Yet if Republicans wish to hold Congress, despite what they may deserve, the Bushites could do no better than to borrow from the Santorum playbook. What can Bush and Congress do in 60 days?
One, publicly set aside the amnesty and guest worker provisions of the McCain-Kennedy bill. Bush cannot get them passed by the House in any event. Second, extract and enact the most urgent and popular provisions of both the Senate and House bills.
Bush should request $3 billion to $4 billion to start a security fence along all major crossing points for drug-dealers, coyotes and illegals. Then have Homeland Security begin systematic and public deportation of felons and gang members who are not U.S. citizens. Tattooed thugs being put on planes in cuffs will do the GOP and nation a world of good.
The FBI can provide the names. It has been tracking MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, the most vicious and violent gang in the hemisphere, with tens of thousands of members in the United States, for a year now.
Then call on Congress to reclaim its authority to denaturalize and deport any new citizen whose conduct -- applauding Al Qaeda or engaging in gang activity -- suggests they lied to become U.S. citizens. Bush could then tour the border again and, this time, shake hands with a few of the Minutemen patriots he earlier derided as "vigilantes." Unfortunately for the GOP, Rove & Co. believe that if Republicans take the hard line on illegal immigration that Pete Wilson took in 1994, the GOP will be as dead nationally as it has been lately in California. They forget: Wilson converted a 20-point deficit into a 10-point victory, captured both houses of the legislature and brought in four new GOP congressmen.
Arnold is the only other Republican to win statewide since then, and he ran against driver's licenses for illegals. No Republican who has taken the Rove-La Raza line has ever won the Golden State. Why is the GOP so mindlessly pursuing a transparently losing strategy?
In pandering to La Raza, Rove may be playing for the long run. But as Lord Keynes said, in the long run we are all dead, which is where Republicans are headed if they don't get it right on this issue. Like Rick Santorum.