Immigration Deal Appears Doomed

Hats off to the earnest and dedicated lawmakers who spent months behind closed doors trying to solve one the country’s worst problems while their colleagues competed for air time on the Iraq war. But it’s already hard to believe this hard fought immigration compromise has a pulse.

It would be mighty impressive if the new Democratic majority actually tried to get this sick and dying patient to the hospital, to surgery and to stability. But it’s more likely they drive the ambulance down a dark alley and dump it. Helping President Bush win one for the legacy might sound alright — on their most generous day — if it didn’t guarantee the Democrats so much trouble. Just after gaining power are they eager to take something on that rankles black voters, Hispanic voters, labor unions and big business all at once?

There’s a brushfire of heated opposition on the GOP side, and it is just getting started. In 2006 the issue officially became a new litmus test for Republicans, another reason among many to rail against Sen. John McCain. Newt Gingrich has now scared off any last Republicans warm to the proposal, declaring that no Republican supporting it could ever win the GOP nomination.

Gingrich’s declaration rippled across the aisle. Sen. Barack Obama tried to dodge the plan from the left. And Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a most able straddler, avoided taking a position on the bill but expressed her support, per The New York Times, for “both toughening border security and providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.” Really, what a shock.

We will see what immigration reform looks like in a couple of weeks. I hope to be surprised but I see a coffin on the horizon.