Maggie Gallagher gets the Inkwell award for today’s most intriguing lead: “WHY did the immigration bill fail? Ask Paris Hilton.”

And actually Maggie, using Ms. Hilton, makes a pretty convincing point:

“Now, when I saw the young woman crying for her mother, I felt sorry for her. Yes, Hilton needs to know she has to respect the law, but three days in jail for someone like her is certainly enough to teach her a lesson. Suffice it to say, most Americans felt differently, and in their intense negative reactions there’s a clue to the similar intense public outrage on immigration.

“The American people are not racists. They don’t hate immigrants. They believe in the rule of law, yes. But there’s an even more basic issue raised by both the immigration bill and Paris Hilton’s untimely release: To whom does our government respond?

“To the connected few? Or to us, the American people?”

On the immigration legislation, according to Maggie, the pols weren’t listening to the people:

“Powerful bipartisan majorities of Americans have repeatedly told pollsters that our top priority in immigration is to reduce the illegal inflow and enforce the border. Rasmussen found that 72 percent of voters said it was ‘very important’ for ‘the government to improve its enforcement of the borders.’ Just 29 percent think it’s very important to address the legal status of people already here.

“…By contrast, the political class obsessed about changing the legal status of the people already here – i.e., the way to end illegal immigration is to legalize it. The arguments they’ve made either insult the American people or sound self-serving and, in many cases, downright incredible. (For me, the low point was hearing Tamar Jacoby argue that we need more low-paid, low-skilled workers to ‘grow the economy.’ Gee, you mean our public schools just aren’t doing a good enough job of producing those on their own?)”

Just to show how wishy washy I am on immigration: As much as I enjoyed Maggie’s tour de force, I do think Jacoby makes some good points: She believes that it is wrong to have such a large population of illegal immigrants living in a subculture outside the law. Here and here are two of Jacoby’s pieces.