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Republican base hones its conservative credentials

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted June 4, 2007

In her controversial piece "Too Bad", Wall Street Journal writer Peggy Noonan makes some notable points about President Bush and the pro-amnesty wing of the GOP that have no qualms about besmirching the majority of the Republican rank-and-file (the conservative base of the party) that are attempting to kill that horrific "comprehensive" Immigration bill before the Senate.

Welcome to the world of Republican infighting. The smear/distortion machine led up by President Bush and his acolytes on Immigration reform are out-and-about making noises, hurling insults at opponents, and operating out of emotionalism simply because they can't effectively defend their position. Why? Because they don't have a good case! Hence, the poppycock they're flinging about. Bush said the opponents of the bill (that's code for the conservatives), "don't want to do what's right for America," which is patently silly. Bush et al are frustrated and they're lashing out in a nasty, immature manner. And it's got to hurt that polling shows that the general population is more or less in sync with the conservatives on this particular matter, with emphasis on securing the border first.

Moreover, the pro-amnesty wing of the Republican Party thinks they're playing hardball politics when, in fact, they're making fools out of themselves by casting aspersion upon the conservative GOP base. Remember, we're the same Republican rank-and-file that has actively supported Bush while most of America, and the world for that matter, have disparaged and scorned him during this ongoing battle in Iraq. You would think there would be a little bit of gratitude on the part of the administration, but in the rough and tumble world of GOP politics, there isn't any. The truth is that Republicans often enjoy taking potshots at each other – go figure. You would have to attend a Republican committee meeting to know that it's part of the political culture. Anyway, we have been the president's staunch allies on most issues, except when he strays from conservative principles, as he is blatantly doing now with this Immigration bill gobbledygook.

Peggy Noonan lists some of the more unseemly remarks made by the Immigration bill's proponents, for the purpose of vilifying conservative opponents: "Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, "We're gonna tell the bigots to shut up." On Fox last weekend he vowed to "push back." Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested opponents would prefer illegal immigrants be killed; Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said those who oppose the bill want "mass deportation." Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said those who oppose the bill are "anti-immigrant" and suggested they suffer from "rage" and "national chauvinism." What a bunch of malarkey they're spewing! And it's all aimed at demonizing and diminishing anyone who gets in their way.

Conservatives stand for the rule of law – We're pro-legal immigrant, not anti-immigrant as detractors paint us. And, of course, we're for stemming the tide of government growth, not increasing it. That being said, conservatives are profoundly opposed to saddling the American taxpayers with colossal government costs, which will be necessary to address these impoverished illegal aliens and their immediate family members (spouse and children) if this bill goes through. Essentially, America would be importing poverty at unprecedented levels, with a price tag estimated to be in the trillions over the next few decades. We would have to anticipate that these 12-20 million illegals would quickly morph into a pool of about 50 million, which would then represent a new underclass and a significant demographic in this nation. Just imagine if "chain migration" were in play, with brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins coming in? Then America might just as well annex the whole of Mexico and take care of their entire population, because that would be the net effect.

Under discussion is much more than just "amnesty". Noteworthy, the real prize that the illegal aliens are seeking is not citizenship – It's "legal status", which the illegals will obtain immediately at the stroke of a pen, if President Bush gets his way. This legal status is the "open sesame" command that grants them access to the entitlement treasure trove of Social Security, Medicare and welfare services, which are already in financial crisis. Thus, any illegal alien is going to be amply rewarded. And when you incentivize behaviors, expect more of those same behaviors to manifest. In other words, this bill will only entice more people to enter our nation illegally – It's not going to suppress this activity if there's an open border available.

An editorial dated May 25, 2007 at National Review online is very informative on the proposed Immigration legislation: "At Thursday's press conference, President Bush declared, ‘So this legislation requires that border-security and worker-verification targets are met before other provisions of the bill are triggered.' That is untrue. Illegal aliens can get ‘probationary' legal status as soon as the bill is enacted. Because every illegal alien present in the country is presumptively eligible for legal status, the enforcement of immigration laws will be effectively suspended. To get this status, illegal immigrants must only clear a one-day background check. No fines or penalties must be paid. It is impossible to believe that millions of people will have this legal status revoked if the promised improvements in enforcement are never realized."

Enforcement? Have we ever properly enforced border security or dealt effectively with the illegal alien problem? Maybe back in the Eisenhower administration. But it's now incumbent on us to get control of the border, especially in light of the war-on-terror and the threats to our national security. Representative Duncan Hunter notes that President Bush signed legislation on 10/26/06 calling for the extension of the San Diego fence another 854 miles. Only 11 miles have been built to date – which is ludicrous – and demonstrates the government's lack of commitment to sealing off our border with Mexico. Reportedly, after the San Diego fence was built, crime dropped off precipitously in that city. Pursuant to our national security, Rep. Hunter rightly points out that we need to know who is entering this nation and what they're bringing in with them.

Now back to Peggy Noonan's article: She's absolutely right in her assertion that the Bush administration is looking to shore up its legacy with Immigration reform in view of the president's very unpopular leadership on Iraq. However, the notion that Bush has truly "broken" with the Republican rank-and-file seems to be rather a stretch. He certainly hasn't "torn the conservative coalition asunder." Most Republicans understand that Bush is still the leader of the party, and they'll want to support him whenever he demonstrates conservative core values, and that's actually on most issues. For me, it's evocative of the line from the movie "Married to the Mob" - "Angela (in this case, George), we're your friends, whether you like it or not". Just a little New York humor, which is bound to ruffle some feathers. In any case, irrevocable harm has not been done to either the party or to the rank-and-file's relationship with Bush. Quite to the contrary – The GOP base now feels empowered to do a shake-out of Republican politicos come next election that don't abide by basic conservative tenets, which entail a commitment to lower taxes, less government, and bolstering our national security.

The president has done admirably in prosecuting the overall war-on-terror, and most of the Republican base even backs him on the Iraq campaign. We haven't been hit by al-Qaida on our home soil since 9/11 thanks to President Bush's leadership, his national security policies and the vigilance of his administration. In addition, despite the incessant carping and nitpicking by the liberal mainstream media, our economy is actually rolling along quite favorably. That being said, my hunch is that the Republican rank-and-file will be eager to lend him their continued support, at least on those key issues of national security and the economy. But it goes without saying that if the president is clearly at odds with conservative principles on any given matter, he can expect blowback from the party's base. ESR

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.

 

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