Senate kills John Thune's border-fence amendment -- with help from Rubio and McCain

You know the deal. Every amendment that adds significant border security to the Gang of Eight bill threatens to scare Democratic votes away, and Rubio, McCain, Graham, and Flake have decided that they’d rather have the bad bill they wrote pass than no bill at all. Four votes against the fence, just as Conn Carroll predicted this morning:

Senators on Tuesday rejected building the 700 miles of double-tier border fencing Congress authorized just seven years ago, with a majority of the Senate saying they didn’t want to delay granting illegal immigrants legal status while the fence was being built.

The 54-39 vote to reject the fence shows the core of the immigration deal is holding. The vote broke mostly along party lines, though five Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio and the rest of the bill’s authors, voted against the fence, and two Democrats voted for it.

Republicans had offered the fence as a way to build the confidence of voters skeptical that the government will enforce its laws, but opponents said building more fencing is costly, would take too long, and shouldn’t be dictated by Washington.

“I think we should leave that to the best judgment of the Border Patrol,” said Sen. John McCain, one of the eight senators who wrote the immigration bill.

That’s the same John McCain who grumbled in early 2007 about having to “build the goddamned fence,” then quickly metamorphosed into a kinda sorta border hawk in time for the 2008 campaign, then hung onto his phony border-security cred to get elected to another Senate term in 2010, and who now has safely reverted to the amnesty shill he always was at heart. That’s one of the glories of the current reform process — how open and honest everyone involved is.

Here’s another fun immigration anecdote from National Journal:

Marco Rubio was not amused.

The senator from Florida had listened patiently as a panel of hand-picked conservatives, lined up across a long table at the front of the room, took turns speaking about the prospects of immigration reform. When discussion finally opened to the anxious, overflowing crowd of lawmakers at the Republican Study Committee’s immigration summit, several were quick to critique their pro-reform colleagues—Rubio the headliner among them…

Referencing a Jay Leno one-liner, Burgess questioned fellow conservatives about the wisdom of giving citizenship to “11 million undocumented Democrats.” Laughter, some of it nervous, spread throughout the room. But not everyone found Burgess’s crack funny. According to several people who attended the June 5 gathering, Rubio glared at Burgess.

I don’t disagree with him that it’s a bad idea for Republicans in Congress to go around calling illegals “undocumented Democrats.” It’s true on balance, of course — everyone understands the political stakes of amnesty — but when someone in power is that openly dismissive of a constituency as ungettable, they risk making it even more ungettable than it otherwise might be. The last thing a politician should say to someone who’s technically unaffiliated is tell them that they belong to the other party. But Rubio’s ire would be more tolerable if he didn’t seem to have an Obama-esque confidence in himself to defy basic political gravity. O came into office thinking that he’d usher in an age of “pragmatic” bipartisanship through the sheer force of his own charisma. Rubio, when pressed by Rush Limbaugh on the fact that most Latinos vote Democratic, made noises that suggest he thinks he’s going to do something similar in convincing Latinos to adopt small-government conservatism. Obama was wrong, Rubio will be wrong too. Although Rubio, at least, recognizes that having a legislative achievement to tout instead of just his own charm and personal awesomeness would be helpful in making the case.

Beyond that, if Rubio’s so concerned about politicians alienating key constituencies through jerky, off-putting rhetoric, how come he hasn’t canned any aides yet over yesterday’s moronic “we need amnesty because some American workers can’t cut it” quote? He prides himself on effective messaging, right? Well, here’s a chance to send a message. Fire the guys who told Ryan Lizza that because some American workers aren’t “stars,” we need more foreign workers — even though some of them aren’t stars either. And yes, I’m using the plural when I refer to “aides”; Lizza published a partial transcript last night showing that it was two Rubio staffers who seemed to subscribe to the “can’t cut it” quote, not just one.

I leave you with this, from McCain’s “yes, I’m a conservative, sort of” 2010 Senate campaign, to remind you that you’ve been lied to on immigration, over and over, and you’re being lied to again now.