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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.

By Stephen Stromberg  | April 28, 2010; 12:02 PM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  | Tags:  Stephen Stromberg  
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My thoughts exactly. Would it have been so hard to tuck immigration chip into your shirt pocket while sealing the deal on the clean energy & climate bill? Trying to exploit the immigration issue so quickly & clumsily turned what could've been a thoughtful national debate this summer into just another partisan squabble.

Posted by: TheGreenMiles | April 28, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Since the Republicans are failing to assist in almost every particular, they've rejected the opportunity to be 'part of the solution' and I expect Energy is going to be a longer, more protracted fight than Immigration will be...doesn't have to be mutually exclusive, we can do Immigration and Energy if the Republicans weren't a bunch of do-nothing, know nothing slackers screaming at everyone to get off their lawns...

Posted by: russcarter1 | April 28, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Well, considering that almost the entirety of graham's objection centers around the fact that bringing up immigration right now would hurt John McCain in his reelection bid against primary challenger Hayworth, I think we can just ignore Graham's protest as just looking out for his cronies, more political backiwashing. So both sides are playing politics with this, the Dems because they correctly believe, especially with the Arizona law, that immigration is a more pressing issue, regardless of whether it is politically expedient to take up the issue now, and the Repubs because, even though immigration is a more urgent topic, it is politically dangerous for them, and their re-election trumps the needs of the country. But thanks to Stromberg for pointing out that Lindsay Graham stands on principle and for enlightening us to exactly what those principles are. I'm sure the fact that you didn't mention Graham's primary motivation, helping the reformed maverick get re-elected was just an oversight on your part and not a means of slanting this news story to misleadingly appear more favorable to the Right.

Posted by: jalabar1 | April 28, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

to all,

it makes ZERO difference at this juncture.

as the DIMocRATS are and BHO is soon to be IRRELEVANT.

the DIMocRATS are DONE in November, as they will LOSE both houses of the Congress.

voting for "healthcare reform" FINISHED the DIMocRATS, as 2/3 of voters OPPOSE their law.

yours, TN46

Posted by: texasnative46 | April 28, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

to all,

it makes ZERO difference at this juncture.

as the DIMocRATS are.

the DIMocRATS are DONE in November, as they will LOSE both houses of the Congress.

voting for "healthcare reform" FINISHED the DIMocRATS, as 2/3 of voters OPPOSE their law.

yours, TN46

Posted by: texasnative46 | April 28, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Not to be mean, but Reid did suffer a minor stroke a while back. I wouldn't be surprised if it affected his mental bearings.

Posted by: Puller58 | April 29, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

The dictionary should define the word "BUFFOON" with a full color photo of hapless Harry Reid.

The guy's a partisan hack in every sense of the word.

The only other Senator that comes close to hapless Harry in cynical dishonesty is Arlen Spector.

Posted by: battleground51 | April 29, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

It is interesting that it is a Republican governor and State Legislature in Arizona that finally addresses the immigration train wreck. The party of NO as Democrats call them actually are the only ones addressing the problem. The reason the last Amnesty Immigration bill was defeated was because it just made illegals citizens.

The Democrats controlling the White House and Congress are failing miserable at protecting the American people. That is their primary responsibility, not spending money on new entitlements we can't afford.

How many people have to die or get robbed due to drugs, gangs and rampant crime imported from Mexico before action is taken at the Federal level to first secure the border. Then figure out what to do with the illegals here.

Posted by: 1951dewey | April 29, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Harry Reid has the ultimate learning disability. He
stupid. He's also cunning and feral.

Posted by: sailhardy | April 29, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Reid is a sideshow.

What is more telling is this writer's description of the recently passed Arizona immigration law. "Scary"?

At this point it is clear that anyone who looks askance at this law has not read it or chooses to ignore the FACT that it conforms ENTIRELY to Federal law.

Liberals are playing their usual silly game. You know, the one where there's a monkey with hands over his ears, another with hands over his eyes, and a third with... well, maybe the libs don't imitate that monkey, the one with the hands over his mouth. Just tune into Maddow, Matthews, or Olbermann and listen sometime.

Posted by: bryanmcoleman | April 29, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

To those of you who are roasting that old chestnut of the republicans are working with us, ask yourself one question. Did you accept any input from republicans on Health Care, Porkulas I & II, Finance Reform? Now you mash your teeth together whining "they won't work with us". Jesus, you people are pathetic. The phone works both ways, too bad you haven't realized it yet.

Posted by: elcigaro1 | April 29, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

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