Ed Rendell: What's with these conservative wackos and birthright citizenship?

Oh Ed. Sweet, innocent Ed. Don’t you know that the birthright citizenship amendment is nonsense being fed to the base by amnesty-minded Beltway Republicans to convince us of their immigration bona fides? Selling out to the left on a path to citizenship is way too electorally dangerous for them right now. But after a few months, or even years, of table-pounding about an amendment that’s going nowhere? They’re golden.

I’m really surprised that a Dem as savvy as Rendell doesn’t realize how much contempt the GOP leadership has for the intelligence of its own supporters.

The sudden support cheered anti-immigration hard-liners who have been pushing to do away with birthright citizenship for years, but the senators face a problem: Few others want to take up the issue, and it is almost assuredly going nowhere

“We don’t think that it is worth the political capital to initiate a debate on this issue,” said Jon Feere, legal policy analyst for the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that backs stricter immigration policies. “The energy spent on ending birthright citizenship might be better spent reducing illegal immigration through a commitment to immigration law enforcement generally. If illegal immigration is ended, the problem of birthright citizenship for children of illegal aliens disappears.”…

“My organization would say there should be a change on the horizon, but not in the way Lindsey Graham is talking about it,” said Rosemary Jenks, director of governmental relations for the nonprofit NumbersUSA, the leading group opposed to birthright citizenship. “I do think it is political. . . . What we need is a serious discussion of the actual issues, not a lot of political ploys. “

They have a track record of this, you know. James Antle:

The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait recently snickered at the number of conservative constitutional amendments floating around that have been endorsed by “mainstream Republicans,” but the joke is really on conservatives: a no-hope constitutional amendment is the usual way a GOP politician pays lip service to some conservative concern he plans to do nothing about.

A classic example is the antiabortion human life amendment. At its peak in 1984, it got 49 votes in a Republican-controlled Senate with a sympathetic, articulate pro-lifer in the White House — 18 votes short of passage, two shy of a simple majority. Fast forward more than twenty years to the federal marriage amendment. With a 10-seat Republican majority in the Senate and a sympathetic if inarticulate president, the gay marriage amendment failed 49 to 48.

What do conservatives have to show for the Republicans’ election-year promises to support the human life amendment and the federal marriage amendment? Absolutely nothing, unless you count 37 years of Roe v. Wade and a Supreme Court that is within Anthony Kennedy’s vote of issuing a similarly sweeping decision redefining marriage.

The fact that it’s Graham, a guy who’s never felt obliged to pander to the righty base, that’s out in front on this issue should tell you everything you need to know about how serious Republicans senators are about it. If this were a simple matter of playing to the grassroots, he’d have left it to DeMint and company; the fact that he’s involved means he sees some sort of legislative advantage to being involved, which almost certainly means he’s trying to stockpile conservative cred with an eye to making an eventual immigration “compromise” more politically palatable. Nothing nuts or wacko about it. On the contrary, it’s a shrewd if cynical move to create political space for a more “moderate” solution. Conservative media will call him on it every step of the way, but that’s never stopped Graham before. Why would it now?