If I were a Republican, I wouldn’t be especially optimistic about putting Mel Martinez in as RNC Chair as a strategy “intended to appeal to disaffected Latino voters.” The thing about “Latino voters” is that this isn’t a very meaningful category. Republicans don’t have a problem with Cuban-Americans, and Martinez is from Cuba. Now, it’s true that Martinez favors liberalized immigration rules, which really might help the GOP with more problematic ethnic groups. But, of course, what got the GOP in trouble was that the party, notwithstanding George W. Bush’s sentiments, in fact does not favor liberalizing immigration rules. That’s not a something voters concerned with this issue are confused about, it’s actually the case that while Bush and some other Republicans have lax immigration views, the bulk of the party follows a restrictionist line.
The big picture issues aside, though, this does still leave me wondering about the pure ethnic pandering issue here. Do they really not see that you can’t give jobs to Cubans as a way of appealing to Mexican-Americans? That the two political communities are completely different in terms of demographics, voting behavior, issue concerns, etc. I thought there was a crack political machine lurking somewhere in the White House.