Harry Reid's hapless play on immigration and climate change
So what, exactly, was the point of Democratic leaders making it known last week that they might move on immigration before climate change? It looks like a transparently political play to attract Latino voters. But it hasn’t worked out all that well.
First the news royally peeves Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), to the point that he abandons the rollout of the climate bill he’s been toiling over for months, threatening to squander the unprecedented momentum behind comprehensive legislation. Graham gets so riled that he now seems to be demanding that Democratic leaders assure him that immigration won’t come up at all this year, no matter when, before he rejoins the climate effort. TPM’s Brian Beutler reports that, absurdly, Graham is even threatening to filibuster his own climate bill. Good, some Democrats might say. Climate wasn’t a political winner for Democrats, anyway. Except it’s critical to move on the policy soon, and, as I pointed out yesterday, the Democrats probably won’t be able to avoid the toxic politics of climate change whether or not they consider the climate bill.
And then this: On Tuesday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid backpedals, indicating that the Democrats will probably consider climate legislation before immigration, after all. So Reid is in a worse place than when he started, recommitted to bringing up climate legislation that his calculations and Graham’s resulting theatrics have now rendered even less likely to pass.
And what, exactly, did Reid get in return for letting it slip last week that immigration might trump climate, hitting Graham just a few days before the climate effort was set to ramp up? Couldn’t this doozy have waited before the climate bill was on firmer political ground?
Maybe not -- Arizona’s scary new immigration law, perhaps, demands a response. Yet immigration’s utility as a wedge issue is also higher the closer to the election it’s debated. Why didn’t Reid simply indicate his support for passing comprehensive immigration reform in a way that sounded less threatening to the climate folks, then move on immigration more aggressively closer to the election? Even from a political strategist’s point of view, that increasingly looks like a better path not taken.
| April 28, 2010; 12:02 PM ET
Categories: Stromberg | Tags: Stephen Stromberg
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