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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Monday, May 22, 2006

Senate Republicans abuse literature, too

There will always be a need for English teachers; I will never be out of a job.

And I'm not just talking about fixing the kids who want to know R U a sk8r boi? or whatever, but also Republicans in the United States Senate.

I caught this one on the Sunday Morning shows:
The Senate defeated a proposal Wednesday by Sen. David Vitter to strip provisions from a major immigration bill that the Louisiana Republican described as amnesty for illegal immigrants but which proponents call an opportunity for "earned citizenship."

Vitter's amendment lost 66-33 after a spirited debate in which Vitter and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., sparred over the definition of "amnesty."

"Tens of millions of Americans," Vitter said, know that legislation that would allow many of the 12 million illegal immigrants in the country to eventually become citizens fits the dictionary "definition of amnesty."

McCain said that when the American people learn that the Senate bill would allow undocumented residents who learn English and pay back taxes and a $2,000 fine the chance to "get at the end of the line" of those seeking citizenship six years down the road isn't amnesty at all.

"Call it amnesty, call it a banana if you want to . . . but the fact is it is earned citizenship," McCain said.

"Methinks thou dost protest too much," Vitter said.
I'm all for Republican implosions, but that's not what caught my ear. It was Vitter's methinking. The reference is a painful misquoting of Gertrude's line in Hamlet III.ii, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

Much worse is this one, which came to me via NPR one day last week:
A few minutes earlier, the Senate had voted 83-16 in favor of construction of the fence and 500 miles of vehicle barriers, the first significant victory in two days for conservatives seeking to place their stamp on the measure.

The developments unfolded in a volatile political environment. The White House struggled for a second day to ease the concerns of House Republicans who contend that President Bush favors amnesty for illegal immigrants, and demonstrators massed a few blocks from the Capitol demanding immigrant rights.

CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports immigration activists didn't stop at the foot of the U.S. Capitol Building Wednesday — they walked right through the doors and into the offices of members of Congress.

Members of the "We Are America" coalition, who hope to use the demonstrations as the foundation of a political movement, won an on-the-spot audience with Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who told Attkisson: "I think it could change minds because it puts a human face on it."

Construction of the barrier would send "a signal that open-border days are over," said Sen. Jeff Sessions. "Good fences make good neighbors, fences don't make bad neighbors."
This is abuse of one of America's greatest poets, Robert Frost. Frost's poem "Mending Wall" ends with the line, "Good fences make good neighbors." But if you believe only the literal meaning of the words, you clearly have not read the rest of the poem. The poem opens (and repeats), "Something there is that doesn't love a wall." The rest of the poem describes the speaker and a neighbor's attempt to repair a stone fence that nature--darn that nature!--keeps tearing down. The neighbor mindlessly parrots "Good fences make good neighbors," but the speaker doesn't understand why. He says,
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
These are the lines Jeff Sessions needs to ponder.

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