Big Victory for President Bush in Europe Hidden By Failure on Immigration

The president went to Europe and won a big victory. Vladimir Putin has changed his mind and won’t aim missiles at Europe, and actually agreed to talk about cooperation on missile defense.

This is the kind of victory that made Ronald Reagan the icon that all Republicans love today. But for Bush it was largely hidden by the setback on the immigration bill.

It is hard to say whether this immigration bill will be revived. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says that it will be, but I wouldn’t count on it. The failure in the Senate is a failure of Senate Democratic leadership, but that is not how the majority leader spun it. He blamed President Bush, even though it was Reid’s decision to move forward on a cloture vote that few of the supporters thought was yet ripe.

Reid is crying crocodile tears when he laments the failure to pass the Senate compromise. He never really loved it in the first place. In fact, few of the elected leaders of the either the Senate or the House really ever loved it. It was the product of a rump group (most of whom aren’t up for reelection next year) and a White House that has lost much of its sway on the Hill. The House was largely ignored during the process. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is probably the most relieved leader in the Congress, because it gets her off the hook.

The process of cobbling together this compromise was interesting. Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) pointed out that since everybody was unhappy, they must have done something right. But upon further reflection, I think because everybody was unhappy, passage became more difficult. A case in point is the business community, which is the biggest supporter of reform. The new system introduced by the Senate compromise was seen as unrealistic and unworkable by them, and they opposed the bill. Seems to me that you would want to get the biggest supporters of reform on board if you wanted to get a bill passed.

I support getting a comprehensive immigration reform done, because I think it is important for this nation to have a common-sense policy in place that increases both economic productivity and security. But the president needs to work hard to get congressional leaders in both parties on board, because without them, I don’t think you will get a final deal.