Senator John Cornyn and Karl Rove were in East Texas on Monday to discuss immigration at a panel sponsored by the Texas Employers for Immigration Reform.
It's interesting to watch Rove's moves on immigration. As a political strategist, he's always happy to have a wedge issue to focus voters and the media on something besides the president's shredding of the constitution or his own close calls with justice. But the immigration issue has backfired on the GOP. It's red meat to their base, and at the same time, backlash from the increasingly virulent rhetoric surrounding this issue threatens to undermine a decade of improving relations between the GOP and Latino voters. If the GOP pushes for laws that would please the anti-immigration base of the party, it would also alienate the business world and its funding base, who argue that without immigrant labor, their businesses would shut down.
So the Republicans have been trying to have it both ways - paying homage to the anti-immigrant wing in theory while catering to the corporate world in practice. If you have any doubt about how hard it is to walk that tightrope, take a look at the feedback that Cornyn and Rove received on the right-wing blogs covering the East Texas Panel.
Cornyn was pillaged for suggesting that immigration policy should be left to the federal government, but the biggest backlash came over Rove's comments regarding the question of deportation.
If you think we can take 5 percent of our work force and throw them out, you're kidding yourself," Rove said. "We would suffer serious economic damage. There's a moral cost. There's a practical cost."
Here is the response from a Lone Star Times commenter to Rove's quote.
What Cornyn and Rove mean is: “Monied GOP interests need cheap labor to exploit, so we have to consider the ‘economic’ impact.” Let’s at least tell it like it is.
As with so many other issues that can only be solved through complicated, "nuanced" policies, (think global warming or mideast peace) the GOP doesn't really want to solve this problem. So the best they can do is send the former deputy chief of staff out to try to soften the worst of the rhetoric and hope that the blow-back isn't too bad. And maybe they can blame it all on the Democrats. So far no one seems to be buying it.