Sen. John McCain learned that Thomas Wolfe was apparently right: You can't go home again. Or maybe you can't keep flopping around on the immigration issue like a weathervane. Yesterday he held a meeting in an Arizona town called Sun Lakes (apparently one or two retirees live there) and tried to explain why he's gone from the godfather of immigration reform to Mr. Build-the-Danged-Fence (in 2010 when he had a Tea Party primary opponent, J.D. Hayworth, now polluting our local radio air here in Philly) to supporting a pathway to citizenship.
He explained to this gathering that was heavy on seniors and light on senors: "We are not going to get enough buses to deport them."
"You said build the danged fence," Smith said, referencing one of the senator's 2010 campaign ads, "Where's the fence?"
"That's not a fence? It's a banana," McCain shot back, somewhat cryptically. "We've put up a banana with about $600 million of the appropriations we have."
Several members in the crowd of 150 continued to voice opposition to the plan, with one man yelling that only guns could prevent illegal immigration, the AP reported.
The event got so heated at one point that the Arizona GOP senator lashed out at a man who identified himself as a former police officer, according to the Arizona Republic.
"You know something? I've had town-hall meetings for 30 years," McCain said. "People are very happy that I have town-hall meetings and I listen to them and I get back to you, and this is what this is all about. And, occasionally, I get a jerk like you here. So thank you."
You can't blame the audience, in a way. They're just parroting back what the GOP and its rich patrons have spent billions of dollars teaching them for the last four decades. They created a message machine with the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck on the megaphone, but now it's time to change the channel and they can't turn the danged thing (see what I did there) off. It turns out that demonizing one group to whip your base into a frenzy, and then trying to recruit said group as voters, isn't the greatest political strategy. Who knew? They've crreated a monster: Their own, ever-shrinking base.
One more thing -- if McCain and his fellow Republicans really want to gain traction on this issue, they need to look deeper inside, to learn how to treat undocumented immigrant as human beings with families that they're trying to keep together, not "illegals." So you might NOT want to say that you're taking this new approach on immigration not because you don't have enough of those danged buses. I know this sounds crazy, but you do it because...it's the right thing to do.