The Media

Immigration Hardball

Watch this clip from Hardball then come back. It's Rachel Maddow debating Pat Buchanan about immigration.

First, note Chris Matthews smacking Rachel for smiling.

MATTHEWS: And you're laughing. You think it's funny.

MADDOW: What? Why? No I'm not laughing at this. This is the reason we haven't done it. The difference -- the thing that you guys aren't grasping is that this hasn't changed.

While Rachel is saying this, Matthews begins to grin and chuckle. Then less than a minute later at 2:52, Pat Buchanan cracks a joke which prompts a Chris Matthews HA-HA! cackle. So it's okay for the guys to laugh, but not Rachel. Considering both his angry shaming of Rachel Maddow as well as his on-going obsession with Senator Clinton's laugh, I wonder what Matthews has against women who laugh?

The other tragic thing about the exchange is that it exposed the fact that Pat Buchanan gets paid lecture fees from businesses that hire and exploit illegal workers. In other words, it doesn't matter whether these corporations hire illegal immigrants -- as long as the check clears, it's fine by him. Way to stand by your convictions, Buchanan.

MATTHEWS: Pat, when you talk to business groups, do the business people you talk to agree with you about putting serious penalties on people who hire people illegally?

BUCHANAN: No! One of the guys says, "You're gonna put me in jail!" And I said that's right if you hire illegals. That is right!

MATTHEWS: Well that cuts down on the lecture fees I think if you try to give a speech to a bunch of guys that know they're going to the can if you get your way--

BUCHANAN: You get your lecture fee then you tell 'em.


Meanwhile, Rachel nailed the point of all of this at the very end. She basically says that this is an issue that's been around forever, but a strategy for mainstreaming xenophobia and racism was never established until the GOP needed a wedge issue for the 2006 midterms. Then suddenly, in the Spring of 2006, the modern version of the debate began and it became much more than just the pet issue of Buchanan and Dobbs. Unfortunately for the GOP it failed as both a wedge and as a rallying cry for that campaign.

Why? Because I believe that it overshadows the real border issue -- the issue that really hits home with middle class Americans. The debate should be about the jobs leaving America and not so much the immigrants coming in. NAFTA, GATT, the WTO, CAFTA and free trade at large is killing America -- draining it of the middle class and transforming us into, as Carlin says, a giant shopping mall.

Stop the jobs from leaving, then maybe work on the illegal workers coming in. By the way, it's no coincidence that both sides of this coin involve huge corporate profits on the backs of the poor and middle class.