by Doctor Science
As the swallows return to Capistrano, so the Senate returns to immigration reform. Over at Balloon Juice, Kay reminds us what happened to President Bush's big attempt:
NYTimes:I was already thinking about this while writing about Fox News as the Ministry of Truth, because it was the clearest case I could recall of the Republican party leadership, especially business interests, being defeated by their voting base. What I don't remember is how Fox News presented it. Did the most popular voices on Fox support Bush's plan, or oppose it?The bill called for the biggest changes to immigration law in more than 20 years, offering legal status to millions of illegal immigrants while trying to secure the nation’s borders. ... Mr. Bush placed telephone calls to lawmakers throughout the morning, but members of his party abandoned him in droves, with only 12 of the 49 Senate Republicans sticking by him on the key procedural vote that determined the bill’s fate.I followed the last immigration debate, and the politics were interesting. Obviously, Bush and Rove understood that alienating and enraging a voting bloc was stupid and short-sighted, but the activist conservative base ignored them and killed the bill.
This was brought home to me locally during that period, because LOCAL Republicans were convinced that a rabid, spit-flecked “NO!” response to all things immigration was a sure-fire political winner for them. I live in a conservative area and a good part of my local political gossiping includes dire warnings from conservatives that I (personally, I guess) have awakened either a silent majority or a sleeping giant. I heard the “you have awakened a sleeping giant!” warning often on immigration in that period. They truly believed that the GOP stance on immigration was a political plus, and Democrats would be punished for Kennedy and others even suggesting a path to citizenship for undocumented workers. They believed that the GOP anti-immigrant stance would help them in the 2006 midterms. It was the first time I really understood how completely captured Republicans were by their base and their media echo chamber.
I'm really wondering if the GOP base -- the rank-and-file voters -- followed Fox News in opposition to Republican and business leaders, or if Fox was on the side of the leadership and the base was rejecting Fox, too.
Or, in Orwellian terms, do the proles follow where MiniTrue leads -- even if it's in opposition to the ostensible "leadership"? Or are there areas where the proles' opinions are so deeply held that even MiniTrue can't change them?
My sense as an outsider was that the anti-immigration GOP voters later became part of the Tea Party. What I don't know is whether they were following Fox, or whether Fox was following them -- or whether it's possible to tell the difference.
I'm not interested at the moment in discussing what's in the current plan, or what's likely to pass, or even what *should* pass, because right now it's all Congressional inside baseball.
 Interestingly, when I google back to find out who was using this expression at the time, I mostly find references to the sleeping giant of the Hispanic vote. And in fact it seems to have happened: the Hispanic vote has moved away from the GOP since 2004.