Friday, June 08, 2007


Border IN-Security

The Washington Post's Dan Balz goes to that favorite Beltway bete noire, the D.C. political culture in assigning blame to the collapse of the immigration bill:
The collapse of comprehensive immigration revision in the Senate last night represents a political defeat for President Bush, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), the bill's most prominent sponsors. More significantly, it represents a scathing indictment of the political culture of Washington.

The defeat of the legislation can be laid at the doorstep of opponents on the right and left, on congressional leaders who couldn't move their troops and on an increasingly weakened president and his
White House team. But together it added up to another example of a polarized political system in which the center could not hold.

The partisan blame game was already at fever pitch as the bill was going down yesterday. But to those far removed from the backrooms of
Capitol Hill, what happened will fuel cynicism toward a political system that appears incapable of finding ways to resolve the nation's big challenges.

But blaming "the culture" is like blaming "the system" or "The Man." It clearly manages to ignore the actual real-world factors that are at play. Real-world factors such as:

1) A president with a below-30 approval rating has no political capital with which to push a bill that he has considered a priority since his earliest days in office. He had no strength with which to bring along recalcitrant members of his own party.

2) With the narrowest possible majority in the Senate (essentially 51-49 Democrat), there could not be a worse "bipartisan" duo than Ted Kennedy and John McCain to have their names on the bill if the idea was to get Republicans and conservatives to sign on. For nearly four decades, Kennedy has been the poster child for liberal America. Amazingly, even with Hillary Clinton in the Senate, Kennedy likely retains the heavyweight championship belt of Most Hated Senate Liberal. John McCain (unfairly, in my view -- except for campaign finance reform) is the conservative base's most despised Republican.

3) Despite what they say for the cameras, Democrats had absolutely no reason to be supportive of this bill. They are confident that they will win the White House next year and get a bill more liberal and more to their liking. Far better to let this one collapse, blame it on the Republicans and the helpless White House -- and go for an even-greater-amnesty bill next time around.

Finally, conservatives and libertarians (as represented, in this case, by The Wall Street Journal's editorial board) need to have their own discussion on the issue immigration -- illegal and otherwise. Michelle Malkin's video exposes the truly raw sentiments within the right-wing base. Her "gotcha" on the, ahem, "diversity" at the WSJ ed. board is a cheap shot -- but quite funny.

I was mildly more supportive of this comprehensive bill. However, Malkin makes a number of fair points (memo to Michelle: for the love of God, lose the gorilla schtick) -- and the Journal shouldn't just dismiss the claims of "the right" as being purely cultural (though, yes, "fear of a brown planet" does factor into the immigration issue; it's not all just "law-and-order").

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