Graham and the Climate Bill

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Senator Lindsey Graham (R–SC) angrily withdrew his support for climate legislation this weekend after learning that Harry Reid and President Obama apparently want to move on immigration reform first. Since Graham himself has been pushing the administration to get more serious about immigration, charges of hypocrisy popped up almost immediately. I had one all teed up myself. But here’s the most relevant part of yesterday’s letter:

I know from my own personal experience the tremendous amounts of time, energy, and effort that must be devoted to this issue to make even limited progress.

In 2007, we spent hundreds of hours over many months with President Bush’s Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, and nearly every member of the U.S. Senate searching for a way to address our nation’s immigration problems. Unlike this current “effort,” it was a good-faith attempt to address a very difficult national issue.

Some of the major provisions we embraced in 2007 — such as creation of a Virtual Fence using cameras, motion detectors and other technological devices to protect our borders — have been scrapped for the time. Other issues we found agreement on at the time, such as a temporary guest worker program, have unraveled over the past three years.

Expecting these major issues to be addressed in three weeks — which appears to be their current plan based upon media reports — is ridiculous. It also demonstrates the raw political calculations at work here.

Let’s be clear, a phony, political effort on immigration today accomplishes nothing but making it exponentially more difficult to address in a serious, comprehensive manner in the future.

Well? Is he right? Because let’s be honest here: this really does seem more like a political exercise to firm up the Hispanic vote than a serious effort to deliver a major immigration bill this year, doesn’t it? It’s possible that Graham’s defection from the climate bill is cynically motivated too, but that only means that both sides are playing politics.

Or am I missing something here?

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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