EJ Dionne runs down the atmosphere of fear and dread in Democratic circles that being painted as soft on illegal immigration will wreck the party’s fortunes. My sense is that a lot of folks in town are furrowing their brows trying to think of a way to thread the policy needle here. What I wonder is whether these concerned couldn’t be effectively blunted with cheap political rhetoric and a minor dose of dishonesty. How hard is it, really, to just say something like “the Bush Republicans have had eight years to get the borders under control and things just get worse and worse; from Katrina to Iraq to no-bid contracts back to immigration these guys can’t do anything right.”
That doesn’t really mean anything, sure, but insofar as the goal is just to muddy the waters and prevent public outrage from overwhelming everything else it seems viable to me. In general, it shouldn’t be easy for the GOP to ride in on a wave of outrage at their own party’s inability to enforce immigration law. Sure, Bush actually broke with his party over this, but professional ad men exist to confuse people about this kind of nuance.