If you are a conservative and/or a Republican then Peggy Noonan's latest column is a must-read. It essentially discusses why the administration has resorted to insulting it's own strongest supporters over the immigration issue, and it's wonderfully written.
In the course of her column she says this:
The White House doesn't need its traditional supporters anymore, because its problems are way beyond being solved by the base. And the people in the administration don't even much like the base. Desperate straits have left them liberated, and they are acting out their disdain. Leading Democrats often think their base is slightly mad but at least their heart is in the right place. This White House thinks its base is stupid and that its heart is in the wrong place.
For almost three years, arguably longer, conservative Bush supporters have felt like sufferers of battered wife syndrome. You don't like endless gushing spending, the kind that assumes a high and unstoppable affluence will always exist, and the tax receipts will always flow in? Too bad! You don't like expanding governmental authority and power? Too bad. You think the war was wrong or is wrong? Too bad.
But on immigration it has changed from "Too bad" to "You're bad."
The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic--they "don't want to do what's right for America." His ally Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, "We're gonna tell the bigots to shut up." On Fox last weekend he vowed to "push back." Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested opponents would prefer illegal immigrants be killed; Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said those who oppose the bill want "mass deportation." Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said those who oppose the bill are "anti-immigrant" and suggested they suffer from "rage" and "national chauvinism."
The problem that Bush presents to conservatives dismayed by his support for a bill that is so obviously awful is that he has been steadfast on four things that are so important to them: The war on terror, supreme court justices, tax cuts, and support for Israel. He's also been right to shun the Kyoto sham and to pursue a missile shield.
His failures - his exorbitant spending, his embrace of Donald Rumsfeld's policy of a lean military presence in Iraq and his inability to articulate a compelling defense of his policies and thus be an inspiring leader for the nation - have been galling, but tolerable. Until now.
As Noonan says, the administration is consciously trashing those who feel that illegal immigration is a calamity for this nation and is opening a breach that will not likely be mended if the immigration bill passes.
The President would have done much better to have taken her advice:
If they'd really wanted to help, as opposed to braying about their own wonderfulness, they would have created not one big bill but a series of smaller bills, each of which would do one big clear thing, the first being to close the border. Once that was done--actually and believably done--the country could relax in the knowledge that the situation was finally not day by day getting worse. They could feel some confidence. And in that confidence real progress could begin.
Bush could have been a great president, but as Noonan points out in a different context, he squandered the opportunity. It's too bad.RLC