Istook Fails To Rally GOP Base
Read DocHoc’s commentary on Oklahoma poverty in this week’s Oklahoma Gazette.
Ernest Goes To Cultural Wedge Issues
U. S. Rep. Ernest Istook's desperate attempt to rally the Oklahoma Republican base around the issue of illegal immigration has been an utter failure.
The problem is the Republican Party is split on the issue. The ultra-rich, business bigwigs in the GOP want some type of immigration program that will give them a cheap labor force. The so-called “law and order” Republicans want undocumented workers out of the country, no matter what the personal or economic costs.
Consequently, Istook and his own party have stood in the way of meaningful reform because there can be no reconciliation between the two positions.
But that hasn’t stopped Istook, who is running for governor here, from criticizing Governor Brad Henry for signing a measure into law that grants a handful of undocumented students in-state college tuition rates under certain strict criteria. (Remember, these are people who live here and are paying for college.) Only 200 students or so take advantage of the 2003 law, which was passed by the legislature. Henry only signed the measure, which is a good law that promotes education.
Istook’s attacks on Henry about this issue simply have no traction. It seems petty and hateful to deny a relatively small number of students educational opportunities, and it would do absolutely nothing to solve the immigration issue. Istook’s attacks create the obvious question: Why didn’t he do something about this issue while serving in Congress when he could have made a difference?
Even The Daily Oklahoman, which certainly represents the interests of the GOP wealthy, has criticized Istook on its editorial page for making this a campaign issue.
According to the newspaper, “Immigration reform is needed. But punishing students who are seeking higher education and want to become citizens for the actions of their parents isn’t the kind of immigration reform that will ultimately help our state.”
So what is a Republican to do? Listen to Istook’s rants? Believe what The Oklahoman says? The GOP has failed the country on this issue. Istook’s attacks on Henry only reveal the hypocritical lies and split in his party. Meanwhile, Henry is running powerful campaign television advertisements that focus on his many accomplishments in his first term as governor. Current polls show Henry has a commanding lead over Istook among Oklahoma voters.
More than one political observer has noted that Istook miscalculated when he decided to run against Henry. He trails in fundraising, and he is now forced to run a negative campaign. Istook seems desperate. Meanwhile, Henry can talked about how pulled the state through difficult economic times and generated more funding for education.
Speaking of politics, Keith Gaddie, an OU political science professor, writes about the rising fortunes of Oklahoma Democrats in the Oklahoma Gazette this week.
In a commentary titled “Boo! The Democrats might win!,” Gaddie, a local political guru, writes, “All indications are that, for the first time ever, a viable and organized Democratic Party is present the Sooner State.”
The Democrats have a great statewide ticket for the upcoming election in November. The ticket is led, of course, by popular Governor Brad Henry. (Gaddie writes that some in the GOP think Ernest Istook “will be lucky to break 40 percent” in the election.) In addition, polls show voters nationally are fed up with President George Bush and the Republican majority in the House and Senate. And I sense, too, Democrats are becoming more unified in their efforts to stop the Republican juggernaut that has seized this state and turned it into a seething battleground for right-wing, religious-based ideology. This could translate into big wins for the Democrats.