What’s Hurting the GOP More? Immigration or Limbaugh? (UPDATED)
Rush Limbaugh and others of his kind in the media may be about the worst enemies Republicans have these days apart from themselves.
… Comments from Boehner and other Republicans suggesting movement on immigration reform reflect broad fears within the party that it is cutting itself off from the fast-growing constituency.
Warning signs for Republicans in terms of its future with Hispanic voters could be found not only in the election’s results but in exit polls that found Romney tied Obama even among Cuban Americans in Florida, who have traditionally been a strong GOP constituency.
But comments from rank-and-file Republicans and Rush Limbaugh — the only conservative talker with more listeners than Hannity —reflected the continued deep divisions in the GOP over how to handle immigration…
… Limbaugh played “Feliz Navidad” on his show Friday and argued Hispanics are moving to Democrats not because of immigration but because of the party’s positions on taxes and welfare. Allowing those in the United States illegally to stay wouldn’t help the party, he argued.
“You can’t beat Santa Claus with amnesty,” tweeted Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), referencing Limbaugh’s description of Obama as Santa Claus and Democrats as the “party of free stuff.”
The fight within the party is likely to play out further next week when lawmakers return to Washington for the lame-duck session….The Hill
In general, I think it’s worth keeping an eye on the most extreme Republicans — in government and in the media. That’s where the action is going to be as the GOP goes through a major internal battle which, if the country is in luck, will be long and painful and sufficiently disabling to keep them out of power until we rescue our economy, the Supreme Court, and the House from their depredations.
UPDATE by JG: The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf puts Limbaugh under the microscope on this issue as well. Here are two key chunks of his post:
Just what is it that Republicans like Limbaugh have to do? Here are a few useful changes that the most popular conservative entertainer in America could make to stop turning off so many black voters:
1) Stop saying things like, “Why doesn’t the Republican Party get credit for Condoleezza Rice?”
2) Stop the shameless race-baiting, like telling listeners, “Obama’s America, white kids getting beat up on school buses now. You put your kids on a school bus, you expect safety but in Obama’s America the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, ‘Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on,’ and, of course, everybody says the white kid deserved it, he was born a racist, he’s white.”
3) Understand that when you commission a song called “Barack the Magic Negro” for your radio show, the average black person is going to take offense. And that if you pretend to be surprised when they do take offense, no one will believe you.
4) If you (or any other famous conservative) gets a gig doing commentary for a professional football league, probably best not to use the forum to air your pet theories about how the media coddles black quarterbacks because it is made up of guilty whites who want them to succeed.
5) Another thing you probably shouldn’t say is, “Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.” Admittedly, you didn’t say this on an NFL telecast, but it’s actually offensive in any setting.
6) Any gains you may make in the black community may be jeopardized if you once again muse, “Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?”
7) As you try to understand Obama’s presidency on your show, it may be a good idea to avoid reading pieces with titles like “Obama, The African Colonial” aloud, then concluding that Obama is “more African in his roots than he is American” and is “behaving like an African colonial despot.”
8) Given your track-record of quotes like the ones previously discussed, it’s probably best to avoid jokes such as, “Barack Obama has picked up another endorsement: Halfrican-American actress Halle Berry.”
9) When a black politician makes an earnest attempt to grapple with race in America, it’s perfectly fine to disagree with substantive points that he makes, but certain kinds of demagogic reactions might be unwise.
It would still be prudent for conservatives to take some advice that seems blindingly obvious, but apparently isn’t: Stop letting prominent voices of movement conservatism get away with saying things that are a) actually just racist; b) demagogic race-baiting; or c) so obviously tone-deaf that anyone with common sense can see how terrible it would sound.
Why is that so hard?!
This isn’t a call to embrace mindless political correctness, or to implement a full scale amnesty, or to cave on issues like affirmative action. This is so much easier! Just stop associating with people who deliberately play on America’s racial anxieties for profit! Given the contours of America’s racial fault lines, doing so is always going to turn off blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and a lot of whites. The crazy thing is that movement conservatism is more likely to totally change its position on numerous public policy issues than it is to disassociate itself with the poisonous Limbaugh.
May I say “Ditto??