Conservative's Defeat Immigration Bill, Thanks to "Visceral" Repetition of "Hot-Button Word"

The immigration bill suffered a body blow last week, and reporter Julia Preston gave anti-illegal immigration advocates their due in an above-the-fold front-page story on Sunday, "Grass Roots Roared, and an Immigration Plan Fell."

"'The opposition to the amnesty plan is so much more intense than the intensity of the supporters,' said Mr. Hanna, speaking of the bill's provisions to grant legal status to qualifying illegal immigrants, which the authors of the legislation insisted was not amnesty.

It was a fairly dispassionate article, considering reporter Preston's past statements lamenting the lack of immigration reform.

But Times Watch has a major quibble with a condescending line of argument, popular in the Times, that conservative opposition is visceral and simplistic, while liberal supporters of "reform" are burdened by having to make complicated factual arguments (how flattering for them!).

"In the end, supporters conceded that they were outmaneuvered by opponents who boiled down their complaints to that single hot-button word, repeated often and viscerally on talk radio programs and blogs.

"It's a lot easier to yell one word, 'amnesty,' and it takes a little more to explain, 'No, it's not, and if you don't do anything you have a silent amnesty,'" said Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona, a Democrat who backed the measure."

That liberal conceit was underlined in the story's text box: "A single hot-button word was repeated often and viscerally: Amnesty."