Damning The Jam Down: The GOP Senate's Collective Contempt For Its Base

Posted: May 18, 2007 12:00 AM
Damning The Jam Down:  The GOP Senate's Collective Contempt For Its Base

Here's John McCain's decree, announced yesterday:

This is the first step. We can and must complete this legislation sooner rather than later. We all know that this issue can be caught up in extracurricular politics unless we move forward as quickly as possible. This is a product of a long hard trail of negotiation, and I am sure that there are certain provisions that each of us would not agree with, but this is what the legislative process is all about, this is what bipartisanship is all about when there is a requirement for this nation and its security that transcends party lines. I am proud to have been a small part of it.

Meet the new McCain, just like the old McCain. As with McCain-Feingold, the Gang of 14, McCain-Kennedy 1.0 and his duet with Lindsey Graham of last fall on the treatment and trial of terrorists bill, Senator McCain is back and doing his best impersonation of Al Haig.

But for some unknown reason, the GOP Senate leadership seems willing to allow the Arizona would-be president to take them all over the falls.

For all of those unfamiliar with McCain-speak, here's the translation of what McCain decreed:

Deal's done. I am the guy. I made it happen. My opinion mattered, not yours. What I do in the middle of a campaign for president has nothing to do with politics. My critics are all motivated by politics. Since I have already made up my mind, no debate is necessary, so shut up. Republicans especially shut up. This is how things get done in D.C.: You roll over for Democrats. And by the way, cutting half the fence and leaving the other half subject to the whims of the anti-border security bureaucracy equals protecting national security, just like the Gang of 14 was good for the confirmation process and McCain-Feingold good for the First Amendment. So, if you didn't hear me the first time: Shut up. Sit down. I'm your nominee.

The idea that a secret bill of huge importance and around which there is extraordinary public interest, and one not yet even fully drafted, could be introduced on Monday and through the Senate in less than two weeks is repugnant to the idea of representative democracy. No matter where one finds themselves on the spectrum of views regarding the amnesty-lite bill, the process this year has been behind closed doors and without any opportunity for the public to see, read, debate and inform their representatives of their views. Of all the mistakes made in this process, the attempt to pull a jam down is the worst as it involves not merely some bad decisions and a lousy bill, but a repulsive attitude of contempt towards the voters who elected the senators. Can you imagine an Oregon border security activist ever voting for Gordon Smith if he or she isn't even given the time of day by the senator? The same holds true for every other Republican up for re-election in 2008.

Senators aren't even willing to go home to face their constituents before passing this cave-in on to the House.

Senators may be counting on the year-and-a-half between now and the voting to dim the memory of the jam down. Perhaps that's what Mike DeWine was counting on when he signed on to John McCain's Gang of 14. I don't know what Mike DeWine is doing these days, but as anyone who followed Ohio politics last year, the Gang of 14 hadn't faded from a lot of conservative voter's minds when DeWine lost his re-election bid. "That was because of the war," will come the reply. Believe that if you want to, but the angry reaction to the Gang of 14 plagued DeWine throughout '06, just as the even greater anger about this jam down will plague John Sununu, Norm Coleman, and even the very safe Mitch McConnell as well as every other GOPer on the ballot..

Since McCain-Kennedy 2.0 is so warmly received by the Democrats, its memory will motivate and encourage their base. Every discussion of immigration throughout the next year-and-a-half will, for conservatives, remind them of the Senate Republicans' contempt for their views and of the half-fence and the social security benefits for years worked illegally in the country. No Republican candidate, not even the conservatives of long-standing with excellent records on border security, will be free of the label elitist because this jam down is so bald, the disregard for the base so completely on display.

I interviewed Jon Kyl and Duncan Hunter yesterday, the only two elected officials willing to come on the program to discuss the fiasco that is unfolding. Hunter is of course opposed, and Senator Kyl is asking people to wait until they see the bill before criticizing it. After the interview I thought of the obvious reply to that: Why wait to criticize that which hasn't been written when John McCain has not only embraced it but decreed that it will pass quickly before debate slows it down.

The attempt by John McCain to put a gag order on the GOP caucus and its base should be the first reason why Senate Republicans should reject this bill. The leadership obviously underestimated the impact this stunt and these provisions would have on their supporters, but now they have a fiasco on their hands and the only way to resurrect the situation is to have Senator McConnell declare that the GOP insists on being able to wait until the bill is fully available on line and for the senators to go home to gage reaction and get input before moving forward with a decision on whether to filibuster it or not.

At a minimum they must move to amend the bill to get all 854 miles of fence built which were authorized last year, and built before the first grant of amnesty occurs. The physical fence is the outward manifestation of an inward conviction to respect the will of the people. The rhetoric about virtual fence is understood --rightly or wrongly but with certainty-- to be a ruse, a suspicion greatly increased by the attempt to run this jam down of an unwritten bill. Other, only slightly less compelling priorities include the refusal to subsidize the years spent working illegally in this country via a grant of Social Security benefits for those periods, and the publication of the employer sanctions proposed. That we cannot evaluate these provisions because they aren't decided upon underscores the nature of McCain's contempt for the voters.

Here is all the contact information for the Republican Senators. Call and e-mail each and demand the right to at least read the bill before the cave-in occurs.

Alexander, Lamar- (TN) (202) 224-4944

Allard, Wayne- (CO) (202) 224-5941

Bennett, Robert F.- (R - UT) (202) 224-5444

Bond, Christopher S.- (MO) (202) 224-5721

Brownback, Sam- (KS) (202) 224-6521

Bunning, Jim- (KY) (202) 224-4343

Burr, Richard- (NC) (202) 224-3154

Chambliss, Saxby- (R - GA) (202) 224-3521

Coburn, Tom- (OK) (202) 224-5754

Cochran, Thad- (MS) (202) 224-5054

Coleman, Norm- (MN) (202) 224-5641

Collins, Susan M.- (ME) (202) 224-2523

Corker, Bob- (TN) (202) 224-3344

Cornyn, John- (TX) (202) 224-2934

Craig, Larry E.- (ID) (202) 224-2752

Crapo, Mike- (ID) (202) 224-6142

DeMint, Jim- (SC) (202) 224-6121

Dole, Elizabeth- (NC) (202) 224-6342

Domenici, Pete V.- (NM) (202) 224-6621

Ensign, John- (NV) (202) 224-6244

Enzi, Michael B.- (WY) (202) 224-3424

Graham, Lindsey- (SC) (202) 224-5972

Grassley, Chuck- (IA) (202) 224-3744

Gregg, Judd- (NH) (202) 224-3324

Hagel, Chuck- (NE) (202) 224-4224

Hatch, Orrin G.- (UT) (202) 224-5251

Hutchison, Kay Bailey- (TX) (202) 224-5922

Inhofe, James M.- (OK) (202) 224-4721

Isakson, Johnny- (GA) (202) 224-3643

Kyl, Jon- (AZ) (202) 224-4521

Lott, Trent- (MS) (202) 224-6253

Lugar, Richard G.- (IN) (202) 224-4814

Martinez, Mel- (FL) (202) 224-3041

McCain, John- (AZ) (202) 224-2235

McConnell, Mitch- (KY) (202) 224-2541

Murkowski, Lisa- (AK) (202) 224-6665

Roberts, Pat- (KS) (202) 224-4774

Sessions, Jeff- (AL) (202) 224-4124

Shelby, Richard C.- (AL) (202) 224-5744

Smith, Gordon H.- (OR) (202) 224-3753

Snowe, Olympia J.- (ME) (202) 224-5344

Specter, Arlen- (PA) (202) 224-4254

Stevens, Ted- (AK) (202) 224-3004

Sununu, John E.- (NH) (202) 224-2841

Thomas, Craig- (WY) (202) 224-6441

Thune, John- (SD) (202) 224-2321

Vitter, David- (LA) (202) 224-4623

Voinovich, George V.- (OH) (202) 224-3353

Warner, John- (VA) (202) 224-2023