- The Washington Times - Monday, July 2, 2007


On the eve of Independence Day, the people of this great republic declared their independence from the United States Senate under the stirring battle-cry, “No legislation without explanation.”

The geniuses who cooked up the “comprehensive” immigration bill’s “grand bargain” behind the scenes in the pork-filled rooms originally planned to ram it through in 48 hours before Memorial Day. And, right to the end, the bipartisan Emirs-for-life of Incumbistan gave the strong impression they regarded it as an affront to be required by the impertinent whippersnappers of the citizenry to address the actual content of the legislation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, dismissed critics of the bill as “racist.” Sen. George Voinovich, Ohio Republican, complained that the peasants had somehow got hold of his phone number and he felt “intimidated.”

Sen. Trenthorn Lotthorn, Lottissippi Republican, said: who cares if they call? They could call 1-800-BLOWHARD (and leave off the “D” for “Deal’s already done”) 24 hours a day and he still wasn’t going to listen to them. “To think that you’re going to intimidate a senator,” he scoffed, “into voting one way or the other by gorging your phones with phone calls — most of whom don’t even know where Gulfport is.” (Gulfport is a port in the Gulf emirate whose grateful people Sultan Trent has ruled o’er lo these many years.)

More artfully, the Democrats’ leader Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, instead of insulting his old base, invented a new one. Among the torrent of calls from racist intimidatory talk-radio listeners who don’t know where Gulfport is, Mr. Reid had somehow managed to get through to the one constituent worth staying on the line for, a man who supports the bill. Who is he? Well, according to the Senator majority leader, his name is, er, “Tommy.”

Tommy Hilfiger? Tommy Lasorda? Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra with vocal refrain by Jo Stafford and the Pied Pipers? Tommy Lee in the director’s cut, where in the hitherto deleted scene right at the end he says to Pamela Anderson, “Sorry, honey, I’d love to carry on for another 20 minutes but I gotta call Sen. Reid in Washington. If you hardworking Canadians are going to do the jobs Americans won’t do, I need to get your X-visa sorted out”?

Ah, but Mr. Reid explained he couldn’t identify the Tommy in question in case he was arrested and deported. This Tommy has to stay “living in the shadows,” like Tommy Lee in the bit where he’s partly obscured by Pamela’s embonpoint. Alas, this heartwarming vignette left many cynics unmoved. On the radio, Laura Ingraham suggested “Tommy” might be entirely fictional and merely Harry Reid’s imaginary friend. I proposed to Laura that “Tommy” might like to start dating John Edwards’ “coatless girl,” whose Dickensian tale of woe figures in every Edwards stump speech: Apparently she goes to sleep shivering every night because her daddy was laid off at the mill and she can’t afford a winter coat. If Tommy and the coatless girl married, he could buy her a coat for $9.99 at Wal-Mart and she could fill in a routine Spousal Application form with U.S. Immigration, which only takes 10 years to process, as opposed to the cumbersome and time-consuming 24-hour instant amnesty visa for seasonal fruit-pickers and seasonal jihadists contained in the Senate bill.

Sen. Trenthorn Lotthorn, meanwhile, thinks America is a nation of goatless girls. They don’t understand goats the way an experienced goat-farmer such as himself does. “If the answer is ‘build a fence,’ ” Sen. Lotthorn declared, “I’ve got two goats on my place in Mississippi. There ain’t no fence big enough, high enough, strong enough, that you can keep those goats in that fence.

“Now people are at least as smart as goats,” the senator told Mario Recio of the Sun Herald. “Maybe not as agile. Build a fence? We should have a virtual fence. Now one of the ways I keep those goats in the fence is I electrified them. Once they got popped a couple of times they quit trying to jump it. I’m not proposing an electrified goat fence,” the Lottly Goatherd added. “I’m just trying; there’s an analogy there.”

By now, his analogy had jumped the fence. But what an awesome monument to the senator’s reign it would be: Hadrian’s Wall, the Great Wall of China, the Great Electrified Goat Fence of the Rio Grande. They would sing songs about it:

Grab your goat and get your hat

Leave your worries on the doorstep

Just direct your feet

To the sunny side of the fence

For “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” this was a much more ominous popular insurrection than the conservative backlash against the president’s nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court. Time and again, the remote insulated emirs were offered the opportunity to rise above their condescension and declined to do so. Sen. John McCain (Maverickistan Republican) confidently asserted that he had worked hard on this bill and knew it better than all these no-account nonentities riled up about it and then had to have it explained to him — by bloggers on a conference call — that he had misunderstood a key provision of his own legislation: There was no requirement for illegal immigrants to pay back taxes. Their amnesty would come tax-free. Blustering senators who claimed to have drafted this thing had to be told what was in it by critics who had actually taken the trouble to look at it.

Immigration isn’t going away: Human capital is the great issue facing all advanced societies. But it’s unbecoming for a mature democracy to discuss a critical matter in such a fraudulent way. It’s insulting to tell people that to oppose this bill is to oppose border enforcement.

There are immigration laws on the books right now, and they are flouted with impunity by “sanctuary cities,” states and the federal government itself. The political class tells us a nation on permanent “orange alert” at ports of entry can’t enforce its borders, and a broken immigration bureaucracy that can’t process existing levels of applicants can reliably handle another 20 million.

If the senators have any sense of why they lost, they’ll learn their lesson. But initial indications are not encouraging. Predicting victory, Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, declared gravely and portentously that “the will of the Senate” would prevail. And that’s what matters, isn’t it? As the rebel colonists cried all those years ago, “No legislation without self-congratulation.”

Happy Independence Day.

Mark Steyn is the senior contributing editor for Hollinger Inc. Publications, senior North American columnist for Britain’s Telegraph Group, North American editor for the Spectator, and a nationally syndicated columnist.

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