Timothy Egan, a former Seattle-based correspondent for the Times who is doing a guest column this summer, goes to Scottsdale, Ariz. for "Republicans Losing the West." The reason? The "blowhard fringe" stating its opposition to illegal immigration.
"He was loud, he was blustery and he was clear: our country is being overrun by Mexicans. To back his bark, he wrote, 'Whatever It Takes,' as subtle as a cactus poke. He had money, and he had the power of office, a 12-year incumbency.
"In the end, J. D. Hayworth, a Republican, was kicked out of his Congressional seat here last year. In the glossy white suburbs of Phoenix, immigrant-bashing backfired.
"Farther south, in a district that is ground zero in the border wars - the seared-over patch of Arizona desert where the Minutemen patrol, more Mayberry than Concord - another Republican took an even harsher stance. The anti-immigration extremist, Randy Graf, was crushed.
"For Republicans in Arizona, the result was a net loss of two Congressional seats.
"Americans are genuinely conflicted and troubled about porous borders and the 12 million or more illegal immigrants in our midst. But to hear politicians who have been scorched by the blowhard fringe tell it, they're facing a tidal wave of opposition to a consensus change in the status quo."
What "consensus" is Egan referring to? The immigration bill isn't exactly popular on the left or right.
Egan piled up more insults against talk radio hosts, a la Trent Lott: "Still, on the air it's open war against the browning of America - tinged with slurs that disrespect all Hispanics. Consider Hayworth, who gives helium a bad name. Ousted from his seat, he now uses the megaphone of a Phoenix talk station to promote his solution: all undocumented immigrants would be given 120 days to leave the country - or face a massive, forceful roundup and deportation....The syndicated talker Neal Boortz chuckles at the human collision along an advanced border fence. 'I don't care if Mexicans pile up against that fence like tumbleweeds in the Santa Ana winds,' he said on Monday....pragmatism is being drowned out by the bullies with electronic bullhorns, who've got their party leaders running scared."