Archive for ‘amnesty’

November 16, 2008

To hell with Karl Rove

If you’ve met Karl Rove — as I did earlier this year at George Washington University — you know what an impressive person he is. The guy has an authoritative manner, and can talk politics very fluently, citing all sorts of historical and demographic facts to bolster his case.

Yet that does not, and certainly ought not, empower Rove to dictate policy to conservatives. In fact, this blurring of politics and policy in the Bush administration (for which Rove was significantly responsible) is one of the major causes of Republican “brand damage.” Here is Rove in Newsweek:

Republicans must find a way to support secure borders, a guest-worker program and comprehensive immigration reform that strengthens citizenship, grows our economy and keeps America a welcoming nation. An anti-Hispanic attitude is suicidal. As the party of Lincoln, Republicans have a moral obligation to make our case to Hispanics, blacks and Asian-Americans who share our values. Whether we see gains in 2010 depends on it.

Why do we need liberals, when we have Karl Rove to push liberal propaganda?

  • Opposition to amnesty is not an “anti-Hispanic attitude,” and to hell with any Republican who repeats that liberal lie. Illegal aliens are not citizens, and non-citizens cannot vote, and if anyone — whatever their ethnic background — wants to vote for a party that supports lawbreaking and opposes sovereignty, the Democrats already own that vote.
  • Amnesty does not “strengthen citizenship,” and it is oxymoronic to suggest any such thing.
  • Amnesty is not necessary to “keep America a welcoming nation.” The United States now admits legally about 800,000 immigrants every year. Whether that is a good policy or not is an argument entirely separate from the question of what to do about the approximately 15 million illegal aliens in the country. What part of “illegal” don’t you understand, Karl?
  • As to the need to “grow our economy” . . . well, heckuva job, Karl. When unemployment was below 5 percent, the argument for turning a blind eye to illegals might have had some traction, but as the nation’s plummets into its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, I’m thinking that’s not going to be such an easy sell.

Going back to February 2006, I remember the immigration panel at CPAC (a panel that included Mark Krikorian and Phyllis Schlafly) trying to explain that the administration’s support for amnesty was political poison. Yet the administration not only pushed amnesty in 2006, but even after being repudiated in the mid-term elections, came back and pushed again in 2007, then the GOP let the chief Senate sponsor of amnesty get the presidential nomination. And where were those Hispanic hordes stampeding to the polls to vote for Sen. Juan McAmnesty? Nowhere.

Transparent pandering on the wrong side of an issue is not a politically viable strategy for Republicans, since liberal Democrats can always outpander the GOP. If a majority of Hispanic voters are not supporting the Republican Party, the reasons have more to do with socioeconomic factors than with a monomaniacal support for amnesty among Hispanics. If the only way to get more Hispanic votes is to endorse subversive policies, then the GOP ought to be happy with the support of whatever minority of Hispanic voters oppose subversion.

Has it occurred to anyone — as it has apparently never occurred to Rove, Bush or McCain — that many law-abiding Hispanic citizens are insulted by politicians who pander to illegals? Certainly Puerto Ricans (born with U.S. citizenship) and Cubans (legal refugees and their descendants) have no personal stake in amnesty, and are undoubtedly troubled to hear Republicans like Rove insinuate that “Hispanic” and “illegal alien” are synonyms, so that to be anti-amnesty is to be anti-Hispanic.

Finally, Rove throws his appeal for amnesty into the same paragraph with the idea of appealing to black voters when — as anyone who bothers to talk to actual black people can easily discover — most black people are as outraged as anyone else over illegal immigration. People like Karl Rove apparently think black people are too stupid to catch the racist implications when Republicans go out of their way to praise the “family values” and “work ethic” of “law-abiding” illegals.

Message to Karl Rove: Just because you’re smart doesn’t mean other people are stupid.

UPDATE: Rusty says Karl Rove’s already been to hell. No, Rusty, you’re thinking of Scooter Libby.

UPDATE II: Both Donald Douglas and Steve in TN side with Rove, without addressing the central problem: On what basis does the GOP make an appeal to currently Democrat-leaning Hispanic voters that is consistent with conservative values? Where is the conservative issue that is going to make those Hispanics who are now voting 2-to-1 for Democrats reverse their preference?

Douglas accuses me of “stereotypical ignorance of Latinos” — heh!– and then references his own article arguing that “at least 20 percent of Latino voters are traditional conservatives with deep religious affiliations.” And the point is . . .?

The problem is not that Republicans are “blowing off” that 20% constituency, as Douglas says, rather it is the fact that the majority of Hispanics vote Democratic and always have. With all of his “strategery,” Rove never changed that. In his best year, 2004, Bush got 44% of the Hispanic vote. I haven’t done the math, but I’m betting that if you look at this year’s exit polls, calculate the effect if McCain had gotten that same 44% of Hispanic votes, Obama would still win by an Electoral College landslide.

Which is to say, Rove doesn’t have an answer to this problem, and the Hispanic vote does not actually explain why McCain lost the election. The real explanation, put simply, is that the Bush administration has made the Republican Party unpopular. Why is it that Karl Rove, who did so much to drive the GOP into this ditch, is trusted to tell the GOP how to get out of the ditch? It’s as if in the mid-’70s, Republicans were turning to H.R. Haldeman and John Erlichman for advice on how to recover from the Watergate scandal. Utter madness.

UPDATE III: Oh, you got to love this:

Luis Cortes, one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential American evangelicals and a strong Bush supporter, says immigration is the reason.
Today Cortes is coy when asked how he voted. He said the immigration issue shaped his vote. “Of course it did. But I’m not going to say anything else,” he said, then added, “I always vote in brown’s interest, meaning Latino people’s interest.”

Losing a pandering competition is worse than not pandering at all. Nobody respects a panderer.

November 11, 2008

Video: Palin on ‘Today’

I watched this interview this morning and noted her disturbing deployment of the Hispanic vote excuse:

Via Allahpundit, who says:

If you think she’s going to jettison her position on amnesty now that she’s free of Team Maverick’s clutches, I think you’re kidding yourself.

We shall see. I am betting that Governor Palin hasn’t spent much time chitchatting with Mark Krikorian about the blunt reality of immigration politics. Let’s face it, Anchorage isn’t being overrun by Mexicans wading across the Bering Straits. And it is thus easily possible that Palin hasn’t really sat down to ponder the net-gain/net-loss electoral calculus that exposes the Tamar Jacoby/Wall Street Journal open-borders stance as political suicide for Republicans.

Sarah Palin could get plenty of Hispanic votes in 2012 without having to engage in amnesty pandering. And if she wants to engage in amnesty pandering, she might as well stay in Wasilla, because there is no shortage of Republicans like Mike Huckabee who’ll compete for the open-borders sellout vote in the GOP primaries. Remember that Juan McAmnesty finished the primary campaign with just 47% of the vote. He “lost” the Republican primaries before he lost general election.

October 23, 2008

Grrrrr. Palin on illegals

Interviewed by Univision, she says she supports a “path to citizenship” for illegals:

There is no way that in the US we would roundup every illegal immigrant -there are about 12 million of the illegal immigrants- not only economically is that just an impossibility but that’s not a humane way anyway to deal with the issue that we face with illegal immigration.

Gov. Palin, you have been deceived by the pro-amnesty crowd, who love to present this issue as a false dilemma, where we must choose between (a) amnesty for illegals or (b) a massive round-up of millions of illegals. This ignores the alternative favored by most opponents of amnesty, namely the attrition or “self-deportation” approach:

  • Enhance border security, to slow the influx of illegals.
  • Step up “interior enforcement,” especially targeting major employers of illegal labor.
  • Authorize state and local officials to identify and detain illegals (which would result in greatly enhanced interior enforcement).
  • Disqualify illegals for public benefits.

We have seen, as in the example of Prince William County, Va., when local officials act to step up enforcement against illegals, the result is a net outflow of illegals. If similar measures could be enacted on a nationwide basis, many illegals — unable to find employment, housing, etc. — would leave the country (self-deportation) and there would be a corresponding decrease of new illegals arriving, as word-of-mouth spread in the sending countries.

Once a net outflow developed — more illegals self-deporting than arriving annually, so that the illegal population was steadily decreasing — two major benefits would become apparent. First, there would be decreased political pressure for amnesty. Second, voters would no longer feel that their communities were being overrun by an invasion.

If government at all levels could work toward this attrition strategy for a few years, it would alleviate the crisis mentality that has developed over the past 15 years. As long as our borders are so evidently out of control, with hundreds of thousands of new illegals arriving every year, citizens will rightly demand a crackdown, and it will be politically impossible to enact any kind of comprehensive overhaul of the system.

Even those who favor a “path to citizenship” for illegals (which I do not) must understand that voters will not support such a measure so long as the illegal population continues to increase daily. Those who dismiss voter concerns by talking about the impossibility of mass deportations are missing the point entirely.

October 19, 2008

John McCain still pushing amnesty

Interviewed by John Gizzi for Human Events:

Q: You were in the forefront of the comprehensive immigration package that died in the Senate in ’06. Now you are saying ‘border security’ first…
A:
That’s the reality. The reason it was rejected by the Senate was we didn’t give the American people the confidence that the borders would be secure. But, in all candor, you need to have a path to citizenship [for those] who come here illegally. And you need a temporary worker program.
Q: So will you send the Senate a “border security only” package?
A:
I’m still open to a comprehensive package. But I understand we have to sit down on this. We must secure the borders, we have to have a temporary worker program, we must round up and deport 2 million people who are here illegally and have committed crimes. But people who have gotten here illegally, obeyed the laws, learned English, lived here all their lives and have lived decent lives — they have to go through the naturalization process. They are God’s children.

He lives in an alternative universe, where one can (a) enter the country illegally yet (b) still be said to have “obeyed the laws.” Our immigration laws are laws, and violating the law is a crime, Senator. As they say on talk radio, “What part of ‘illegal’ don’t you understand?”

We had an amnesty in 1986, so who are these illegals who have “lived here all their lives”? Are we talking about 22-year-olds who crawled across the border in 1987? And people only “go through the naturalization process” when they desire to become citizens. So now he’s saying that not only are we going to stop deporting illegals, but they’re going to become citizens, too. If they weren’t willing to “go through the process” to get here legally, what makes him think they’re going to bother with the naturalization process?

If his pigheaded refusal to think clearly about this issue — must all “God’s children” live inside our borders, Senator? — ends up costing him the election, he will have no one but himself to blame.

October 18, 2008

Pundit war!

Ross Douthat and Patrick Ruffini and Mark Steyn go at it in a cage match of punditry today over accusations of establishment elitism in the conservative pundit class. There’s so much action it’s hard to know where to start, but let’s try Ruffini:

In the midst of the biggest financial meltdown since the Great Depression, conservative establishment pundits appear to blame John McCain’s inability to seal the deal not on the misfortune of being the candidate of the in-party of his thin track record on economic matters or his jarring response to the crisis, but on a hockey mom from Alaska. Who just happens to be part of the grassroots conservative / outsider / Mark Levin circle. Who, from a conservative point of view, happens to be the one bit of relief we’ve gotten from this crap sandwich of a political
environment that’s been going on for three years now.

Feel free to read the whole thing. Meanwhile, Douthat responds by arguing (naturally) in defense of the GOP elite:

[I]f you want Sarah Palin as your standard-bearer, you need a Brooks, or someone like him, at the table when her speeches are being written and her policy positions are being hashed out. You need elites, and you especially need elites who work and live outside the conservative cocoon, and who have a sense of how to talk to people who aren’t already persuaded that a vote for Obama is a vote for socialism and surrender.

I’m sure I’ve said this before somewhere, but just in case you missed it: F— you, Ross Douthat. F— you and your imperious assumption that only Harvard-educated a$$holes like yourself are capable of writing speeches and policy papers.

Listen to me, you arrogant punk: I used to be a Democrat. When you were still in diapers, I voted for Walter Mondale! Sixteen years ago, I had a Clinton-Gore bumper sticker plastered on my old Chevy Impala. Don’t you think I know a thing or two (and a helluva lot more than you) about what can persuade born-and-bred Democrats to abandon their class-warfare ideas and embrace limited government as the better answer to their grievances? “Libertarian populism,” look it up.

Something else, Ross: I’ve got T-shirts older than you, kid. Nothing has corrupted the conservative movement more than this tendency to grab super-bright 20-somethings right out of elite universities and elevate them to positions in the commentariat before they’ve passed any markers of adulthood other than graduating school. No wife, no kids, no mortgage, no work experience in any field outside journalism or public policy, and long before you’re 30, you — yes, you, Ross Douthat — are assumed to have the insight to tell the rest of us what’s what.

When I was your age, Ross, I was covering high-school sports in Calhoun, Ga., having previously worked as a forklift driver, nightclub DJ, rock-and-roll singer, furniture delivery man, and in just about every sort of food-service gig you can imagine. So when it comes to figuring out how to sell a conservative message to blue-collar voters, I’m not going to seek answers from a soft-handed punk from Connecticut sharing insights based on his experiences as an intern at National Review.

OK, my spleen feels much better now. So I’ll quit pounding on Douthat and let Mark Steyn take his turn:

[O]ur chattering classes are uniquely concentrated in Ross Douthat’s DC/NY corridor. Isn’t this a little odd? And doesn’t it pose particular problems for Republicans? Conservative elites live in liberal jurisdictions. . . . Whatever one feels about what Ross Douthat calls the “conservative cocoon”, it elects conservative mayors, conservative school boards, conservative road agents, conservative state reps, and conservative governors: it’s the only place to go to experience conservatism as applied in practice. On the other hand, Mr Douthat’s aforementioned corridor will once in a while elect a Michael Bloomberg or a Christie Whitman, and that’s it: conservatism remains strictly a theoretical proposition.
That’s why the metropolitan sneers about the size of Wasilla were extremely ill-advised, and not just because of the implication that the mayors of, say, New Orleans, San Francisco or Detroit are therefore more qualified to be in the White House. If it weren’t for small towns, suburbs and rural districts, there would be no conservative government at all.

Dead on target, and please feel free to read the whole thing. But Douthat — who is, in all truth, quite nearly as smart as he thinks he is — then comes back to clarify:

Sarah Palin’s Alaska is not the conservative cocoon. Neither is Tim Pawlenty’s Minnesota, or Mike Huckabee’s Arkansas, or any other place out in flyover country where a populist conservative became a popular and successful governor. The cocoon is the constellation of mutually-reinforcing conservative institutions – think tanks and advocacy groups, talk-radio shows and websites – that can create the same echo-chamber effect that the liberal media has long produced, and that at times makes it difficult for the Right to grapple with reality.

Here, then, Ross actually make a valid point. There is in fact a double echo-chamber effect, one where Republicans listen only to themselves, and another caused by the institutional biases of Washington:

See, Washington is like a big echo chamber. People sit around talking to their friends, and reading their own press releases, and next thing you know, they start thinking they’re so smart, and so powerful, and so important that they don’t have to pay attention to those microscopic pygmies called the voters. . . .

(That’s from a speech I gave to a Republican banquet in Winston-Salem, N.C., in December. I point this out, just in case anyone was harboring an illusion that only Harvard-educated a$$holes can write speeches.)

Republicans in Washington lost touch with the voters, but still kept winning elections for a while, and in the process, they developed a contempt for the people who elected them. This is the only possible explanation for the GOP’s repeated push for amnesty in 2006 and 2007. The people in Ohio who elected Mike DeWine to the Senate didn’t want amnesty, and when he voted for amnesty, the people in Ohio decided they didn’t want Mike DeWine.

It would be in the best interests of the Republican Party if all supporters of amnesty were defeated in GOP primaries. (F— you, Chris Cannon.) But if the party elite prefer cheap illegal workers to Republican voters, the GOP will find itself losing general elections.

So any discussion of why Barack Obama is winning this election must begin with a discussion of . . . personnel. And let me give you a clue: Sarah Palin is not the problem.

UPDATE: A third-party spoiler might cost Republican Sen. Gordon Smith re-election in Oregon. F— you, Gordon Smith.

UPDATE II: Daniel Larison:

One of the most important populist goals ought to be entitlement reform, since there are few things more threatening to the long-term well-being of the people than exploding entitlement costs, but that would entail controversy, political risk and telling the public unpleasant truths about the unsustainability of existing entitlements and the folly of adding on more. What distinguishes real populism from cheap demaoguery, among other things, is the willingness to tell people that they cannot have it all and to govern as if that were true.

Very good point. But Alabama’s playing Ole Miss now, so there’s no time to talk policy. I’ll leave that to the pointy-heads.

UPDATE III: Jennifer Rubin:

[C]onservative pundits in the NY-DC corridor should sneer less and learn more from “practicing” conservatives in the heartland. Put differently, if it there weren’t a lot of Sarah Palins, there wouldn’t be many people reading what the pundits write, let alone implementing their ideas. The alternative is that conservatism goes the way of Latin — a dead language.

There is a tendency of blue-state Republicans (and I’m thinking of Rudy Giuliani here) to think that the secret of GOP success is to impose their liberal views on cultural issues (immigration, gun control, gay rights, etc.) on the red-state majority of the party, while trying to pacify social conservatives with symbolic gestures (e.g., Terri Schiavo). This is what we call bass-ackward.

UPDATE IV: Linked at the American Thinker and Daniel Larison cracks back at “reflexive obeisance to whatever ill-considered Republican policy was being pushed by the leadership or administration at the time,” etc. Larison also throws in a dig that appears to reference my pan of Rod Dreher’s “crunchy conservatism.”

The crunchies can’t shake Dreher’s conceit (borrowed from the Keynesian Buddhist, E.F. Schumacher) that to advocate economic freedom is to endorse “the culture of acquisition and consumption.” Conservatism is a philosophy of government, not a matter of lifestyle preferences. Conservatism isn’t about buying organic groceries at Whole Foods or sitting around quoting Russell Kirk, it’s about constitutional government.

I’d love to argue more about this, but right now Alabama is fighting to hold on against Ole Miss in the fourth quarter, and if nothing else, I am a loyal Bamacon.

UPDATE V: Making enemies and influencing people — now Conor Friedersdorf is taking exception to my “I’ve got T-shirts older than you, kid” stance about the “corrupting influence” of young know-it-alls. I would remind Conor that Ralph Reed and Jack Abramoff got their start together in College Republicans. By the time Reed was 28, he was executive director of the Christian Coalition.

Immersing yourself in Washington right out of college might be a shrewd career move, but it narrows your horizons. There is a whole ‘nother world beyond Washington, where nobody gives a damn about the stuff that people in DC take so seriously.

It is an undeniable fact that Washington has a surplus of ambitious young people with degrees from elite institutions who don’t want to pay their dues — as if they believe their SAT scores entitle them to an exemption from the ordinary drudgery of learning the ropes, crawling before they walk, etc. They consider themselves failures if they’re not some kind of big shot by the time they’re 30.

That kind of fanatical ambition is dangerous, and its superabundance in Washington is one reason the place has such a reputation for treachery. They’re all so busy seeming, nobody dares merely to be.

Thank God, I was a 38-year-old married father of three before I got here. And thank God none of my kids has shown interest in that high-pressure fast-track treadmill that breeds today’s Young Meritocrats.

UPDATE VI: Linked by Matt Lewis at Townhall — thanks.

BTW, I have friends who are friends with Ross Douthat, and who assure me that Ross is genuinely a nice guy. Sorry, but anybody who gets a contract from Harper Collins at age 24 to write a book about “what it’s like to go to Harvard” has committed a cosmological injustice for which atonement must be exacted.

At any rate, if any reader wants to see a less vituperative exposition of what I’m actually trying to say here, try this mini-essay.