Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's all about Harry

So Harry Reid's gambit to pass both the DREAM Act and the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell failed. And the Defense Authorization bill while we're at war is still unpassed. But hey, don't worry - Harry Reid got his talking point to use with Hispanics in Nevada. It's all about Harry. When he loses Susan Collins due to his obnoxious politicking, you know he's offending his colleagues. And even his Democratic friends are sick of it.
But what he got was a failed vote and a mix of frustration and disappointment from the people he was trying to help. The stalled defense authorization bill — one of the last major Senate votes before November’s elections — was emblematic of the Nevada senator’s struggles to cut deals with the GOP while still pleasing core Democratic constituencies.

The disappointment was widespread.

Gay rights groups were upset that the process Reid employed may have undermined progress in repealing the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy prohibiting gays from serving openly in the military.

Hispanic groups were disappointed that they couldn’t even get a vote on a narrow piece of comprehensive immigration reform — an amendment known as the DREAM Act that would have enabled citizenship for illegal immigrant students in exchange for government or military service.

And Democrats on both sides of the Capitol are unhappy that a debate on gay rights and immigration distracted yet again from issue No. 1: jobs.

“The issue for me has always been jobs,” said Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.). “That’s the issue. How do we put people back to work?”

Republicans, outside groups and even some Democrats saw a more personal motive for Reid, suggesting that he was merely looking out for his own troubled reelection interests by forcing votes that were certain to be defeated. Critics said he was trying to energize Hispanics and gays — but quickly deflect and blame Republicans for the filibuster that stalled the defense bill.

“This is about Reid’s reelect,” said a senior House Democratic aide. “Anything that isn’t focused on jobs right now is unhelpful to the House.”

Indeed, for Reid to win in Nevada, he’ll need to energize Democrats in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas and has a heavy Hispanic population.
Hey, Harry Reid doesn't care if he did damage to issues that he supports and if he hurt Democrats who are trying to get on the same page as the rest of the country and talk about the economy. He had two bills that have bipartisan support and could have been passed if he'd brought them up separately. And if they were so important, he could have brought them up any time in the past year and a half. If the Democrats really had wanted to give illegal immigrant children the possibility of earning citizenship by going to college or joining the military, an idea that I could support as could probably a majority in the Senate, why didn't he bring it up when he had a filibuster-proof Senate? Those Hispanic voters in Nevada that Reid wants to save his job should be asking him that. They should ask why he held their bill hostage to his political fortunes. As the WSJ writes,
The Dream Act would give illegal immigrant children who have been here long enough to graduate from high school a shot at U.S. citizenship if they also attend college or serve in the military. The bill's previous versions has had bipartisan support. As a policy matter we have no problem with giving young children who were brought to the U.S. by their parents and have lived here for years a way to earn legal status. Attending college or serving in the U.S. military sounds about right to us.

But no such honorable compromise was Senator Reid's goal. He knew that six weeks before a midterm election in which Republicans are expected to make large gains, the GOP understandably would have little appetite for casting a volatile immigration vote that could cost the party seats.

Democrats have had two years to deal with immigration reform. Mr. Reid's gambit with the Dream Act is more evidence that Democrats are mainly interested in using immigration as a cudgel against political opponents. They will now spin yesterday's vote as evidence that the GOP is anti-immigrant and obscure the fact that President Obama never made good on his own promise to make immigration reform a priority.
This was never about giving those immigrant children a chance. He's made it clear that he won't really try to help those whose support he's counting on. He would rather keep the issue out there so he can use it in an election. It was all about Reid's cynical ploy for votes. He's the one who should be truly shamed about how he manipulated the reform so that it couldn't pass.