Yeah, But Will Rational Play With The Crazies?
“When the border patrol stand up, our National Guard troops will stand down” was what I got out of President Bush’s address on immigration that he gave to the nation earlier tonight. It almost seems as if I’ve heard that before somewhere. If this guy ever came up with an original idea, or even better, a good original idea, I’d fall off my chair and break my butt, as my son is fond of saying.
The President laid out his plan to resolve the immigration problem and his solution involves sending unarmed National Guard troops down to secure the border, a guest worker program, ID cards for immigrant workers, penalties for employers and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants that are already here, have put down roots and are willing to pay a fine as well as learn English. It sounds pretty reasonable, except the learning English part, I mean really, if it's not mandatory for the President, it shouldn't be mandatory for immigrants. And then there's the fact that our National Guard is already stretched too thin without putting more stress on them, AND Republicans never actually enforce penalties for employers, AND a guest worker program is problematic, but still, there's nothing too radical in his proposals. Although, I do tend to get nervous when this President starts talking about troops on the borders, people having value regardless of what their “papers” imply, rooting out “others” and ID cards, but that’s just me, I’m always looking three steps down this frightening road.
From a political standpoint, this was a terrible speech for a time when the only approval he’s got a chance of holding onto, is his base of 29%. The timing was good though, got old Rover’s looming indictment and the smoking gun of sorts in the CIA leak case (with Cheney’s handwriting literally all over it) pushed back a bit on the cable news shows. But even that didn’t turn out right because it was a transparently political speech meant to be a diversion. Poor Georgie, he can’t win for losing.
The interesting thing is that I didn’t disagree with everything he had to say, a first for me. We do need to control our borders and we do need to give those that are here illegally a path to citizenship, although I’m not completely sold on a guest worker program. I’m afraid that by allowing an underclass to develop in this country, telling people that they are good enough to mow our lawns but not good enough to be one of us, we will end up creating more problems than we solve. It is a complicated issue and I am willing to hear all sides before I make up my mind, I just hope it is debated in a calm, rational manner, without the racist overtones and without the political pandering that will hinder any real workable solution from ever becoming policy.
I’m curious to see what the reaction will be from Republicans though. Will it be enough to satisfy the Pat Buchanan wing of the Party that is fearful of “others” taking over our country? Will the rich Republicans that love cheap labor be okay with having stiff penalties for hiring illegal immigrants? It seemed to me that Bush’s address was a rare reach across the aisle that might just cause a further erosion of his already decimated approval rating. He has virtually no chance of winning over Democrats at this point, leaving only his racist and greedy base to prop up his Presidency. If they leave him over this and his poll numbers plummet, Bush’s demise could end up being the result of his one and only attempt to be a uniter. Now wouldn’t that be ironic?