Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Party of Lemmings

Leading Republican senators back a "comprehensive immigration reform bill" that grants amnesty for tens of millions of illegal immigrants co-authored by Ted Kennedy and pushed by a president whose popularity is currently polling in the low 30's, and are then "surprised" to discover that their constituents don't like it.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In his speech Tuesday on immigration reform, President Bush was trying to provide political cover for members of Congress to support the legislation. That could be tough.

Republicans are getting an earful on immigration. "I have learned some new words from some of my constituents," Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, said.

The angry response comes as a shock. "The level of intensity and volume is, I think, surprising,'' CNN contributor and radio talk show host Bill Bennett said. "We've talked to a number of Republican senators, and they confessed to being surprised by the reaction."

There's a big difference in intensity. Among those who favor a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, 28 percent say the issue is extremely important to them, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll. Those who oppose a path to citizenship feel much more strongly about the issue. Forty-seven percent say it's extremely important.

If, in fact, the GOP senators are actually surprised by the reaction they are getting, then it is the clearest bit of evidence yet that the GOP under George Bush has become completely divorced from reality. The GOP base has made its opposition to amnesty loud and clear for years; the issue has come up before. The polling has been consistent. So, either GOP leaders are lying - and thus admitting that they are backing a bill that they know their base doesn't want (in which case announcing that they don't serve the interest of their voters and don't care what they think) - or they truly don't have a clue what is going on in the country. Worse, perhaps they truly don't understand what is going on, and don't care.

A political party that defies its constituents' most strongly held beliefs and actively seeks to diminish its voting base is a party headed toward extinction. But that is what George Bush has done to the GOP - turned it into a party of lemmings.


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