A couple of weeks ago, Texas Governor and Republican Presidential hopeful Rick Perry renewed interest in the term “oops” when he stumbled on a debate question concerning his tax and spending plan. Prior to Perry’s gaffe, another candidate for the Republican Presidential ticket, Herman Cain, fell from grace when allegations of sexual harassment became public. Cain hastened his tumble with eleven seconds of silence following a reporter’s question about President Obama’s handling of the recent Libyan situation. Now Republican front runner Newt Gingrich has stepped in it by stating, without reservation, his position on amnesty for illegal immigrants. For the record, Newt does not call what he is proposing amnesty but, if it walks like a duck. . ..
The situation that Gingrich finds himself in is difficult to say the least. Illegal immigration is the new third rail of politics. Candidates want the conservative vote, the independent vote and the immigrant vote. That isn’t doable from the middle of the swamp so what is Newt thinking?
What he may have done is roll the dice. His proposal to provide a pathway to legal residency but not citizenship may be more to do with robbing the Democrats of a talking point. No one on the left can now accuse Gingrich of being anti immigrant.
The gamble is the amount of backlash his idea will generate from conservatives. If Tim Albrecht, deputy chief of staff to Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is any barometer of the political right, it may be a long shot that won’t pay off. Albrecht believes the former Speaker has done himself “significant harm . . . on immigration among caucus and primary voters.” There is even talk of a “Perry plunge.”
The issue of what to do with the millions of illegal immigrants now within America’s borders makes the Social Security debate look easy. Both parties have repeatedly failed to take action because winning votes always trumps securing the homeland. The right thing originally was to build walls and patrol the border with every tool available from drones to cameras to computer technology and heavily armed law enforcement officers. The priority should be the safety of the homeland not holding on to power at any and all costs.
Newt Gingrich is a smart guy but winning this one will be difficult. Either way he angers one group or another. Newt’s plan sounds “humane” as he calls it. Common sense says there is no way to deport eleven million illegals. Therefore it seems reasonable to do something to keep families together. The down side is that the eleven or so million immigrants will grow to more millions. You cannot grant residency to one spouse then say the other spouse and children will not be allowed to join them in America.
Newt’s plan is to unite families but it can also divide them. At the very least it is ruffling feathers among the very voters he needs to win the nomination and the presidency. But if the status quo remains, the problem then continues to worsen and tragedy waits at the end of that road.
Gingrich is neither wholly right nor wrong in his position. He is gutsy to take a stand and that has to count for something. What he must quickly do is fine tune his plan and explain it more convincingly to both current and now former supporters. In other words he has to learn to dance.
If anyone can turn “oops” into high five it is the very skilled Speaker Newt Gingrich.