Washington Post columnist George Will writes today about the Republicans’ temptation to attack Democrats for the Senate bill on immigration reform, calling it an amnesty sell-out. This attack we may see more of despite the fact that 33 Republican senators voted for the bill. Will notes that short term goals may yield long term losses:
Republicans very much want to pass an immigration bill as proof their party can govern. For that reason, there is no reason to expect Senate Democrats to compromise by passing something like the House bill. Nothing very different from it has any chance of being accepted by the House. So, safely assuming that the House-Senate conference fails to produce a compromise acceptable to both houses, when Congress returns to Washington after the Labor Day recess, the House may again pass essentially what it passed in December, just to enable Republicans to campaign on the basis of a clear and recent stance against exactly what Santorum’s ad stands against.
The cost of this, paid in the coin of lost support among Latinos, the nation’s largest and fastest-growing minority, may be reckoned later, for years. Remember this: Out West, feelings of all sorts about immigration policy are particularly intense, and if John Kerry had won a total of 127,014 more votes in New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado, states with burgeoning Latino populations, he would have carried those states and won the election. But for now, the minds of Republican candidates are concentrated on a shorter time horizon — the next 4 1/2 months.