It seemed a lot simpler a year ago. Many Americans still believed the administration was serious about the Global War on Terror, and serious about securing our national borders as an important step towards protecting our homeland.
When President Bush announced in his May 20, 2006 nationwide radio address that thousands of new border patrol agents would be hired, it sounded like a security issue...
"For decades the United States has not been in complete control of its borders," Bush warned in a subsequent televised address, as he announced that 6,000 National Guard members would step in to assist with border security, and billions would be spent securing the border. This sweeping initiative would also include developing high-tech surveillance tools, and sophisticated spying and sensing technology. Yes, the administration was dead-serious about border security and the Global War on Terror.
The raging debate over the Immigration bill taking place in conservative circles today, if you look closely and brush back the "security" and "enforcement" BS, is primarily concerned with whether the current Immigration bill will "bring home the bacon" for the Republicans, and help them win the next Presidential election, or not.
In other words, conservatives are willing to whore themselves and allow Immigration reform to take place if the price is right -- now we just have to agree on the price.
According to conservative Townhall.com columnist Bruce Bartlett, Immigration Reform as it stands now in Congress just doesn't pay off in enough votes gained to warrant conservatives' support. Bartlett feels that Bush is pushing the current reform not out of a concern over border security, but simply to gain votes! In an apparently unguarded moment Bartlett reveals that he, like Bush, weighs the merits of the bill in terms of potential votes gained or lost in the 2008 election, not in terms of the extent to which it does or doesn't secure our border with Mexico. He and Bush just apparently disagree on the "payoff".
Bartlett, (emphasis mine):
Bush will no doubt explain to congressional Republicans that they must vote for the immigration bill without taking any time to study or analyze it because otherwise they will forever lose the large and rapidly growing Hispanic vote.
According to a Census Bureau report released last week, Hispanics are now the largest minority group in America. There are 44.3 million of them compared to 40.2 million blacks and 14.9 million Asians. Furthermore, the number of Hispanics is growing faster. Between 2005 and 2006, their population grew 3.4 percent. Meanwhile, the non-Hispanic white population grew just 0.3 percent. Consequently, Hispanics accounted for almost half the total U.S. population growth during this period--1.4 million out of a total population increase of 2.9 million.
Perhaps if there were some reason to believe that Hispanics would be so grateful for this immigration bill that they will vote heavily Republican for years to come, then it might be worth supporting purely out of political expediency. But there is no reason whatsoever to believe that this will be the case, since the Democratic Congress will at least get equal credit for passage.
I thought Immigration reform was about securing our borders in a time of national crisis?
Not here, and not now. Not for these Republicans.
What Bartlett reveals, in an 800 word column in which the word "border" is not mentioned once, is that the multi-billion dollar initiative the administration pushed forward under the guise of "securing our borders" is actually nothing more than a Republican effort to buy the Hispanic vote.
And by Bartlett's reckoning the payoff won't result in enough votes gained, therefore the bill should be defeated.
It's worth remembering that despite Bush's support for an immigration bill last year congressional Republicans only got 30 percent of the Hispanic vote versus 69 percent for Democrats [in the 2006 election]. This was a sharp decline from the 44 percent of the Hispanic vote Bush got in 2004. Thus whatever gratitude Hispanics might have for him because of his support for immigration reform, it is not going to transfer to other Republicans.
This looks like the Medicare debacle all over again to me. Bush is going to put the screws to principled conservatives to ram a piece of repugnant legislation through Congress in order to gain votes that are never going to emerge. Hispanics are going to vote overwhelmingly for Democrats whether this bill passes or doesn't. And to the extent that it enlarges the Hispanic voting population, Republicans will be cutting their own throats.
Even before the deal on immigration was reached, I was forecasting a Republican loss for the White House in 2008. Passage of the immigration bill means that it will be many years indeed before Republicans retake Congress.
Had the likelihood of gaining Hispanic votes through Immigration Reform been sufficient to make a significant difference in the 2008 Presidential in terms of Republican votes gained, then Bartlett would no doubt be humming a different tune on this issue. As it is... the payoff just isn't good enough
And here some of us thought it was all about securing our borders... tsk, tsk, our bad.
For Republicans like Bartlett, Immigration Reform is all about securing a Republican bid for the White House instead, and it should be no surprise that he's willing to whore his "border security" principals -- for the right price. Conservatives would rather see this bill defeated, and leave our borders ostensibly less secure, because they perceive that Democrats might gain votes as a side effect of securing our borders.
Apparently the War on Terror, to Republicans, takes second place to their war with the Democrats for the White House in 2008.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!