If they truely wanted to, the federal government could close the border with Mexico within months. Station U.S. military personell on the border in enough number to shut it down. In actuality it the duty of our government to do this because one of the definitions of nation hood is control on ones borders. Something the U.S. does not currently have.

Posted by: RobT1 | April 26, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Graham is a politico's politico. He became a senator by cynically driving the impeachment hearings against Clinton. What he wanted was all the chips associated with a bum rush for energy abuse standards and collect money galore in the process. He was never serious about Global Warming as the pivot and on immigration he was involved only to keep an ear on the debate and a foot on the process.

Posted by: Geopolitics101 | April 26, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I'd have an easier time feeling sorry for Graham if he hadn't voted 100% in lockstep with the Party of No on every issue this Congress.

Posted by: redwards95 | April 26, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Lindsey quails, panics:
Halts legislative reform
To stop more "outings."

Posted by: boxwell02 | April 26, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

"I'd have an easier time feeling sorry for Graham if he hadn't voted 100% in lockstep with the Party of No on every issue this Congress." I agree with that assessment.

But on the other hand I suppose his frustration makes me think that he actually wanted to get something done on climate change. But him and what army?

I just have to say that the title made me laugh for like five minutes.

Posted by: metricdisco | April 26, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"Doesn't this Arizona law just track the federal immigration law?"

No. If it did it would not be so controversial.

Federal law requires issuance of warrant upon probable cause before the making of an arrest relating to immigration status.

Arizona law now mandates warrantless arrests by local police upon "reasonable suspicion" of an immigration violation.

The Arizona law is in violation of the US Constitution for this reason, among others.

Posted by: Patrick_M | April 26, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like politics as usual, by Republicans and especially Democrats on the illegal immigration issue. Democrats may rally some pro-amnesty supporters to vote for some of their candidates, but their contempt for enforcement of laws will alienate the majority of independents.

Obama and Democrats should be honest, if they want virtual open borders, advocate for them, try to persuade most in Congress, as well as the public, to support such a policy. But to offer amnesty, mainly for partisan political reasons, while pretending as happened with the previous amnesty bill during the Reagan presidency, there will be future enforcement, is a charade that will fool few people.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | April 26, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Have they all forgotten that it was we, the people, who shouted down the egregious McCain/Kennedy Comprehensive Immigration Reform/Amnesty legislation in previous sessions? What part of NO to amnesty and increased Visa quotas are these morons in Washington incapable of understanding?

To many people competing for the same limited resources is NOT sane, sustainable social, economic, or environmental policy!

Posted by: edweirdness | April 26, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

The Obama, immigration reform ploy is nothing more than a cheap, partisan bid to stir up a big part of the Democrat base. Namely illegal immigrants and all their sympathizers.

Obama's immigration "reform". Is a fraud in more ways than one. It is a new voter, registration drive by and for Democrats. Give the outlaw immigrants AMNESTY and American citizenship so they will vote Democrat. Buying votes with tax dollars is just one of the M.O.s of the DNC.

Besides, the Obama, immigration "reform" scheme has been tried before and failed miserably. Not only does it NOT solve the illegal immigrant problem, it actually makes it much worse.

Posted by: battleground51 | April 26, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Then there's the question of how adding millions more people to our nation will in any way improve global warming, or the availability and costs of energy? Stabilizing population growth is arguably the answer to most of our problems, and answer that goes largely ignored south of the border.

Posted by: edweirdness | April 26, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Given a chance to crucify Republicans on their own party's xenophobia, and deliver the top priority that Latino voters want, this is a no brainer. I hate the Republicans, and any chance to highlight their bigotry and nativism I'm entirely for. Screw policy.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | April 26, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer last week signed a new law into effect that authorizes local police to stop and verify the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that 60% of voters nationwide favor such a law, while 31% are opposed.

Residents of Arizona approve of their new, illegal immigrant, reduction bill at 70%.

A clear, American majority want the illegal immigrant problem fixed NOW without AMNESTY involved.

Posted by: battleground51 | April 26, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Republicans want immigration reform! But not yet; it must wait a while. A single Republican has signed up for Climate change, and demands that he must e listened to.

The Republicans, after 1 year's debate, want to repeal and replace Health Care reform. But they will not mention what they will replace it with. Nor did they propose anything when they held the reins of power for 12 years.

I am tired of this childish behavior: Surely there is more than 1 rational and reasonable Republican! Surely the elected Republicans care for the country enough to actually try to DO something.

In the meantime, there is nothing wrong with knowing that they have no ideas even about what they say thery are pationate about, such as immigration reform.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | April 26, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

The liberal media says there are about 12,000,000 illegal immigrants hiding in the shadows. They used that same number back in the 1990s. The real number today is probably 20,000,000 or more. They are hiding in the shadows waiting for some sucker, U.S. president to give them AMNESTY and free, American citizenship.

AMNESTY is nothing more than bait to attract more outlaw aliens to enter America illegally. It creates a never ending cycle of immigration chaos.

Posted by: battleground51 | April 26, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Lindsey's little snit fits are tiresome.

The sad thing is that Democrats in SC vote for him. The DeMint fringe of the SC Republic Party don't like him. If he had half a brain, he would switch parties, be a moderate Democrat and keep his job. Fritz Hollings was SC's Democrat Senator for 30+ years, along side Strom Thurmond.

Posted by: edismae | April 26, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

"There's a point-of-no-return on climate change: If you don't start getting carbon emissions down in the near future, it'll be too late."

It largely doesn't matter if we pass an ineffective control on greenhouse gases now or later.

I don't see the political will to do enough in time to avoid that point of no return -- and human beings have only once in their 200,000 year history done anything remotely like solving a problem before it became serious (inventing agriculture -- and I'm pretty sure the didn't actually even see the climate change coming).

Not that I don't think we shouldn't tax the heck out of CO2 emissions. As you can see from several of the comments here (by people who are likely not scientists themselves ... they'd probably love me to come down to their offices or makeshift bunkers and tell them how to do their jobs) this country deserves it. I'm am completely for a carbon tax out of spite and spite alone.

But spite can take a back seat to Mr. Burns style deviousness on the part of Harry Reid in switching to immigration reform.

Posted by: JasonFromSeattle | April 26, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Had your party and many of the White House leaders not been for open borders, we as a country would not be in this predicament of having to debate the issue.

Posted by: dallasal10 | April 26, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

dallasal10, when were the borders ever closed?

Posted by: truthbeknown | April 26, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, I'm not so sure Congress can act on two bills at once in the present political climate in Washington. Wall Street regulation is a bipartisan slam-dunk that has turned yet again into a political street fight, so it is certain both climate and immigration will be duals to the death like health care. Sparatacus (Obama) and his gladiators can fight only one of these monsters at a time. The man shows amazing energy and fortitude.

To have Graham on board for climate legislation is priceless and I am sorry to see the Dems switch gears to immigration and lose his support. I am not mad at Graham, but very disappointed he is backing out. I know he has worked hard on this bill. It's a tough life for a gringo (congressperson) these days, but I am still disappointed climate was put in the back seat. I can see the Dems being lured into putting a few chinks in Republican armor over immigration. Man, Repubs just created a hole in their defense via AZ where even Senator Byrd could run 90 yards for a TD. Call it Arizona-lawyers-everyone go deep and score on 3.

Posted by: citizen4truth1 | April 26, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Besides, the Obama, immigration "reform" scheme has been tried before and failed miserably. Not only does it NOT solve the illegal immigrant problem, it actually makes it much worse.

Posted by: battleground51 | April 26, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

battleground51, could you please share the administration's plan for immigration reform with the rest of us? I haven't heard or read about it myself. What has Fox news conjured up?

Posted by: truthbeknown | April 26, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Graham is a putz. But he is sincerely interested in governance and has shown himself willing to risk the ire of his party to do the business of this country. The people who pulled this switcheroo on him did so with zero interest in governance...mere partisan hacks. We expected this from Reid. But now Obama too??

Posted by: CincinnatiRIck | April 26, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I can understand that some people can't walk and chew gum at the same time. However I think it is necessary to step into this immigration thing because citizens are going to be really harassed by this racist law and many may well be physically harmed with such a law in this state that will only lead to other racist governors implementing the same law; especially here in Richmond VA. This is a priority.

Posted by: calethia_hill10 | April 26, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Wow, what an intriguing prospect. Maybe with this immigration bill threat hanging over their heads, Republicans might actually be opened to negotiating earnestly about climate change legislation. I almost laughed out loud at just the thought of it!

Posted by: SlaveCo | April 26, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I have an easy way to fix the immigration problem. Let's let the people coming in illegaly from Mexico board buses and send them to the states that don't border Mexico. Let's give the Northeast and Midwest all the immigrants they want and the states that are troubled the most with high crimes and crowded hospital emergency rooms, crowded schools teaching english as a second language because of the illegals can sit back and see how the problem is handled. I live in Texas and would enjoy seeing Leahy's vermont, Kerry's Mass and all the other holier than thou libs get a chance to do what they want to do most serve the people.

Posted by: jcory | April 26, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Lindsey Graham should have had some pointed conversations with his GOP friends in the Arizona legislature and Governor's mansion back when it started to become clear that they were serious about this onstitution-busting law that will allow any cop to yell "show us your papers!" to anyone who is not white.

The national GOP is now stained with that law. That Graham's name is on the bill that is moving ahead in response to the Arizona move is tough luck for him.

Posted by: RalfW | April 26, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

battleground51, could you please share the administration's plan for immigration reform with the rest of us? I haven't heard or read about it myself. What has Fox news conjured up? Posted by: truthbeknown
---------
truthbeknown...what planet do you hail from? The exact details don't matter one whit...it's whatever makes the most political hay. Can you spell a-m-n-e-s-t-y?

Posted by: CincinnatiRIck | April 26, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm with Graham on this one. Immigration is hot but it can wait a couple months. There's still time to get an Energy Bill through the Senate and then get good spadework done on an Immigration Bill before the November elections.
Graham deserves all the respect and help he can get from Kerry & other Democrats working on energy - and from the White House too.
If there's ever going to be a bipartisan breakthrough, Graham is the country's best bet.
John Patrick Grace
Huntington, West Virginia

Posted by: publishersplace | April 26, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Dear Sirs,
Was it patriotic for Big Oil to drill at the US Naval oil reserve at Teapot Dome?
Was it patriotic for the right wing to second-guess attorney-general Janet Reno while she tried to uphold our immigration laws in the Elian Gonzales case?
Is the mockery of our immigration laws in Arizona in our national interest?
Clifford Spencer

Posted by: yankeefan1925 | April 26, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I don't blame Lindsay Graham one bit. President Obama claims to want bipartisan support and energy reform. Sen Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry have been intelligent and constant advocates on environmental and energy issues. For the second time Sen. Reid has shown how tone deaf and self absorbed he can be (the first time was when Olympia Snowe had taken risk for health care. Both times the buds of bipartisan support carefully pursued were nipped before they had a chance to flower. There have been many articles written about why Scott Brown won in Massachusetts and why attempts at moderation in both parties are overwhelmed by politics as usual. Once again Harry Reid has a major role to play and can cause many moderate Democrats and independents to vote republican in 2010. He is more interested in his own reelection than garnering bipartisan support for crucial legislation.

Posted by: ggolden | April 26, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I believe that Lindsey Graham had the potential to be a major line of communication for Obama and for reasonable Democrats. The game Harry is playing probably won't help him get re-elected, but it is going to hurt the President down the line.

Maybe it's time for some reasonable Democrats to have a chat with Harry.

Posted by: KHMJr | April 26, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

So much for Bi-partisanship and working towards a workable viable first step to getting out from underneath the foreign oil shadow.

Cheap political hackism by the Democrats to get the Hispanic votes. Illegal immigration is just that ... illegal. There is a legal way to become a citizen and openly contribute to our society, just do it the right way.

POTUS and the Democrats have no basic plan to deal with immigration (unless you say amnesty is the basic plan). They are willing to toss climate legislature for sleazy political aims. How's that change working for you?

Posted by: pielusztcontractor | April 26, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

The "it's already passed the House" thing actually strikes me as a really weak argument. All indications suggest that the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham bill does NOT look too much like the one that passed the House. No matter what happened, Nancy Pelosi would have had to marshal her forces for another tough, uncomfortable vote. Considering the bill barely passed in the "Democratic honeymoon" era, I really doubt she could scrape together a majority so close to a likely blowout election.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez (who has some real power in the House and is from Obama's state), has been slamming the Dem leadership for selling out immigrants throughout the healthcare process. I have to say I'm somewhat sympathetic. Immigration isn't the global life or death issue that climate is, but for millions of Americans (and by that I mean people who make their lives in America, regardless of their documented status), it's the most consequential thing in the world. I understand why Gutierrez thinks we should move on this as soon as possible.

Frankly, neither was going to pass so the hand-wringing on this seems really disingenuous. But immigration at least has enough business-friendly Republicans on board that we might be able to find consensus. The "mainstream" Republican position on climate change these days seems to posit it as something Al Gore made up to make Sarah Palin mad.

Posted by: NS12345 | April 26, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Reid can pull all the scheduling strings he wants; he's going to be cutting lawns in 2011 anyway, so let him pander to the folks unfortunate enough to be working with him next year. Climate and Immigration are both long shots likely to fail, but distinguish Dems from GOPers. I'm all for making that distinction, so Republicans can build on probable mid-term results, heading into 2012.

Posted by: ecrutle | April 26, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I am no Graham fan, but on this one, I agree with him. Getting any republican to move on climate change is like trying to change lead into gold. Blowing it, so Harry can save himself (which isn't likely anyway) is absurd. Get the best possible climate deal, then worry about immigration.

Posted by: Pearl77 | April 26, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Ezra Klein, whose only apparent contribution of substance to the global warming debate is his kung pao, actually sees reason to feel sorry for Lindsay. Republicans long ago stopped such foolish feelings. Now that he's misused and abused the trust of the public and his party of record with such a costly and ill conceived climate change bill, its only fair that the opportunistic hacks for the dems should bestow the same favor on Lindsay, who was trying to do the same once again to the public and his party with immigration deform.

Posted by: Bill1937 | April 26, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

dallasal10 says: " Most AMERICANS commend the courage of Arizona's governor.------- Careful with the capital letters, whizbang! There happen to be a lot more AMERICANS who you do not recognize as true AMERICANS also! Just because THEY do not agree with your short-sighted stance. Every 40-60 years or so a new segregationist comes out of the dung pile. Jan Brewer is no more than a the modern era George Wallace. The law will be overturned and she will pass away with time. I can only hope you get another 10,000 undocumented immgirants (illegal to you lazy bums!) per law enforcement official. That ought to keep you REALLY hoppin'!!
As for Reid, he will most likely be re-elected and a new climate bill AND a new immigration law will be passed with thousands of new Americans in our work force. Choke on THAT!

Posted by: dakotahgeo | April 26, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Come on now! This immigration thing is far more important than "climate change".
Have you noticed how the "Climate" has changed in Arizona? At least, that state had the "cajones" (so to speak), to take the initiative, and send a message to Washington D.C., and the rest of America, that we cannot continue to allow Border Country's problems to spill over into our territory. It's plain and simple. These
folks that break our laws, kill our citizens, drag drugs into our world, do not deserve the rights they think they have.

The Phoenix, having consumed itself with the flames, hopefully, as the myth goes,
will rise renewed.

Rock on Arizona! There's some leadership!

Don Holliday,
San Diego

Posted by: zgooddr45 | April 26, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Ezra- you may be on to something here. The 'Pugs don't have to yell and scream, just hand out sticks of gum...

Posted by: ihateliars | April 26, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Yeah Lindsey, we can't do both (climate change and immigration reform legislation) - unless it was a Republican administration.

Face it, the reason you're miffed is that immigration reform is the Republican's Achilles heel demographically. Especially when the Tea Party (a wholly owned subsidy of the Republican Party) is forcing Republicans far right.

I want to see SC Tea Party activists eat Lindsey alive. No wonder he's angry. Screw climate change legislation - who wants to go on an expensive carbon diet that will make virtually no difference to global warming (i.e. world-wide emissions are expected to increase over 50% in the next twenty years regardless of what we do).

Posted by: dobermantmacleod | April 26, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

If the climate/energy bill is so close to passing, then get it done and move on to immigration. What is the matter with these guys, can't they keep more than one ball in motion at a time, even if one is on the table and the other is in the air? Graham is a wimp and is singular of mind. It is time for him to start earning his keep and stop fumbling around and pretending to be worth his 175K a year. Right now, he is looking more like a 10%'er.

Posted by: ronjeske | April 26, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

I have no argument with your report but I submit that resolution of both immigration and carbon emission issues will only come to pass when Corporate America decides to part of the Solution instead of continuing to be part of the Problem.
Required reading for all involved, should be a daily reading of the Preamble to our Constitution before pursuing their enough is never enough profit making agenda.

Posted by: destro23 | April 26, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Though it may be true that climate control legislation is likelier to pass before the mess of immigration reform, I find Graham's "petulance" no different than his negative bluster over healthcare reform. Who does he think he is anyway? In this world compromise is necessary more than on just ONE piece of legislation. Perhaps had he NOT been the poster child for NO less often and more for LET US work as a team, he would be considered in a better light and his weight carry further.

Posted by: moonglowsun | April 26, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

If Sen. Graham is frustrated with the rate of progress, maybe the "Party of No" isn't the place to be.

The only reason any of this is an issue is that the Republican agenda is pure obstructionism (lie, mislead, obfuscate, fillibuster) - gambling national priorities for political gains. Otherwise, the Senate could consider both bills - without needing super-majorities for every discussion - and he wouldn't be ostracized for trying to find a workable solution to a national problem.

Posted by: ncooty | April 26, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Why do the second and third generation offspring of immigrants feel like they need to close the door behind them?


Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Posted by: Uncle_Joe | April 26, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

The climate bill the Senate is pushing is garbage, sadly. Why not cover the CLEAR Act, Ezra? It's a better bill, just raise the caps on carbon in the bill. CLEAR doesn't create the next Wall St derivatives bubble - carbon trades - and doesn't hand entire industries a free pass. And, immigration and discrimination might not impact you, Ezra dear, but almost 20% of America is Latino now. We'd like to be free to travel in our own country, without risking detention and deportation even though we're citizens/legal residents.

So, quit pushing a pathetic pro-corporate, pro-nuclear & "clean coal" and drill-now energy bill, and teach your readers about CLEAR. And support comprehensive immigration reform that helps people more than corporations.

Posted by: VCubed | April 26, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,

That's an interesting take, but it flies in the face of logic given that last month Senator Graham was complaining that the White House wasn't doing enough pushing immigration reform forward http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2010/03/19/sen-graham-immigration-will-be-casualty-of-health-bill/ .

What actually seems to be going on is that Senator Graham knows that either immigration reform or climate change will sink him in his party when his positions come out (which is quite obviously going to be the case since he has been "outed" by the right wing, teabagger part). Moreover immigration reform in particular will sink or split his party (as it has not more than two years ago). This is a way to kill, scuttle, or delay both by getting reasonable people like you to carry his party's water in believing an absurd demand: that a lone senator from a minority party has should be able to set the agenda of the entire Congress.

He has recently been re-elected so he's politically safe for now, but his party isn't. The teabaggers are already going to the polls to vote R because of health care and the Republican Party is not going to pick up any votes because of immigration. Bringing this up now, when there is obviously a large mainstream backlash being built on the Arizona Law is a great (political) opportunity for the Democratic Party. Lindsey knows it and wants to push it until after the election (where his party is sure to gain seats and will gain more nationally if immigration reform doesn't come out before the election).

To that, I'd say, true. But where was Senator Grapham when Daschle was begging Bush to push back the Iraq War by a couple months to de-politicize it? Oh yeah, probably smiling at Vice President Dick Cheney along with President Bush.

Senators Lieberman and Reid carried his water with the Gang of 14 and the non-prosecution of torture. Now, he feels he has a right to cry and set the Senatorial agenda all by himself? If his fellow senators fall for this ploy, they probably deserve to be booted out of office for being politically stupid.

Posted by: tychay1 | April 26, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Lindsey will find out eventually that you can't play nice with DEMS. They will double cross you. As for cap and tax, why don't you news people really dig in and find out who the players are and who will benefit. Is this another scheme to make money ie Al Gore and others? As for immigration, just inforce our current laws. Reagan han an amnesty program and the FEDs didn't close the border. DEMS want to use it for political votes...horrible stuff. Wake up America, there are still more of us than them.

Posted by: Jackets | April 26, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

How about real reporting of what both of these so-called "reforms" actually do?

Posted by: NetizenKane | April 26, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

I like how you say "it passed the house already" as if it means something Ezra.

Hundreds of bills have already passed the house and are languishing, I sincerely doubt it would have come to anything just like it never materialized before.

Posted by: Msut1 | April 26, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Well immigration reform is probably the most important of the two issues here. It is an immediate problem facing this country. Obviously the Republicans want to do everything necessary to sweep immigration under the rug, after all it benefits their masters, Big AgriBusiness, home building, and other businesses. Hey, all of a sudden you will have to start paying those illegals an actual living wage--like minimum wage. Since labor constitutes most of the cost of doing business, that is the last thing any business wants. They want the status quo preserved plain and simple.

However, of the two, energy policy is the long term problem for this country. Being long term, solutions and the impact of any energy bill is not going to be readily apparent, certainly not for the mid-term elections. But it is one thing that a Republican can actually run on in a positive light, "We are reducing our dependence on foreign oil", has a nice jingoistic ring to it.

Posted by: RedRat | April 26, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Ezra... the immigration work should go first because it's much more important. If you have any idea about science, bias in science, etc., you'd be scared as heck about science in the wake of the Penn State, NASA, E. Anglia University email mess.

Even Marx might be upset... he believed in truthfully performed science. Instead we get Marxism based on bad science. Max Weber is spinning in his grave at regarding this astounding breach of intellectual stoicism. But is is all about the $$ and the fame. Just look at Al Gore since 2000....

Posted by: rethman | April 26, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Ezra... the immigration work should go first because it's much more important. If you have any idea about science, bias in science, etc., you'd be scared as heck about science in the wake of the Penn State, NASA, E. Anglia University email mess.

Even Marx might be upset... he believed in truthfully performed science. Instead we get Marxism based on bad science. Max Weber is spinning in his grave at regarding this astounding breach of intellectual stoicism. But is is all about the $$ and the fame. Just look at Al Gore since 2000....

BTW, it's the GOP is increasingly the party of Know... much to the chagrin of many, including me at times.

Posted by: rethman | April 26, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

I don't like Lindsey Graham, whether he's angry or not.

In fact, I think he is a traitor to our nation, as is the President and every member of Congress who will not enforce our borders and keep illegals out of the country unless we agree to allow 20,000,000 people illegally in the country to stay here, bring their relatives, and become citizens.

These officials are a danger to the United States. And I think the people of South Carolina will send Graham home next time he runs--and he knows it. He's making points with fat cat interests so he can get a job inside the beltway when he leaves the Senate.

Posted by: rphillips1 | April 26, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

I don't like Lindsey Graham, whether he's angry or not.

In fact, I think he is a traitor to our nation, as is the President and every member of Congress who will not enforce our borders and keep illegals out of the country unless we agree to allow 20,000,000 people illegally in the country to stay here, bring their relatives, and become citizens.

These officials are a danger to the United States. And I think the people of South Carolina will send Graham home next time he runs--and he knows it. He's making points with fat cat interests so he can get a job inside the beltway when he leaves the Senate.

Posted by: rphillips1 | April 26, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

What Obama and the Democrats have to focus on for the next six months is giving voters a reason to GOTV and support them during the mid-term elections. If they lose the house or the senate, they won't be passing anything for the next two years, they'll be spending all their time dealing with birther-gate hearings.
So why would Obama care right now whether Graham is angry?
The Democrats couldn't pick two better issues to fight the midterm elections on than immigration reform and financial reform -- Democratic voters and independents by the millions will come out to support Democratic initiatives in these areas.
Climate change? Not so much -- no matter what Graham says, the Senate Republicans will never support anything the Democrats are proposing anyway, but the issue is so complicated and difficult that it simply won't inspire any votes in November.

Posted by: cfornssler | April 27, 2010 1:45 AM | Report abuse

In this modern age of ours, Republicans lie. It's just how they roll. Anyone who thinks Lindsay Graham, under fire from his own party for being gay, would actually vote with Democrats on any issue at all is living in some sort of alternate universe. It makes no sense to negotiate with the GOP on any issue unless the bill has already been passed by committee and is under discussion. Taking time to be bipartisan at this stage is simply a waste of time and offers the GOP unlimited opportunities to sandbag legislation.

Posted by: rnsmatile | April 27, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Hey Ezra... I can't stand Lindsey Graham when he's NOT angry. Don't like him period.

But on this he doesn't have two legs to stand on. Neither branch of Congress is hamstrung. They are capable of doing more than one thing at once. Neither the House nor the Senate work in a linear, serial manner.

So this petulance by Graham is just posing. He could have introduced his climate bill yesterday, as scheduled. It wouldn't have been up for a vote for at least weeks, if not months. Regardless of the status of immigration, Graham would still have to convince his "cap and tax" cronies to support his bill. So this is hogwash, and that pig's pretty dirty.

Graham, as you mention, also has an immigration bill he co-authored with Chuck Schumer. How silly is Graham not jump on this bot button issue? Right now, his one vote is worth more on immigration than climate change. He could out "maverick" the "original maverick" who doesn't think of himself as a "maverick" by going all "mavericky" and being the voice of Republican reason on immigration. But he won't.

He's the Republcan version of the old Tareyton cigarette ad ("I'd rather fight than switch"): He'd rather pout than lead.

Posted by: jade_7243 | April 27, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I don't care for wishy-washy Graham under any circumstances, mad or happy. He is an opportunist of the first order, a man with little principal. Graham's real strength is finding a TV camera and a microphone to use to spread his homely face around. I guess it makes him feel less homely. Graham is a weasel. Do not listen to anything he says. One day, he plays up to Obama and the next day, he tries to influence Harry Reid (not very successfully). First, he wets his finger and sticks it up in the wind to see which what it's blowing....

Posted by: RonKH | April 27, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

what's new?ZZZZZZZZZZZ typical graham ploy
http://americasvoiceonline.org/blog/entry/lindsey_graham_and_the_real_cynical_political_ploy_on_immigration/

Posted by: neec13 | April 28, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Senator Lindsey Graham is
the real man of steel.

He is the real profile in courage
while the Democrats f him over
on the Energy Bill, after he sticks his politikal neck on the chopping block to show real bipartianship.

Wow! You guys really suck!

Send that cat money,
he out of all of the US Congress deserves money for his re-eclection bid.

Disgusting how people pay all sorts of lip service, but in the end it's the man from South Carolina who walks the walk and not just talk the talk.

Three cheers for Senator Lindsey Graham
for having politikal balls of steel!

Hoo Rah!
Hoo Rah!
Hoo Rah!

Posted by: steve_real | April 29, 2010 6:49 AM | Report abuse

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