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June 01, 2007

Peggy Noonan Rips Bush Anew, Asserting He's Turned On Us

She's done so before, of course. But this time, it's personal.

What political conservatives and on-the-ground Republicans must understand at this point is that they are not breaking with the White House on immigration. They are not resisting, fighting and thereby setting down a historical marker--"At this point the break became final." That's not what's happening. What conservatives and Republicans must recognize is that the White House has broken with them. What President Bush is doing, and has been doing for some time, is sundering a great political coalition. This is sad, and it holds implications not only for one political party but for the American future.

The White House doesn't need its traditional supporters anymore, because its problems are way beyond being solved by the base. And the people in the administration don't even much like the base. Desperate straits have left them liberated, and they are acting out their disdain. Leading Democrats often think their base is slightly mad but at least their heart is in the right place. This White House thinks its base is stupid and that its heart is in the wrong place.

For almost three years, arguably longer, conservative Bush supporters have felt like sufferers of battered wife syndrome. You don't like endless gushing spending, the kind that assumes a high and unstoppable affluence will always exist, and the tax receipts will always flow in? Too bad! You don't like expanding governmental authority and power? Too bad. You think the war was wrong or is wrong? Too bad.

But on immigration it has changed from "Too bad" to "You're bad."

The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic--they "don't want to do what's right for America." His ally Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, "We're gonna tell the bigots to shut up." On Fox last weekend he vowed to "push back." Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested opponents would prefer illegal immigrants be killed; Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said those who oppose the bill want "mass deportation." Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said those who oppose the bill are "anti-immigrant" and suggested they suffer from "rage" and "national chauvinism."

Why would they speak so insultingly, with such hostility, of opponents who are concerned citizens? And often, though not exclusively, concerned conservatives? It is odd, but it is of a piece with, or a variation on, the "Too bad" governing style. And it is one that has, day by day for at least the past three years, been tearing apart the conservative movement.

She concludes by noting that, like his father, Bush has squandered his political inheritance by erroneously believing the conservative base supported him rather than a series of policies that he, we hoped, would advance.

And also that that the break with Bush will require some sort of psychological repair:

Now conservatives and Republicans are going to have to win back their party. They are going to have to break from those who have already broken from them. This will require courage, serious thinking and an ability to do what psychologists used to call letting go. This will be painful, but it's time. It's more than time.

Actually Bush has disobligated us from any letting-go process by making the break not just intellectual but emotional -- the charge that his last few supporters "don't want what's best for America" goes a long way to drying up the last few remaining drops of goodwill many conservatives have for him.

As usual, Bush is taking a "Trust me, everything will work out fine" approach to this mess, the same approach he took, for example, on pushing for individual retirement accounts -- a quite good idea, I think, overall -- but never really addressing how the government would pay for the $1.3 trillion in transition costs as it used the same dollar to pay benefits twice (once to the current retirees already scheduled to receive the dollar, and once again to younger workers who would, under this plan, now be receiving that dollar to put in their own retirement accounts). Democratic demagoguing on the plan was the main culprit in sinking it, but Bush hardly helped the cause by remaining stubbornly silent on where this $1.3 trillion would be coming from.

The main objection to the amnesty bill is not, for many conservatives, the actual amnesty. I acknowlege that, for many other conservatives, that is in fact the main objection; I'm not dismissing such conservatives, so much as suggesting that were Bush to court the first sort by addressing our concerns and, frankly, demands, he'd actually have majority support within the Republican Party for his plan. He wouldn't have a united conservative movement behind him, but 50% is a decent number, and probably the best he could hope for with such a controversial bill. And certainly 50% is better than, what?, 10%?

Many conservatives object to the bill because it does very little at all to increase immigration enforcement. And increased immigration enforcement is desperately needed -- particularly if the amnesty passes. Having created an amnesty, it is undeniable that a flood of new immigrants will come to the country illegally, expecting, not altogether unreasonably, that they'll have their own amensty shortly enough (or even now, given that fact it simply takes a few forged documents -- easily had by illegal workers who've been forging documents for years -- to "establish" residency in the US prior to this past January).

And what does the Administration propose to do about this new wave of illegals? As Mickey Kaus keeps rehoritcally asking John McCain, "Do you plan on deporting all these new illegals?" Apparently not, as McCain, Kennedy, and Bush stand united behind the principle that mass deportations of illegal aliens would be simply too monstrous to even consider.

So: As they won't be deported, presumably they'll be allowed to stay; so we'll simply have 12 (or is it 30? or 40? Who knows?) million amnestied aliens, plus millions upon millions of non-amnestied new illegal immigrants.

We'll bring the 12/20/30/40 million current illegal aliens "out of the shadows" simply to replace them with with 20/30/40/60 million fresh shadow-dwelling illegals.

And, if I'm to believe the rhetoric of Mssrs. Bush, McCain, and Kennedy, it's this "in the shadows" thing that is the most pressing problem America faces. But their own proposed legislation simply creates millions more of this awful "in the shadows" class of illegals without explaining how they will be chased out of the shadows back to their sunny home countries or (as they expect, as do many conservatives) they'll be brought "out from the shadows" in America itself within five or ten years in a fresh amnesty.

Bush's reply to this not-entirely-unreasonable concern? "Trust me, it will all work itself out. Somehow."

That suggestion works a bit when suggested by an omnicompetent type like Indiana Jones. When uttered by a proven incompetent, such as Bush (and, frankly, McCain and Kennedy, the latter two not so much incompetent as quite competent in thwarting the desires of the conservative movement), "Trust Me" is not an acceptable programmatic plan.

The current amnesty bill refuses to address what will happen to the millions of fresh non-amnestied illegal immigrants, or to the million or so current illegals who are, due to criminality or the inevible forging of documents to claim pre-January-2007 residence, supposedly not be eligible for amnesty. What will we do with them? We know we will not be deporting them; this is what the "bigots" want, as Lindsey Graham tells us, and the architects of this plan pride themselves on their nonbigotedness. Further, all attempts to insert speedy-deportment provisions of non-amnestied illeglas have been blocked from the bill by its liberal proponents.

There is no wall to deter future border-crossers.

There are no adequate "virtual fence" provisions to stop new illegals, unless one believes that four (count 'em, four!) UAVs are quite enough to patrol the rather longish US-Mexican border.

There is no system of tough internal enforcement to deport future lawbreakers.

There is will on the part of the administration to enforce the inadequate laws we already have -- Mike Chertoff is already crowing that this legislation will free him up from any minor illegal-immigrant-captures his numerous agencies are currently making in order to focus exclusively on "drug-runners" and "terrorists."

So what will become of all those millions of non-amnestied aliens?

Pardon me. Mr. Bush, for believing your "plan" to deal with these millions upon millions of fresh "in the shadows" illegal aliens is itself very shadowy.

And deliberately so, it seems. Bush's claims of a tangible new immigration enforcement policy seem, themselves, to be "hiding in the shadows."

And we know, upon his authority, that shadows are bad.

I suppose demanding answers from my elected representatives on major watershed likely-transformative legislation proves I don't "want what's best for America." But I'm afraid I'll have to be a bad-America-wanter and insisting you answer just the same.


Bonus: A reprint of a 1984 editorial -- "There Shall Be Open Borders." Emphasis added.

The WSJ, having tipped its hand as to its real position on this 25 years ago, can hardly claim now that it's really super-psyched about all the enhanced border security Bush's abortion supposedly provides us.

I have to imagine the NRO team will bring that up in their upcoming debate with the WSJ's open-borders crowd.

Another Bonus: Hot Air (from which I cribbed most of the above links, via its new Headlines feature) has a video from Jim Angle's report last night on Britt Hume regarding the daffy "North Amerian Union" conspiracy theories.

While I don't believe in such a thing, I do have to say that Bush's policies are tending to creating a "United States of The Americas" in a de facto sort of way.

A government that does not distinguish between citizens and non-citizens has essentially opened citizenship up to the entire world -- or, at least, to anyone in the world willing to break uneforced US laws.


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posted by Ace at 11:03 AM

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