Saturday, November 11, 2006

More Tunnel at the End of the Tunnel?

The conventional insta-wisdom holds that a Pelosi-led House clears the way for passage of the Bush-McCain-Kennedy immigration package, including some form of amnesty for illegals. No less a charter of the prevailing tides than amnesty advocate Sheila Jackson Lee happily professed to see “a light at the end of the tunnel” (that’s the tunnel that runs under the border, which Jackson Lee wants to pave and air-condition).

That was the initial fear of Slate’s Mickey Kaus, who pre-election suggested, maybe only half in jest, that Bush might secretly welcome a Democratic majority in the House to pass what would probably be his last signature piece of legislation. But post-election Kaus says the comprehensive package may not be quite the cinch it seems, in light of the positions taken by many winning Democrats (Webb in Virginia, Brown in Ohio). He quotes an “experienced immigration hand”:
What's REALLY important is that of the 27 or 28 seats where a Democrat replaced a Republican, in at least 20, the Democrat ran to the immigration enforcement side of the Republican …
Presumably among that number is Nick Lampson of Texas' 22nd Congressional District, whose position on illegal immigration was essentially the same as that of Chet Edwards, the only Texas Democrat with the proven ability to win in a Republican-leaning district. (Lampson favors the fence and is against amnesty, on the reasoned grounds that it would be unfair to immigrants who’ve made the effort to enter the country legally, and he called for a “crackdown” on illegal-hiring employers, something you don’t hear at much volume from Republican hardlegs on the issue, many of whom prefer to bang on the people being paid 6 bucks an hour.)

We thought Lampson ran a smart campaign, and his spread over the spooky two-faced dermatologist from Clear Lake was a bit wider than we would have figured. Yeah, it’s a Republican district, and Lampson won only because the Republicans couldn’t get anybody on the ballot whose name wasn’t DeLay, but the whole write-in deal didn’t seem to be an insurmountable problem: after all, many of these Republicans wear ties on the job and work with computers and probably could have figured out how to dial in S-H-E-L-L-E-Y etc. without much sweat, if they were so moved, but Lampson deftly petarded Sekula-Gibbs on her own hoist, time and again, on taxes and immigration and abortion, exposing the hypocrisy and opportunism on which her campaign was flimsily built and most likely tamping down the enthusiasm for her in certain quarters (we’re usually not up for giving advice, unless somebody wants to pay us for it, and nobody does, but we’d suggest that Republicans find a better candidate next time).

Lampson’s position on immigration did not escape the notice of the Upper West Side editorialists of the Houston Chronicle, who’ve recently broken new ground in the opinionating racket by inveighing against the racial gimmickry of the “reality” TV show Survivor and calling for a quick cessation to the ache in Yao Ming’s big toe. Several days before the election, the newspaper went out of its way to observe that Lampson, who had the Chronicle endorsement, was among Democratic candidates across the nation who weren’t hewing to their party’s presumed orthodoxy on some issues, like illegal immigration. In a truly bizarre touch near the bottom of the editorial the paper trundled out disgraced state Sen. Mario Gallegos to enforce the party line (and speak for the Chronicle, we guess) by warning that Lampson “weigh this out better.” The editorial concluded:
In the past, Democrats who tried to run as GOP lite against the real thing have had little success. The results Nov. 7 will determine the longevity of the latest political trend.
Time did tell, didn’t it?

(Along those lines, we’d suggest---more free advice here---that in the future Lampson ask that Jackson Lee and her hairpiece refrain from wading on-stage for a victory salute until after the cameras have gone, although we know that’d be like trying to drain the lake with a plastic straw.)

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