Robert Bluey

The amnesty deal negotiated by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and the White House has Karl Rove’s fingerprints all over it. Plain and simple, it’s bad public policy being used to advance a political agenda.

We’ve seen this happen before, most notably in 2003 when Rove and President Bush strong-armed Republicans in Congress into supporting the largest entitlement program since the days of LBJ’s Great Society. The Medicare prescription drug bill, conservative critics were told, would guarantee Republicans the majority for decades.

Three years later, the GOP was knocked out of power in Congress, and if the party keeps heading down the same path, it’s destined to lose the White House in 2008.

You’d think Republicans would have learned their lesson when voters sent them packing last Election Day. But as the immigration debate clearly demonstrates, the White House is once again intent on vastly expanding government to achieve a political goal.

What’s remarkable is that attacks on conservatives as “restrictionists” and “nativists” were spread not just by liberals last week. The pro-amnesty Wall Street Journal used its editorial page to attack the very people who are trying to defend the rule of law. The Bush administration also hammered away at anyone who questioned the bill’s amnesty-first approach toward illegal aliens.

What’s driving the White House to fight its base? Bush and Rove have adopted a short-term political plan of wooing Hispanics and a long-range mission to cement the president’s legacy.

As Bush loyalist and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman recently argued, “Reaching out to Hispanics is critical to our future. The fastest-growing, and most conservative, segment of the population are natural Republicans. The question is whether we will reach out and welcome these new voters into our ranks.”

Mehlman favors a comprehensive approach to immigration reform -- as do many conservatives, including The Heritage Foundation. However, Mehlman’s characterizing the policy as a way of welcoming “new voters into our ranks” reveals what’s wrong with using legislation to advance political ends.

Robert Bluey

Robert B. Bluey is director of the Center for Media & Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation and maintains a blog at