Dick Day mistakes criticism for censorship in In response: We have the right to speak up about immigration, a column published in today's Mankato Free Press.
Like all Americans, Day has the right to free speech; he doesn't seem to get the part about other people having it as well. Given the fawning press release coverage of his visit by the Star Tribune, it's pretty entertaining to see him try to paint himself as a victim:
. . .But since I’ve been back, the media, political parties and special interest groups have expressed mass outrage that I’d actually expose the issue, admit we have a massive problem and start a dialogue with folks who think it should be fixed. . . .
Day claims to be the one "exposing the problem." He must think Southern Minnesota voters can't remember that immigration was discussed at length in last year's election. Since Day himself doesn't seem willing to recall Gutknecht's campaigning on this issue, it's up to the bovine blogger of BSP to graze in the annals of recent district politics.
Let us return to the thrilling campaigns of yesteryear and see if Day has indeed been the first to expose immigration as an issue. We're using Nexis for this.
Shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Rep. Gil Gutknecht angrily walked out of a closed-door briefing when Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner James Ziglar said the service's main job was to help people get into the country.
Gutknecht has emerged as the most vocal member of the Minnesota delegation on immigration, and he doesn't shy away from a "hard-liner" label. In December he said Congress was finally getting the message after the House passed a get-tough immigration bill calling for 700 miles of fencing along the southern border.
The Senate plans to take up the issue this week, but after it jostled over the issue last month and failed to reach agreement, the six-term Republican complained that the bill had succumbed to "the graveyard of all good ideas."
"You cannot have a serious discussion about any other changes, including a guest-worker program, until you demonstrate that you're credible on defending the borders and enforcing the law," said Gutknecht, who likens his immigration views to those of illegal-immigration hawk Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.
Gutknecht has held forums on illegal immigration in Albert Lea and Worthington - the former with Tancredo -and was one of 72 members of Congress who sent a letter to the Senate in late March asking it to deal with immigration enforcement before any amnesty. He is rated the highest among Minnesotans in Congress by Americans for Better Immigration, which lobbies for reduced immigration.
He said that Worthington, a meatpacking town where immigrants make up a quarter of the population of 11,000, is "ground zero for this whole debate," and that Albert Lea is in a similar situation. . . .
Seems like immigration policy got discussed quite a bit last year; for Day to claim he's exposing an issue is pure grandstanding. To paint himself as a victim? Does he want to emerge as a leader or go for the sympathy vote?
And how did the focus on immgration work out for Gutknecht? As the Hill reported on November 9, 2006, in "House GOP's immgration strategy no "magic bullet""
Earlier this year Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-Minn.) argued that illegal immigration would play a bigger role in the election than the war in Iraq. People know what they want to do about illegal immigration, he reasoned, but most Americans find the war more confounding without a clear strategy in mind to turn it around.
But Tuesday Gutknecht lost his reelection bid, and that loss, as well as those of many other so-called border-enforcement-first Republicans around the country, punctuated their party's failed election strategy, casting doubt on their handling of what was supposed to be a winning campaign issue and demonstrating that issues like Iraq and President Bush's low popularity in the polls trumped the polarizing illegal immigration issue even at the southern border.
And one final point: we are amused to have Day call the response to his Minuteman trip "mass outrage." Like our friend DJ, we would have characterized at least some of the response as mass laughter.
The Winona Daily News runs with an AP news report on the AMT vote. The editors added this information about Coleman, Klobuchar, and Walz's votes:
How southern Minnesota representatives voted on the Alternative Minimum Tax bill:
Sen. Norm Coleman (R): Yes
Coleman voted against the earlier version that would have offset the tax relief.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D): Yes
Klobuchar voted for an earlier version of the bill that would have offset the lost revenue. That version would have increased taxes on hedge fund managers for a total of more than $50 billion.
Rep. Tim Walz (D): No
Walz voted against the bill on the grounds it will add more than $50 billion to the national debt, said spokesperson Meredith Salsbery. Walz voted for the earlier bill that paid for the cuts.
KEYC-TV reports Congress Passes AMT Tax Bill Over Walz' Objections.
Mankato high school rocker Beth at My Thoughts in Your Face is p.o.'ed in Pro-Choice v. Anti-Life. But her anger isn't directed at Tim Walz. Great title for blog.