Fred Barnes to GOP: Panic!

A mostly political Weblog.
May 21 2006 2:29 AM

Fred Barnes to GOP: Panic!

Plus--Coming soon: Hillary mini-balls

Bush Lies, Base Dies!WaPo's Weisman and VandeHei recount the successful attempt of Senator Hagel and others to get the Bush White House to scuttle conservatives' attempt to amend the immigration bill

to stipulate that the 200,000 low-skilled immigrants allowed to enter the country under a new temporary-worker visa would have to leave when the visa expired.

According to WaPo, the conservative senators argued, ineffectively, that

that Bush has always said he backs a "temporary worker program," not a permanent funnel of immigrants to the United States.

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Actually, it's worse than that. In Bush's big May 15 speech, he said flatly:

And temporary workers must return to their home country at the conclusion of their stay.

Now it's been made clear that--according to the White House--temporary workers need not return to their home countries after all. Was Bush's speech statement just a lie? Was it a Clintonian weasel (technically accurate in the zen-tautological sense that their "stay" doesn't conclude until it concludes). ... P.S.: I happen to favor a path to citizenship for legal temporary workers from outside the country. (It's the illegal workers already inside the country I have problems with rewarding.) But if Bush didn't mean what he said, maybe he shouldn't have said it. Or does he have so much contempt for his own base--what Sen. Hagel, in a revealingly snotty outburst, called "the political lowest common denominator"--that he thinks he can con them with impunity? ... 1:48 P.M.

[A] national consensus has formed around what the president calls "comprehensive" immigration reform--that is, impenetrable border security plus earned citizenship and a temporary worker program. [Emphasis added] **

What nation is Barnes talking about? Mexico? Korea? El Salvador? ... P.S.: Barnes, unlike the fabled Times-reading left, isn't in a cocoon. He knows better--knows that if there's anything that hasn't yet come out of the bitter, divisive, etc., immigration debate it's consensus. He's just trying to panic conservative House Republicans into going along with Bush, on the grounds that Bush has been such a domestic failure--e.g., when his "lonely effort to reform Social Security last year flopped"--that a refusal to pass an immigration bill right now "would mark the end of the Bush presidency as an effective political force." But if it's really panic time, why not pressure Senate Republicans into passing a common-denominator enforcement bill?  That way Republicans would get (a) an achievement to take to the voters and (b) a mobilized base. The Barnes Panic Button only gets the GOPs (a), plus a frustrated base. ...

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