Tuesday, July 24, 2007

John Hawkins has posted an interview with Sen. DeMint (R-SC), one of the leading critics of the "grand bargain" immigration bill. DeMint names 5 R's as early opponents of the "bargain": himself, Coburn, Cornyn, Sessions, and Vitter. He also praises Dole and Bunning as opponents of the bill. DeMint's skeptical about some of the piecemeal immigration measures (e.g. the DREAM Act). He offers some analysis of the reasons for the seeming collapse of the "grand bargain":

John Hawkins: Now let me ask you: they went through this whole rigmarole with the clay pigeon strategy. I was shocked that so many Republicans were willing to go along with that because it set such an incredibly negative precedent, where you've got the Republican leadership and Democratic leadership getting together to roll Republicans....

Jim DeMint: I think there's no question about it, that was a bad precedent. I was surprised that some of our folks were willing to go along with that, but the fact is that the clay pigeon is what actually killed the thing before it was over. ...Trying to use a procedure like the clay pigeon backed them in a corner that they couldn't get out of and it allowed us to stop them from passing amendments that people wanted for cover. That's really what it came down to. They wanted to pass some amendments that made it look like they were tough. But, when we didn't let them pass those amendments, they were exposed and they ended up having to vote against the bill.

John Hawkins: Now let me ask you -- I think I know the answer to this but, I'd love to hear it from you and I think my readers would, too -- why do you think so many Republicans supported a bill that seemed so obviously to be wildly unpopular?

Jim DeMint: Well, ...I think a lot of Republicans...tried to solve a problem and they were thinking in the beginning that we could get good enforcement and workplace verification in return for giving Kennedy his amnesty...and they were going to have fines and penalties so it didn't look like amnesty. So, I think they thought Americans might buy that and I don't think anyone had guessed that Americans would respond so strongly because last year, the Senate passed a bill that was worse with not nearly the public response.

But, I think what's happened is that it's more than immigration. This was a lack of trust of government and it has grown. It has grown because of Katrina, it has grown because of the war in Iraq, it has grown because we said we were going to build a fence and protect our border and we didn't do it. So, people just were not going to be taken again and they made their opinions known and I just think a lot of (senators) who got on this ship had no idea it had such a big hole in the bottom, because the ship was going down fast (laughs).