Thursday, June 6, 2013

Media Games

Jonathan Strong has an interesting story on how effective Senator Rubio and the other members of the Gang of Eight have been in driving the media narrative over immigration reform:
The charismatic Rubio and his immigration gang are effortlessly driving the media coverage of the immigration bill, to the great frustration of the bill’s opponents, who are struggling to draw attention to what they consider the legislation’s deep and systemic flaws.
In past days, Rubio has said the bill doesn’t have enough votes and that he might even vote against it, prompting a frenzy of horse-race coverage that is drowning out most discussion about the substance of the bill. Opponents are convinced that Rubio’s remarks are a sideshow calculated to distract.
“It is no coincidence” that Rubio’s remarks about the bill’s not having enough votes were “made right after the leading GOP critics of the bill penned a Dear Colleague [letter] yesterday exhaustively detailing the scores of crippling flaws pervasive throughout the bill,” said an aide to one of the senators — Sessions, Cruz, Mike Lee (Utah) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa) — who wrote the letter.
The battle over process has been a major strategy for the Gang.  Senator Rubio's threat to walk away from the bill may make him seem more credible to the right and this threat also opens him up to criticism from the left, which might only further rally the right behind him and therefore make the passage of this bill even easier.  The appearance of a battle over immigration can make any "concessions" offered by the Gang of Eight appear more significant.

In a meeting with members of the House, Rubio continued to use a favored tactic by criticizing the bill that he sponsored, co-wrote, and publicizes:
Those in the meeting were struck by how little Rubio stuck up for his bill. There was “very little support for the Senate bill — even from Rubio,” a senior GOP aide said.
At one point, Rubio was asked why he became involved with the Gang of Eight in the first place. He said he joined to move the bill to the right, since the group would have passed a bill through the Senate whether or not he was a part of it.
Some in the meeting noted that if the bill would have easily passed with or without Rubio, his recent protestations that it can’t pass the Senate without fixes on border security didn’t carry much weight.
It does, I suppose, remain unclear how exactly, if the bill currently lacks 60 votes according to Rubio, it would have well over 60 votes if he hadn't supported it.

Meanwhile, Senator Cornyn has released the outline of a new border-security amendment that would keep the legalization-before-enforcement approach of the Gang of Eight but would delay citizenship until certain benchmarks have been met.

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