A bully on every corner

Ryan Lizza has an excelle

By Tim Murphy

Ryan Lizza has an excellent piece in the latest New Yorker on the role of immigration in the GOP Primaries. Not surprisingly, John McCain comes off as the only sane mind in the bunch, and he does his best to show that at least one Republican this year can talk about immigration without race baiting. For example:

To the student with the immigration question, McCain patiently explained that some illegal immigrants had faced unusual circumstances, and he mentioned a woman who has lived in the United States for decades and has a son and a grandson serving in Iraq. When the student said that he wanted to see punishment meted out to anyone who has broken the law, McCain stopped trying to find common ground. “If you’re prepared to send an eighty-year-old grandmother who’s been here seventy years back to some country, then frankly you’re not quite as compassionate as maybe I am,” he said. Next question.

Lots of voters want someone who can be “tough” on immigration (whatever that means), but bragging, as Romney does, about depriving kids of financial aid because of their heritage, or unequivocally demanding punishment for all illegal aliens regardless of their circumstances, doesn’t seem to fall under the umbrella of “tough.” It’s actually kind of the opposite of “tough.”The impression I’ve gotten from the Republicans is that they seem to be pushing further and further to the extreme on immigration, to the point where in a matter of months, their target audience will consist solely of Tommy Tancredo. It’s bad news, considering he’s voting for himself. The further they push, the more they alienate the nation’s largest minority group and fastest-growing voting bloc, and just as significantly, the weaker the immigration message becomes. This may not come into play in Iowa, where immigration is considered a top issue, but it’ll be interesting to see if McCain’s more practical approach to the topic will spur a shift toward the center from the rest of the field.