Elephants Can Forget—GOP Loyalists Forgetting Years Of McCain Abuse

science has proven the old adage
"Elephants Never
to be largely true—if exaggerated. A

circus elephant
will remember an abusive trainer for

Thomas Nast
must not have had this characteristic in mind when he

chose that animal
to represent the GOP. When
Republican activists are in the presence of

John McCain
—without doubt their

biggest abuser on the issue of immigration
——they seem
to be blocking the issue out of their mind.

During the
primaries, all the presidential candidates attacked John
McCain for his sponsorship for amnesty for illegal
aliens; and argued amongst each other over who was
tougher. This nearly tanked McCain`s campaign. He only
recovered when he said he would
"secure the border first" and oppose amnesty. By 2008, all the
candidates—including McCain—made immigration a top
priority with tough rhetoric and campaign ads.

Exit and entry polls
of Republican voters—including
McCain supporters—saw immigration at or near the top of
voter`s concerns.


Tom Tancredo
dropped out of the race right before
the Iowa
he was able to say that he had accomplished of the goal

of putting immigration at the center of the campaign.
The New Yorker declared
as an "ideological touchstone" for the party. [Return
of the Nativist,
By Ryan Lizza, December 17, 2007]

At the Republican Convention, however, there was absolutely no inkling
that immigration was ever an issue. The closest any of
the speakers came to mentioning it was when the priest
who gave the
on the 4th said to pray extra
hard for "the migrant" (The following night, a

gave an invocation that thanked God for our
diversity) and John McCain`s

in his acceptance speech that everyone
from "
boy whose descendents [sic]arrived
on the

"the Latina
daughter of

migrant workers
"all Americans."

Unless you
dug real deep, it was hard to find any delegate who
cared about immigration.

Tim Carney
of the

Evans Novak report
told me he asked over a hundred
delegates what the most important issues to them were,
and not one said immigration. Literally all of them said

National Security
, with the


social issues
ccoming up next.

I was able
to find a few delegates who saw immigration as a top
issue, but only by seeking them out based on their
buttons. A number of Paul, and even


delegates sported low key
buttons. When I spoke to them they were
furious over

McCain`s amnesty
, and said they would sit out the
election or


One the
other side of the spectrum, there were many wearing

"Hispanics Unidos Con McCain"
buttons. They all said how

the GOP`s flirtation with

was in the last few years, but they felt
that McCain has steered the party back in the right
direction. When I asked about McCain`s abysmal polls
with Hispanics, they blamed it on the

other nativists
in the party who have brought down
McCain, and expected his numbers to recover once voters
were clear on where he stands.

There are a
few factors that make this picture a little less gloomy.
While many of the delegates were given their position
due to their activism, many were part of the
Establishment or

big donors
and not truly representative of the base.
Those who were insufficiently enthusiastic for McCain
would have been stripped of their privileges. And all
delegates were given talking points by the party for
what to say when talking to reporters.

When I
actually pressed them, almost all were against his
immigration platform. But they were quick to remind me
how much

Obama is—and how we can`t allow him to be
elected. They usually reminded me that

Palin negated any of McCain`s shortcomings.

Of course,
we really don`t know much about what Palin thinks about
immigration. Alaska doesn`t have many immigrants, and so
she hasn`t really touched on the issue. There is no
record of her saying anything. The extent of her record
is not signing (but not vetoing) a law that pre-empted
the REAL ID act—which is not necessarily a good thing.

Many point
to her support of
as reason to think she is a restrictionist.
But given her vocal backing of both the War in Iraq as
well as increased confrontation with Putin, there`s no
reason to think she`s signed on to the entire Buchanan

The truth
is that I have no clue what Palin

really thinks
about immigration. What I do know is
that, for the next 60 days, she will repeat the McCain
line on immigration. If McCain gets elected, he
will propose
amnesty and she will not be able to oppose it. Anyway,
it`s hard to believe that he will listen to her even if
she objects.

Had McCain
chosen Pawlenty or Romney, who both been vocal and
relatively good on the issue, then it could be perceived
as throwing a bone to the

. But whatever Palin`s merits—and she
has many—McCain was not thinking about appeasing
immigration hawks when he made the choice.

In addition
to the delegates inside the convention, there were
plenty of protestors outside—and not all of them were
from the Left. One of them recognized me from my

VDARE.COM column
and was with a relatively large
group of
anti-immigration activists
. However, like all Right
Wing protestors

at the convention
, all they did is wave

Ron Paul
signs. The press and delegates were
completely oblivious that their opposition to McCain was
in large part due to his

immigration policies

As much as
I like Ron Paul,

patriotic immigration reformers
need to look for
others to champion their cause. Like the rest of the
GOP, he put out ads

touting his border security credentials
during the
primaries, but has been completely silent on the issue
since then—not mentioning it in his speeches or book. He
has also

taken the wrong side
on the SAVE Act and E-Verify.

Does the
fact that the GOP faithful are not questioning McCain
now, mean that an amnesty will be inevitable if he
becomes president?

Fortunately, no. So long as McCain isn`t in the room,
the GOP is still acting somewhat sensibly.

The new
Republican platform is a significant improvement over
2004`s two paragraph immigration plank which called for
a temporary worker program that
"would allow
workers who currently hold jobs to
come out of the shadows
and to

participate legally
`s economy"

and "apply for

The latest
platform removes those provisions. And there is
absolutely nothing objectionable policy-wise. It says

"must serve the national interest,"
and it calls for cutting funds for

sanctuary cities
, enacting E-verify nationwide,
denying benefits—specifically social security,
in state
, and driver`s licenses—to illegal aliens,

expediting deportations
, and allowing for increased
cooperation between state, local, and federal law
enforcement. [PDF]

attempts to define amnesty, end

birthright citizenship
(even for
"the Latina daughter of migrant
) and pardon

Ramos and Compean
did not make the final cut, the
platform is still a victory—albeit small and symbolic.

Even after
McCain`s primary victory, the grassroots has still
blocked attempts to reintroduce AgJobs and kill
E-Verify. The patriotic immigration reform movement has
already had its greatest electoral victory in years when

Jason Chaffetz beat pro-amnesty Chris Cannon
in the
GOP primary. Hazleton Mayor
Lou Barletta

poised to defeat Paul Kanjorski
; and there are a
number of other Congressional races where immigration
control may be a winning issue.

reform patriots are faced with a

scenario in the presidential race.

But if they
win enough congressional (and
) victories, and keep the heat on whoever the
next president is, they can still make serious progress.

Marcus Epstein [send
him mail
] is the founder of the
Robert A Taft Club
and the executive director of the
The American
Team America PAC
. A selection of his articles can be
here. The
views he expresses are his own.