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Now if you are a Democrat and you just like to see Republicans look silly and confused and engaged in infighting, this is great fun. Because we Republicans do look silly and confused and prone to civil war right now.
But consider this: It takes a really motivated base of voters to produce a wave election where political giants fall. The tea party folks are really motivated to get some people into office they trust and who won’t go wobbly on them. That spells for a repeat of 2010 — which should terrify every Democrat in a toss-up or near toss-up district.
Another thing that Democrats don’t quite understand: Immigration reform is supposed to be their ace card. Get it passed and they get credit and votes. Don’t get it passed and they get to paint the other side as a bunch of bigots.
Cantor was closely affiliated with immigration reform negotiations and sentiment. So any immigration reform — whatever that means — is a dead duck for the rest of Obama’s term of office.
Does that give the Democrats a two-year pass where they can paint the Republican Party as hopelessly xenophobic? Not so fast.
Now the focus will shift from the policy and legislative story to the actual issue — what does immigration, both legal and illegal, look like right now? Reporters will pay attention to the people “waiting” — the thousands of people, many of them children, who are being warehoused near our southern border.
The stories from these refugee camps will increasingly capture the nation’s attention and crystallize the problem. The humanitarian crisis will overwhelm the discussion over any sensible reform ideas. Again, the nation will wonder whether anyone controls the borders, or anyone is trying. And that is not a winning discussion for the Democrats, whose leader — Barack Obama — gets to decide how to control the border.
And finally, remember this: Every Senator and Representative now realizes how much the country hates Congress and all incumbents right now. Obama’s poll numbers are at their lowest level ever.
So any chortling Democrats should be careful. They’re like people in Connecticut gloating over a blizzard hitting New Jersey. That blizzard is coming, and it is going to hit just as hard.
Noam Neusner is a principal with the communications firm 30 Point Strategies. He was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush. Follow him on Twitter @Glutens