John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Kristol is Wrong, And It Ain’t the First Time

Posted on January 30, 2014
By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0,

By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0,

I like Bill Kristol and I think he generally has some informed opinions on most subjects.

But he is not infallible.

He was an early and eager proponent of Sarah Palin, for example.

He believed that Dan Quayle would be a good President.

He is also too neo-conish for my taste. He pushed hard for the Iraq War, and if he had his way, we would be dropping bombs on Iran yesterday.

Kristol has come out hard against immigration reform.

In that opposition, he joins Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, some of the folks at the National Review, the Drudge Report and the Daily Caller.

There is a reason that Limbaugh, Levin, the Drudge Report, the Daily Caller, the National Review and now, the Weekly Standard, all are against immigration reform.

They all want the same thing: to expand and excite their key audiences.

I always put Kristol in a difference category from the rest of those other folks, because I think he smarter than the average bear and he knows the political and policy reasons for doing immigration reform this year.

Kristol, given his family background, is no nativist. He understands how important immigrants have been to building up this country and how important it is to fix a broken system.

And yet, there was Kristol on Morning Joe, saying this:
“Just let immigration go this year. It's not an issue of urgency, it can be passed next year. A better immigration bill can be passed by a Republican House and a Republican Senate, perhaps next year. You have no leverage in this debate if you go to conference with this bill that passed the Democratic Senate … The Republican establishment, the Republican consultant class in Washington, and big business really want immigration reform, and they may try to jam it down the throats of actual Republican grassroots this year, and I think it's the one thing that could actually cost Republicans the Senate.”

Let me take these arguments on one by one.

  1. First, this is an urgent issue. The system is profoundly broken and it is causing disruption to the economy right now. Talented people are being forced to leave America after they graduate from the top universities because of our broken system and that has a profound impact on our competitiveness.

  2. A better immigration bill will not be passed by a Republican House and a Republican Senate next year. Instead, if a bill is not passed this year, the issue will activate millions of voters to come out against Republicans this year, making it harder for the GOP to capture the Senate.

  3. Republicans have all of the leverage right now. John Boehner has his conference firmly under his control for the first time and he has outlined a smart approach that gives him the final say on how this bill will look, much more leverage than he will have next year.

  4. Yes, some elements of the Republican establishment (whatever that is) and some lobbyists (yes, I am a lobbyist), and some other political strategists want this done and yes they live in the Washington DC area. But far more important is what members are hearing back home from farmers, manufacturers, small business owners, Church leaders and law enforcement officials. And these folks back home are saying fix the broken system and get these people out of the shadows and into civil society.

  5. Not one Republican will lose a general election because they voted to fix the broken immigration system, and I can see how several Republicans will actually be helped in their elections by voting for it. Yes, some Republicans (although very few in my estimation) might face a primary challenge because of such a vote, but in those districts where that happens, the seat will most likely stay in GOP hands no matter what the result.

My old boss, Denny Hastert, used to always say that you should never punt when you get down to your opponent’s 20 yard line. That’s the time to score.

Republicans are better off scoring on immigration reform this year. Fixing the broken system is not only the smart thing to do politically. It is also the right thing to do from a policy perspective.

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