A test of moral seriousness

A TEST OF MORAL SERIOUSNESS…. I rarely myself in agreement with Michael Gerson, but his column on immigration policy today noted a sentiment that I can strongly endorse: “The Arizona law — like others before it — does have one virtue. It sorts Republicans according to their political and moral seriousness.”

It does, indeed. At this point, the serious GOP contingent is quite small, but it’s slowly growing. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) criticized Arizona’s awful new immigration law yesterday, and was soon followed by former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge and California gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman. Florida’s Marco Rubio also doesn’t care for the odious Arizona measure, and even former Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado believes it goes too far.

But all of those Republicans have one thing in common: none of them currently hold public office. How about actual GOP officeholders?

Amanda Terkel has been keeping track of Republican lawmakers who’ve stated their public position on Arizona’s effort, and so far, only two GOP members — Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Florida and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — have been willing to criticize the state law.

What about their colleagues? Kasie Hunt reports that Republicans, who usually can’t wait to pop off in front of reporters, are suddenly feeling shy.

Democrats can’t shout loud enough about how much they hate Arizona’s harsh immigration law. But Republican lawmakers are hedging, dodging, and reaching for nuance — anything to avoid taking a strong stand on Arizona.

House Minority Leader John Boehner says it’s a state issue and, well, it has 70 percent support in Arizona. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is “sympathetic.” … Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), caught between Texas’ large Hispanic population and his job running national Senate campaigns, thinks it’s “probably constitutional.” […]

Even the normally outspoken Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) was subdued. “You know I haven’t even really been following it to tell the truth,” she told POLITICO when asked about the law.

If the issue is a test of Republicans’ political and moral seriousness, it appears most of the party caucus on the Hill is content with an “incomplete.”

Here’s a thought: what about a non-binding resolution expressing a sense of Congress that the Arizona law is a legally-dubious travesty? Why not get every member of both chambers on the record?

Republicans tend to love pushing these kinds of resolutions, hoping to put Democrats on the spot. Perhaps Dems might be in the mood to turn the tables.