The Republicans are turning up the heat. They've launched a full-scale assault on President Obama's Latino support. They're attacking him on the economy and immigration. Some are even calling him "the most anti-immigrant president" ever. It might work. At least with Hispanics who don't know the whole truth.
At a gathering of conservative Latinos in Nevada, a key battleground state in the general election race, speaker after speaker last week lashed the president for a litany of perceived ills. Chief among them: his inability to get immigration reform passed.
As the Las Vegas Sun reported it:
"It's time to say, 'Enough with the lies, you failed us on immigration reform, and you are the most anti-immigrant president in the history of the United States,'" said Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.
That's a strong statement. But it ignores the fact that the real reason the president "failed" to get immigration reform passed is because Republicans hauled out their nuclear option to block it. When the Democratic majority in the House passed the DREAM act in 2010, the Republicans filibustered. That means they kept talking -- about anything they wanted to -- to keep the bill from coming up for a vote.
It's sort of Washington's version of little kids covering their ears and yelling "Nyah! Nyah! Nyah! Nyah! I can't hear you!" until the other side gives up in frustration.
The only way to stop it is with 60 out of 100 Senators agreeing on a vote for "cloture." In short, three-fifths have to say, "Shut up!"
Problem is, on a political hot-potato like immigration reform, divided along party lines, getting 60 Senators to step up to stop the stalling tactic has about as much chance of happening as having Mitt Romney's "maybe" immigration adviser, Kris Kobach, suddenly decide he was wrong to create the kind of "show us your papers if you look 'illegal'" laws that have cops in Alabama locking up Mercedes Benz executives for not having the proper documentation.
Yep, that really happened. Kobach is widely recognized as the "architect" of the draconian Arizona-, Alabama- and South Carolina-style laws that require -- yes, require! -- cops to demand immigration documentation from anyone they suspect of not being a U.S. citizen.
The crack investigative techniques used for determining that include, in Arizona for example, "passengers appeared nervous or avoided eye contact; passengers had strong smell of body odor, and passengers had no luggage or personal belongings in the car."
After one of the Kobach-style laws passed in Alabama, a cop doing his duty stopped a visiting German manager because his rental car was missing a tag. When all he could produce was his German identification card, the cop arrested him.
So, anyway, Republicans blaming Obama for failing to pass immigration reform is more than a little disingenuous. How can they keep a straight face when they were the ones who blocked it?
The economy is squishier. And probably a much bigger problem for Obama.
Things aren't good. No doubt. The recovery is agonizingly slow, and sputtering. Europe's problems and slowdowns in China and India are weighing us down.
The president says the Great Recession was brought on by a Republican administration. He's right. The Republicans say he's had 3-1/2 years to fix things. They're right. Blaming the old administration is getting a bit stale.
In fairness, though, we were on the brink of a depression when Obama took office. General Motors was teetering, on the brink of collapse. The Republicans are attacking him for the federal stimulus. But no one questions that it kept General Motors from going under. Now it's the No. 1 automaker in the world.
In all, the Congressional Budget Office credits the stimulus with creating or saving somewhere between 1.3 million and 3.6 million jobs.
And, in the 22 months building up this year's State of the Union address, the private sector added 3.16 million jobs.
The Republicans say, "That's it? That's all you've done? What about the millions who are still out of work?" Unemployment crept up again last month, to 8.2 percent for the population as a whole. It climbed to 11 percent for Hispanics. They're right again. That's not good. But both numbers are the lowest they've been since February 2009, Obama's first full month in office.
(Some point out that it was 7.8 percent in January 2009. That's true. But Obama didn┐t take office until that month was almost over, on Jan. 20.)
Most unbiased analysts won't give any president credit or blame for the numbers during his first year in office -- because none of his policies would have had a chance to have any impact.
Using that measure, unemployment climbed steadily during Obama's first year, to 10.0 percent in December 2009. Then started dropping -- and has steadily ever since! Until this latest month, when it ticked up a notch from 8.1 to 8.2.
As for the Hispanic rate hitting 11 percent, the Republicans are right. It's up. But it's still down from February 2009, when it was 11.1 percent.
That's still pretty stagnant. Mitt Romney says the president should have done better. The president counters that Republicans blocked him on his jobs bill, which would have created even more.
Who knows who's right?
One thing is for certain, the blame game doesn't fix things. Neither does rewriting history, blaming Obama for things Republicans blocked and hoping Latinos don't remember the real story.
The people playing politics on both sides might want to remember the words of the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln: "You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."
That's true of Hispanic people, too.
Source: Terra/Carlos Harrison