This post originally appeared at NationalMemo.com.
All signs continue to point to a House GOP crackup that will either lead to a government shutdown or — even worse — a default on America’s debt.
Republican leaders had hoped that the situation in Syria would give them cover, allowing them to somehow keep the government functioning while ignoring many of the big legislative issues the House still has to tackle this year. That doesn’t look as if it will happen.
Instead, the clouds are clearing and what’s left is a Republican caucus that’s divided between justifiably declaring victory over the sequester and the incredibly shrinking deficit — it’s down over one-third in just a year — and Tea Partiers who really want to force a crisis over delaying or defunding Obamacare, a position that’s popular among far-right congressmembers, along with Ted Cruz’s fan club and family — and pretty much no one else.
But the budget battles aren’t the only looming crises for the GOP. Immigration reform and the implementation of Obamacare present historic choices for both parties that will have implications for presidential elections as far as the eye can see.
And all of this is happening as Speaker John Boehner has become the “Speaker In Name Only,” whose plots and schemes are continually rejected by his own members.
Even if we weren’t on the verge of a war, the rest of 2013 will be a perilous time for America. Republicans have to decide if they are a party so obsessed with what they oppose that they’ll damage America and wound their ability to accomplish their agenda in the future.
Here are five ways the GOP could be about to hurt themselves in ways they won’t be able to easily fix.
In an effort to reshape the debate over immigration reform, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus harshly criticized Mitt Romney’s self-deportation comments from the 2012 GOP primary while speaking to reporters on Thursday, approximately a year and a half too late to do any good.
Republican leaders have long feared the current dialogue could doom the party with Latino voters in a repeat of the 2007 reform effort, which was shut down by a revolt by the GOP base.
“Using the word ‘self-deportation’ — it’s a horrific comment to make,” Priebus said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with our party. When someone makes those comments, obviously, it hurts us.”
“The answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here because they don’t have legal documentation to allow them to work here,” Romney said during the Florida debate held shortly after he lost the South Carolina primary to Newt Gingrich. “And so we’re not going to round people up.”
Priebus defended the progress his party has made with Latino voters since the release of the so-called GOP autopsy. He also ripped comments by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who has continually offered comments offensive to Latino voters followed by stern defenses of those comments.
“Well, of course, it’s hurtful,” Priebus said, in reference to King’s comment that for every undocumented valedictorian there were hundreds of drug smugglers with calves the size of cantaloupes. “Of course, it hurts. … Just, not good.”
King is the public face of the war against reform, and he insists he’s speaking for many members who don’t want to come forward, a claim that makes sense as House Republicans overwhelmingly supported his recent bill to deport undocumented young people.
The congressman recently said that a “spell” has been cast over his party on the issue of immigration, which The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent sees as a positive sign for the immigration reform debate.
The Senate passed immigration reform in the spring with more than two-thirds supporting the bill. The House GOP has refused to consider the Senate’s plan and is weighing how to proceed with reform in a way that can get the support of a majority of the Republican caucus, which is Speaker John Boehner’s stated standard for bringing any legislation to the floor.
There has been relatively little backlash from the Republican base about reform over the August recess, meanwhile, several House Republicans — including Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Aaron Schock (R-IL) and Dan Webster (R-FL) — have made positive statements for reform that include a “path to citizenship,” which is a key demand of many reform advocates.
Passing immigration reform was the one specific policy recommendation in Priebus’ autopsy. Many of the GOP’s most prominent donors, including Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers, want reform. However, most House Republicans — who primarily come from safe, white districts — don’t seem to be feeling the pressure.
By calling out comments of his fellow Republicans, Priebus may not be able to make reform happen. But he’s hoping to keep it from getting ugly — or, at least, uglier.
Georgia Republican congressman Paul Broun believes that evolution, embryology, and the Big Bang theory are all lies straight from the pit of hell — an opinion that eminently qualifies him to serve as a Republican member of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise to discover that he’s also a first-class fear-mongering anti-immigration xenophobe. It’s just part of the total GOP package these days.
Georgia Republican congressman and Senate candidate Paul Broun has hardly hid his opposition to creating a new immigration policies. Back in June, for instance, he warned that immigration reform would “destroy our country” and “destroy our Constitution and limited government.”
Speaking with Steve Malzberg earlier this week, Broun repeated his warning that if the House GOP compromises at all on immigration, “America, economically, is doomed because we cannot afford to put these people on government largesse.”
If you can’t see the MP4 video, click below:
Tea Party Speaker at Anti-Immigrant Rally: “You Can’t Breed Secretariat to a Donkey and Win the Kentucky Derby”
The Nation’s George Zornick reports: Ugly Opposition to Immigration Reform Comes Back to Capitol Hill.
Ken Crow, who used to be president of Tea Party of America until he bungled logistics of a Sarah Palin speech and is now affiliated with Tea Party Community, got up and started talking about “well-bred Americans.”
Here is some video of what followed, in which he made a straightforward case for racial purity. (Apologies for the quality; I didn’t anticipate something that crazy to about be said and so I wasn’t well-positioned. But the audio should be clear.)
From those incredible blood lines of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and John Smith. And all these great Americans, Martin Luther King. These great Americans who built this country. You came from them. And the unique thing about being from that part of the world, when you learn about breeding, you learn that you cannot breed Secretariat to a donkey and expect to win the Kentucky Derby. You guys have incredible DNA and don’t forget it.
Not only was this said in the presence of hundreds of people on Capitol Hill, but many important Republican politicians were present. Senator Jeff Sessions, who helped lead the opposition to the immigration bill in the Senate, was directly behind me, glad-handing attendees, as I shot this video. Congressman Steve King, who is taking up Session’s mantle in the House, was also there. Both men spoke (Sessions is the keynote), and Senator Ted Cruz is also on the roster. The rally was promoted by major conservative media figures like Laura Ingraham.
In other words, the rally and its place on the political landscape is impossible to ignore. Last month, another hard-right rally featured Representative Michele Bachmann holding up a white baby and talking about the “future of America”—not quite as explicit, but mainly a difference in degree.
Religious right caveman Bryan Fischer is very concerned about the hordes of dusky-skinned savages who would pour into America if we ever enact immigration reform, but he’s not just complaining; Mr. Fischer has a solution, and that solution is “procreation,” ladies. His advice to conservatives: “Get busy.”
“The whole argument for immigration is, ‘We got to get workers.’ Why? Because native-born Americans simply are not reproducing at rates fast enough to increase the population. So we know what we need to do. Let’s get busy.”
I will leave you, gentle reader, with the horrifying image of Bryan Fischer “getting busy.”