Somehow, it isn't fair that with illegal immigration now a defining issue of American politics, the one politician more than any other who has taught Americans to re-imagine their land as a nation with controllable borders is trailing in the GOP presidential polls. I refer, of course, to Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, whose congressional career has been guided by a once-seemingly impossible goal: to convince Americans that we had an illegal immigration problem.
This was something many Americans -- from the business community, with its addiction to cheap labor, to the great middle class, with its addiction to cheap childcare and household help -- all too readily denied.
If convincing people we had an illegal immigration crisis wasn't hard enough, he also had to persuade people there was a solution to this problem of porous borders that 10 or 20 million mainly Spanish-speaking illegal aliens had crossed -- and are still crossing. What are you gonna do, his detractors would say, build a fence?
Well, yes. That was one idea. And while that fence has yet to be built, it has been voted into law and signed by the president (despite his open-border self). In the course of the debate, Tancredo has helped many Americans once again think of the United States as a sovereign nation, not a honey pot -- a worthy testament to a congressional career that he will be bringing to an end by not seeking re-election.
But what about Tancredo's presidential campaign? This week, he debuted a new TV commercial challenging voters, as well as his fellow candidates, to link the illegal alien issue to the national security threat of jihadist terrorism. And despite this being the age of jihadist terrorism, Tancredo's TV spot is a first. It highlights the fact that our borders are open to more than just cheap labor by depicting the ease with which a terrorist enters a shopping mall -- like other terrorists entered the London Underground, the Spanish trains, a school in Russia -- to deposit a backpack-bomb that explodes at the end of the commercial. The message is refreshingly direct: "Tancredo. Before it's too late."
Yes, there is something surreal about the commercial, but not because of the content. What is surreal is the hysteria that has greeted it. After 9/11, 3/11, 7/7, Amman, Amsterdam, Baghdad, Bali, Beslan, Davao, Hadera, Haifa, Jakarta, Jerusalem, Nairobi, New Dehli, Sharm al-Sheik, Tel Aviv, Tunisia and more, what dolt doesn't wonder if and when jihadist cowards will attack our own trains, markets, hotels and restaurants? Tom Tancredo has only taken the mature and responsible course -- not coincidentally, also the politically incorrect course -- by raising this deadly serious issue with the American people. But for this he is castigated as a "fear-monger."
Indeed, as if on cue, the Tancredo-hostile Denver Post editorialized: "New Tancredo ad is a sad case of fear-mongering," adding that Tancredo had "reached a new low -- if that's possible."
"Is Tom Tancredo Too `Tough on Terror'?" blogged the Washington Post. Conclusion to reach: Way too tough.
The Los Angeles Times quoted one Dennis Goldford, a professor of politics at Drake University in Des Moines, who described the Tancredo commercial as "an incredibly fear-based kind of advertisement that some might say is trying to terrorize people into supporting his view." This is rich. Acknowledging terrorism as act of terrorism: Professor, grade yourself an "F."
Meanwhile, the Rocky Mountain News didn't claim even a shred of impartial coverage, sub-heading its report on the Tancredo commercial: "Expert says terrorism images are so blatant commercial won't work." The "expert" here was Bruce Gronbeck, a communications professor at the University of Iowa who teaches a course on politics on the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks (heaven help his students). He said: "This is just blatant, raw fear images, and they've never worked in the United States, period."
"Fear-mongering." "Terrorizing people." "Blatant, raw fear images." The way the "experts" talk, they make it sound as if Tancredo is subjecting citizens to sick "Saw" dismemberment fantasies -- not the plain, awful reality of our tragically jihad-diminished day. Yes, our shopping malls are targets. And yes, our borders are porous. Ignoring this makes it easier to live in a world of pretend, but that's not traditionally where our best presidents have come from. Indeed, how does any credible, responsible presidential candidate ignore the potential connection between shopping-mall targets and porous borders?
Answer: At this nation's politically correct peril.