“Using the word ‘self-deportation’ — it’s a horrific comment to make,” Priebus told reporters, according to Business Insider. “I don’t think it has anything to do with our party. When someone makes those comments, obviously, it’s racist.”
Priebus has been working hard to push the party to the center on immigration ever since President Obama dominated the Hispanic vote in November. But his latest comments put him on dangerous ground.
For one thing, there’s nothing obviously “racist” about the phrase “self-deportation” itself. It was actually a pretty accurate description of Romney’s preferred policy as championed by Republican officials like Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Their position was that if you pass state and federal laws to make life difficult for undocumented immigrants, then hopefully they’ll leave. You might disagree with the policy, but there’s nothing explicitly racial in Romney’s description of it.
But here’s where Priebus really runs into trouble. If Romney was “racist” in 2012, so was practically the entire Republican party. Romney’s position was such standard fare at the time that it made it into the RNC’s party platform—you know, the platform Priebus oversaw as chairman.
Of course, an even bigger is the actually racist immigration positions of Republicans like Iowa's Steve King, who seems to think undocumented Latino immigrants are all drug dealers with huge calves. But hey, Drive The All New Reince Priebus seems bound and determined to make sure that everybody blames the GOP when the immigration bill dies screaming in the House.
I don't have a problem with that.