The conventional wisdom on immigration crumbles.

A mostly political Weblog.
May 30 2006 5:42 AM

Special Premature Gloating Edition

The bogus CW on immigration crumbles.

(Continued from Page 6)

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

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.

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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. ...

** That must be the same national consensus Sen. Martinez of Florida was appealing to in his 2004 campaign when he declared:

I support a plan that matches workers with needy employers without providing a path to citizenship. [Ital presumably added]

Now, of course, Martinez is pushing a "compromise" that features, at its center, just such a "path to citizenship." He tells Barnes the failure to pass this bill would be "handing the other side a win." ... 6:46 P.M. 

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