The Corner

Bill or No Bill

As a matter of the purest fact, it goes without saying that a bad bill is worse than no bill. As a matter of politics, it really isn’t that simple. When a party in power in Congress and the White House fails to get through its legislation, that is a sign of weakness beyond measure to voters. People here have mentioned Clinton’s failures with the 1994 crime bill and, of course, the health-care initiative. But what about the failure of Jimmy Carter’s SALT 2 treaty in the Democratic-controlled Senate. That was a seminal moment in the decline and fall of that presidency, and you’ll note that even though the Democrats helped defeat the treaty, they were still wiped out in the Senate in the 1980 elections. Under no circumstances, as a matter of politics, is a failed immigration bill better than no bill. Sorry, guys. Rejoice in its defeat, if it is defeated, if you so choose. But that defeat will be as devastating in its way as those other defeats were to the presidents and their parties, with far-reaching consequences. That’s what political history tells us. Failure is bad politics.

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