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NY Times' Parker on 'Nasty' Immigration Debate and Sen. Jim DeMint, the 'Smiling Assassin'

Ashley Parker reported on the political split on immigration policy between retired Republican Sen. Jim DeMint and his protege, the Times-anointed "rising star" Sen. Marco Rubio, on the front of Tuesday's New York Times: "Immigration Splits Senator From Mentor."

Parker, whose reporting is sympathetic to the cause of Democratic-style immigration "reform, "called former South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint "a smiling assassin -- a mild-mannered legislator with a soft Southern drawl who could be a near-constant irritant to those not in line with his conservative causes and principles."

Jim DeMint helped make Marco Rubio a Senate star -- and he could be forgiven for regretting it.

Mr. DeMint, a former Republican senator from South Carolina, endorsed Mr. Rubio early on in his 2010 Senate bid, when he was still a long-shot Tea Party candidate, and Mr. Rubio has said that Mr. DeMint is his best friend, after his wife.

And yet, perhaps for the first time, the two men now find themselves at odds on a major issue. In 2007, Mr. DeMint was instrumental in helping to kill legislation to overhaul the nation’s immigration system, and now, six years later, Mr. Rubio, Republican of Florida, is a pivotal member of a bipartisan Senate group that has written a bill that would do just what Mr. DeMint was fighting to prevent.

As Mr. Rubio’s immigration push meets vocal and persistent opposition, it will be Mr. DeMint, newly ensconced as the president of the Heritage Foundation, among those leading the charge. The foundation plans to issue an updated version of its 2007 economic study that helped doom the overhaul.

....

During his time in the Senate, Mr. DeMint, 61, earned a reputation as something of a smiling assassin -- a mild-mannered legislator with a soft Southern drawl who could be a near-constant irritant to those not in line with his conservative causes and principles. Now, he has begun gearing up for the next fight.

....

In its 2007 study, the Heritage Foundation estimated that an immigration overhaul could cost taxpayers roughly $2.5 trillion, and that staggering sum is credited with helping provide a rationale to kill the legislation. Though Republican politicians and other groups have since criticized the research as flawed, the Heritage Foundation plans to release a new version of the study soon.

Parker set quite a low bar for "nasty" debate, at least on the anti-amnesty side, which seems to include citizens actually trying to read the legislation online.

But the 2007 immigration debate quickly became heated, and at times nasty. Legislators yelled at one another on the Senate floor. At one point, a Drudge Report link to a news release from Mr. DeMint’s office, calling the bill “amnesty,” crashed the Congressional servers because it was so widely read.