The politics of the ports deal

John Hinderaker may be the most knowledgeable supporter of the DPW deal I’ve heard, but Larry Kudlow runs a close second. In his column “Port split,” Kudlow addresses both the merits and the politics of the deal. As for the politics, Kudlow looks at the split among conservative pundits, placing himself with supporters including Charles Krauthammer, David Brooks and Jack Kemp juxtaposed with opponents Michelle Malkin, Bill Bennett and Pat Buchanan.
Toward the end of his column, Kudlow refers to “fear-mongers in the conservative ranks” who are driven by “anti-Arab Islamophobia or anti-Mexican Hispanophobia.” I don’t know enough about the ports deal to evaluate the merits of the deal and probably never will, but Kudlow’s political breakdown seems to me of use in understanding the lines along which the deal will play out politically.
They roughly parallel the lines along which concerns over illegal immigration are playing out. On the one side are those who have been more or less unconcerned about the continuing stream of illegal immigration over the Mexican border and viewed it in economic terms. On the other side are those who have been highly concerned about it, viewing it both in terms of culture and national security.
When Republican incumbents in competitive races discuss the DPW deal, it is apparent that they view it as intensely unpopular among the voters whose votes they must win in order to survive in the next election. Though they have not expressly made the connection to the resolution of immigration issues, I think they view a vote in favor of the DPW deal as roughly comparable to coming out in favor of illegal immigration.
For Democratic incumbents, the opportunity to vote against the deal is a gift; for Republican incumbents, a vote for the deal is a snare. That’s why I don’t think political approval of the deal is in the cards.


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