An anonymous White House official said that neither the people on the far left nor far right are going to get what they want on the immigration bill. Could have fooled me, since that farthest of far leftists, Sen. Ted Kennedy, said, "This bill is our best chance to fix our broken system." Go figure.
Truly, President Bush's immigration policy has always been mystifying, but even more troubling is his attitude toward its conservative opponents.
I don't suggest that President Bush has a duty to cater to conservatives on immigration because they have stood by him on the war. This isn't about conservatives or political reciprocation, but what's best for the nation.
But I do believe the president should hesitate before assuming the worst of motives in the very people who have tirelessly defended him, particularly on the war, against the people who are now his best friends on this abominable immigration bill. Sadly, this is nothing new. Too often there is an inverse relationship between the level of graciousness President Bush metes out versus that he receives. He sometimes reserves his harshest words for his allies.
Such was the case when he attacked his conservative critics of the bill. But because I continue to believe President Bush is an honorable man pursuing policies he believes are right, I don't question his good intentions on immigration. Too bad he doesn't likewise give the benefit of the doubt to conservatives opposing him. I believe he is wrong both about the bill and the mindset and motives of most conservatives opposing it.
President Bush is wrong that conservatives are trying "to frighten people" into opposing the bill. They are trying to jolt lawmakers into recognizing the inevitable destructiveness of the bill, to national security, the rule of law and the long-term solvency and cultural cohesiveness of this nation.
President Bush is wrong that those who "want to kill the bill" are not doing "what's right for America." He's got it exactly backward when he says opponents are looking "at a narrow slice" of the bill because they are "determined to find fault" with it. The only things that appear redeeming about this monstrosity are insignificant "narrow slices" that are wholly outweighed by the bill's noxious provisions. If we must use the term "narrow slices" in connection with this legislation, we should do so to describe that narrow slice of border fence that has been built or is likely to be built in the reasonably near future as opposed to the hundreds of miles that were promised.
Certain supporters of the bill are also egregiously out of line in ascribing racist or nativist motives to opponents, who at worst can be accused of striving to preserve the unique American culture, which, by the way, prides itself in being color blind and guaranteeing equal protection under the law irrespective of race or ethnicity.
Proponents are wrong and grossly irresponsible for downplaying the fiscal burden this bill will place on an already entitlement-beleaguered federal budget. While proponents are busy quibbling over the semantic appropriateness of the opponents' use of the term "amnesty," they are conveniently sidestepping the assaults on the rule of law the bill will entail. And while proponents are accusing opponents of mischaracterizing the bill, it is the opponents who are pretending the bill will reduce family-based, assimilation-unfriendly immigration and increase merit-based, assimilation-friendly immigration, when it will do precisely the opposite.
Proponents are firing epithets at opponents and accusing them of emotionalizing the issue, but again, the reverse is true. The proponents are the ones avoiding the facts and the very real concerns voiced by opponents. Many conservative proponents are blinded to real dangers in the bill by their monomaniacal attachment to economic growth at any cost. Others seem to have a romantic fixation with our heritage of immigration and wrongly interpret opposition to illegal and anarchically unregulated immigration as a betrayal of our national compact.
Opponents of this bill are not anti-immigrant, nativists, enemies of business or backwoods restrictionists. They are Americans who are fighting to preserve the unique American culture and will not be intimidated by the politically correct tactics and race-baiting of many of the proponents. At the very least they are fighting to preserve: 1) a cultural commitment to the principles embodied in the greatest constitution ever written and adopted by man and 2) a societal consensus in the absolute moral values undergirding that instrument, which are inspired by a belief in God and the dignity of human beings created in His image.
Opponents are acting in good faith, and they deserve better -- and so does America.