The President and the Right

How liberating it must be to not have to face another election!

President Bush is calling them as he sees them. And as he sees it, the conservative critics of his immigration bill are way out of bounds.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

I support the immigration bill. I think it is important to get something done and get it done this year, for our nation’s economy and security. I also think it could be good politically for the Republican Party. We need to get to be able to compete for the Hispanic vote if we want to be the majority party in the long term, and getting this bill done could help us.

But the president needs to engage the critics of the bill in a constructive way. Saying that they haven’t read the bill insults their intelligence and is easily disprovable. Calling concerns “empty political rhetoric” and critics “fear-mongers” doesn’t help. And it certainly won’t help get the bill done in the House.

The president doesn’t have the political capital with Republicans to force them to vote with him. He spent that capital a long time ago. Calling them names won’t do it either.

Only a reasoned debate, full of facts and figures, will help the president carry the day. And he shouldn’t be aiming his fire at his own team. He should aim it at the House Democrats, who aren’t exactly embracing the Senate compromise. In fact, the House Democratic leadership has indicated that they have little interest in taking this bill up as currently constructed.

Indeed, House Democrats are the ones who will most likely embrace full amnesty. They are the ones who want the day laborers to become union members, so they can support the Democratic Party through an automatic pay-deduction system. They are the ones who would like to play this out and stick it to both immigrants and the GOP.

I agree with what the president is trying to do, but I think he needs to be careful in his rhetorical volleys. Demonizing the right is not the best way to get an immigration bill done.