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Tom Paine versus illegal immigration

One of my favorite celebrities from the early days of the tea party movement -- before Republicans pandered to it, unsure what Glenn Beck was doing out there -- was Bob Basso, a motivational speaker who dressed up as Thomas Paine and spoke in high-falutin' language about American principles. A video of Basso-as-Paine even opened Fox News's all-day coverage of the first April 15 tea parties.

Via the Minuteman Project, I see that Basso is still at it. His new focus: illegal immigration.

"Amnesty!" said Basso. "A solution, or the final nails in the coffin of America?" An immigration compromise, argues Basso-as-Paine, would tell non-Americans that "overcome us with numbers, and our pandering politicians will see you as future voters!"

This video isn't going viral like Basso's early videos -- his first, nearly incoherent statement about the stimulus is close to 10 million YouTube views -- but here's another example of the lack of cohesion between tea partyers post-health-care reform. Libertarians like Dick Armey broke with conservatives over immigration reform and accused hard-liners of hurting the rest of the movement. As we debated government spending and health care, all the divisions disappeared. But immigration, if we actually deal with it, splits the conservative activists from the libertarians all over again.

By David Weigel  |  May 25, 2010; 10:46 AM ET
Categories:  Immigration , Tea Party  
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