Monday, June 25, 2007

Has Bush Squandered the Last of His Political Capital on Immigration

For some years, it's been difficult for conservatives to figure out when to stand with President Bush and when to draw distinctions. On judicial appointments, executive privilege, the War on Terror, and most social and 'values' issues, conservatives have seen Bush as an ally. On Iraq, entitlement programs, spending (until recently, at least) and immigration, they've at least sought to put some 'daylight' between themselves and the President.

But it's starting to look as if the immigration fight has become the straw that broke the camel's back. Conservatives oppose the White House on the substance and deeply resent the charges of nativism and ignorance coming from Bush's team. Now Mitt Romney has apparently decided that it's time to begin the process of disowning the President:

"We're going to change the course of America," Romney told about 800 donors gathered for a pep rally at the Boston Red Sox's Fenway Park.

"It's on a course right now that's just not quite right. We've got a lot of problems around the world that need our leadership as a nation.

"We're going to have to get ourselves back on track again so that we can remain the powerful nation we've always been -- powerful not just by our strength and our economic vitality, but powerful because of our goodness and the greatness of the American spirit. And that's what the campaign is about."

Romney, like the other top GOP contenders, has so far avoided direct criticism of the increasingly unpopular President Bush, choosing instead to focus specifically on issues like immigration or the conduct of the war.

But his language in Boston -- at a time when polls indicate the overwhelming majority of Americans feel as he does about the nation being on the wrong course -- signaled that he will take steps to move away from the president if necessary.

Up until now, prominent conservatives have mostly defended the President -- pointing out his strengths and downplaying his faults. But if Romney feels comfortable in affirmatively laying some blame at Bush's doorstep -- then it's only because he thinks primary voters are receptive to the message, and won't develop 'buyer's remorse' between now and the primaries. Will other GOP leaders and candidates follow suit?

There's not about to be a big press conference where a slew of GOP Senators wash their hands of President Bush, but it seems that this may be the tipping point. Republicans seem to have decided that Bush is unpopular and politically weak; he's not 'looking out' for their best political interests; and opposing him won't be punished by the base. There are probably more than a few who would call his fixation on immigration 'Ahabesque,' and wonder why they should take even one more political hit for the guy. Better to look to next year.

Can Bush reverse this? I'm not sure. He'll get conservative backing in vetoing a few spending bills, but can Congressional Republicans even be sure that he'll stick to fiscal discipline if Democrats offer a deal on defense spending? And if 'comprehensive immigration reform' somehow passes the Senate, then a vicious fight in the House is likely. It'll leave lots more time to build resentment on both sides, instead of turning to other issues.

The question could be moot of course. If Bush plans to 'play out the string' as a lame duck President, he doesn't need much help from Congressional Republicans. If he still hopes to accomplish anything, however -- most notably on Iraq -- he may find that he's lost all his formerly loyal troops in Congress. Come September, they could be busy echoing the statements of Romney, Giuliani, or Thompson.


Anonymous said...

I have given Bush the benefit of the doubt on post-Saddam Iraq, Katrina, the Miers nomination, the vast new entitlement that is the prescription drug benefit. I voted for him twice.
Now he wants us to all march -lemming like - over a cliff with the immigration bill. It is the last straw - I would gladly support his impeachment at this point. I don't see how anyone else could be worse.

Anonymous said...

Please giving Bush the benefit of the doubt on Miers nomination is crazy. She is and will never be SCOTUS worthy. I assume you backed his dad on the Souter nomination...sigh. If he had nominated Miers this term we would have been stuck with another terrible SCOTUS supreme typical of a "consensus" pick, i.e. terrible for conservatives.

The last straw for me was medicare part D. I still voted for Bush (like any rational person could vote for Kerry) but Bush lost me with the profligate spending. Washington corrupts and will always corrupt when 100 million dollars is pocket change to the politicians. Term limits would be a great start to ending the endemic corruption in DC. Not saying it is the end all, but it sure couldn't hurt. Look at who's pushing the immigration plan, nice and comfy in their DC digs.

Anonymous said...

Support impeachment? And the impeachable offense is what? Our displeasure?

Anonymous said...

Impeachment is hardly an option, this isn't a parliamentary system where the opposition can pull the flush-chain whenever they want to.

The Bush administration has done the right things for the wrong reasons, the wrong things for the right reasons, and sometimes just the wrong things. He'll beat his breast over relative trivia like stem-cell research but won't go to the mat for critical national-security issues such as opening the offshore continental shelf and ANWR to energy production. He'll throw money around to buy votes with a profligacy that seriously endangers any effort to make permanent the tax cuts. He's done good on SCOTUS nominations but he took a far-too-public mulligan on the second round. And now he's trying to stampede the 'comprehensive' immigration bill through in much the same manner as his leftist critics would argue he pushed the Iraq war.

I've never exactly been a Bush fan, for me he's basically been the lesser evil. But Lord save us from Presidents who get seven years into their administration and suddenly need a legacy.

Anonymous said...

Worst President Ever...
Worst Senate Ever...
Worst Congress...
Worst MSM Ever...
Worst Mexican Government Ever...

That about sums it up.
After all, immigration is the most pressing problem of our time, right?

Anonymous said...

That is bullshit for what pertains to our Mexican government.
We have one of the best governments in history.
Sorry but be careful when stating things, specially iof you don't have a clue about it. :)

Unless you are a crazy moonbat, then yes, this conservative government in Mexico would be satanic.

But I'm a conservative and I'm VERY glad with my current government.


Anonymous said...


Get a clue. Pick up a history book. Read a bit about Presidents Andrew Johnson, James Buchanan, or Jimmy Carter, for starters. For congress, try the Copperheads during the civil war.

Bush was losing me big time on his passivity toward post-Saddam Iraq, Syria, and Iran, but his outrageous immigration policy and deference to the corrupt Mexican Government has me very anxious for his departure. I have to agree with the original article.


Anonymous said...

I am a social liberal and fiscal conservative, and Bush has never appealed to me. His clear lack of sufficient intelligence didn't help either. I was unsurprised he's made a hash of his presidency, and I feel no remorse for having never voted for him.

The question is... why did you vote for him (assuming you did)? Be a bit more discerning next time.

Anonymous said...

Just because someone believes in God and thinks abortion is wrong does not make them a conservative, politically speaking. Spending, Harrier Miers, the Dubai ports deal, NCLB, you name it, this guy's the reincarnation of Nixon, if not LBJ.

And now he wants us to roll over and accept what will be a merger-in-all-but-name with Mexico. And those who think that maybe, just maybe this is not a terrific idea get cheap shotted as bigots. To hear Bush tell it, you'd think that the KKK had recruited tens of millions of new members in suburbia, who "just don't want to help brown people" in Karl Rove's words.

It's one thing for Jesse Jackson to play the race card. The guy is a buffoon, and I suspect he doesn't even believe half the stuff he's saying. Bush on the other hand thinks we ARE a bunch of rednecks and racists. Kind of reminds of me Carter's "malaise" speech, where he basically suggested that what was wrong with America was us, the American people. This is why I view Bush as nothing more than Carter in GOP drag.

The Editor at IP said...

Anonymous -- I did vote for the demonstrably smarter candidate.

Were you fooled?

Anonymous said...


Support impeachment? And the impeachable offense is what? Our displeasure?

Failure to secure the borders of this nation during a time of war.

Which is absolutely the responsibility of the President.

Anonymous said...

ladies please, can't we all just get along?

Anonymous said...

Some points to consider:

1. Bush Jr. saw Senior get whalloped by being an out-of-touch moderate who caved to the left on taxes. So he determined to be conservative.

2. All Bush family people are very stubborn. GWB has mostly been served well by this as he's been beaten by the media in a way that surely would have literally killed a lesser man.

3. As a conservative but with moderate roots, he ran as a 'compassionate conservative'. We got much of what he promised. He didn't promise to be a 'true conservative'.

4. Iraq is on the way to victory. Granted, it could have been done better. Granted, you can sayh that about any war. War is like baseball, you make lots of errors, but someone usually wins anyways.

5. Just like in the Cold War, we've had a lot of 'let me save the nation' with the Left demanding 'let me have my goodies in exchange for you saving my life'.

6. I think even someone of GWB's phenomenal stubborness has been beaten down by the onslaught of problems and completely unfair attacks. He's reverting back to being a moderate out-of-touch like his father.

7. A good part of our problem is the RINO/country clubber/incumbents until they die/Trent Lott types who need to be flushed out of the Senate and the Party.

8. The Carter and Nixon comparisons are apt. We need a Reagan who will be True Conservative, and with good cheer drive the hatemongers back into their holes. I hope we have one in Fred Thompson because we certainly don't in the RINO Three. They would have Bush's faults without his virtues.

Oh, one last point. There's a difference between Bush pushing for the Iraq war and Immigration. In the first, most of America wanted it. In the second, most of America doesn't want it. Bush did do some good things--don't let his mistakes discredit his good ideas.


Anonymous said...

I would say the Mexican government is doing a pretty crappy job. Their country is so much of dumpster that millions are flinging themselves over borders, fences and rivers to get out.

Anonymous said...

Were you fooled?

No, I didn't vote for Kerry either. Not that it would have mattered; the state I live in was not closely contested.