The other day I watched President Bush making the case for immigration reform in an appearance down on the border in New Mexico. He made a very persuasive case for tightening border security and even for some kind of temporary guest-worker program, and I’m sure he was right on the same page with the majority of his fellow Americans.
Then he spoiled it all when he climbed out on a limb and put himself at odds with America by sticking to his demand for enacting the Senate’s so-called comprehensive immigration reform, which most everybody else calls a program for amnesty.
Just how far out on that limb he went became evident when the voters of San Diego sawed it off by defying the liberal media and electing Brian Bilbray to the U.S. Congress. He was involved in the fight of his life, seeking to fill the unexpired term of former Republican Rep. Duke Cunningham, now in the slammer for wholesale acceptance of bribes.
According to the chattering class, the voters in his district were just itching to teach the GOP a lesson for saddling them with a congressman who did everything but put a for-sale sign on his office door. They would either vote against Bilbray or not vote at all simply because he was the GOP standard bearer.
It didn’t happen that way. Bilbray won, and he won because he was on the right side of the immigration issue. He stood for tough border enforcement and he opposed the Senate bill the president has gone all-out to get enacted.
His Democrat opponent, school teacher Francine Busby, was on G.W.’s side – she backed the Senate bill and that became the main issue in the campaign. She stood with the president and Sen. John McCain on the wrong side of this issue. McCain even ducked out of an appearance with Bilbray at the last minute apparently in retaliation for Bilbray’s vehement opposition to McCain’s Senate bill.
Busby really got on the wrong side of the issue when she told illegal aliens, “You don’t need papers for voting.” In so doing she played right into Bilbray’s hard-nosed immigration stand and apparently helped convince a lot of Republicans who had planned to stay home on election day to come out and vote for Bilbray.
The point of all this is the president’s utter failure to understand how the majority of Americans feel. They are single-minded about the issue – they want the border sealed tight against the flood of illegal aliens pouring across the border. At the moment that’s all they want, and they are convinced that tackling the problem of what to do about the 12 million or more illegal aliens here only clouds the issue.
Moreover, they know that the Senate bill is loaded with such absurdities as giving Social Security benefits to illegals who use forged documents to gain employment. Talk about waving a red flag in front of a bull — that piece of Senate arrogance conveyed a message that the members of the Upper Body could not care less what the people think and want.
A lot of the 12 million or so illegals now in the United States have been here for years. What’s the big hurry about dealing with them? Can’t it wait until we take care of the immediate problem – securing the borders? Must we confuse the issue by adding a huge program to provide what most Americans rightly or wrongly consider to be a form of amnesty?
It’s all a matter of first things first. Let’s solve the border problem now. We can attack the problem of the illegals now here once we secure our borders.
That’s what the people want and by insisting on an all-or-nothing approach the President runs the risk of ending up with nothing and also costing his party control of the Congress in the November elections. That’s what the voters of San Diego made clear Tuesday. Is he listening?
©2006 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc. Cari Dawson Bartley email Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561.