2004 August 03 Tuesday
Anger Building Against Bush On Immigration

Valerie Richardson has a report on Republicans who are turning against Bush due to his position on immigration.

The anti-Bush Republicans didn't switch allegiances immediately. Terry Anderson, a conservative Los Angeles radio talk-show host who focuses on immigration issues, said frustration with the party's acceptance of the status quo in which hundreds of thousands of illegals enter the country each year has only recently reached the boiling point.

"At first, when I started to, you might say, bash Bush, and say how sorry I was that he was doing this, I got a lot of flak for it. People were saying, 'Well, he's still a good man, he's just getting bad advice from [adviser] Karl Rove,' " said Mr. Anderson, whose KRLA-AM talk show is syndicated in eight markets.

"Then the calls and e-mails started to change, and people were saying, 'Maybe you're right,' " he said. "Now I hear from Republicans all day long who are totally against him. These are staunch, hard-core conservative Republicans who do not like him [Bush] anymore."

Bush has given up promoting his less than half-baked worker permit and amnesty plan because he wants to get reelected. But he is probably going to take up promoting it if he gets reelected. Unless he completely shifts his position on immigration and comes out for closing the Mexican border with a barrier there is no reason to trust him on immigration. This is beginning to sink through the Republican ranks. Bush doesn't realize yet just how far he'd have to shift on immigration to win back his base. At the same time, his current position on immigration is doing nothing to help Bush with Hispanics. Bush would benefit from shifting to a restrictionist position. But I do not expect him to make such a huge shift in his position.

Count me in the ranks of those who are going to vote for a third party candidate as a protest vote. I do not believe that protest votes are wasted. Political parties must periodically be made to understand that they can't take their base for granted. In the longer run the Republican Party will be better off if Bush loses. Immigration will be one of the issues that his loss will be blamed on. We will get double bonus points as the neoconservatives (who, it bears repeating, are not really conservatives) will lose considerable influence as well. The bulk of the neocons are in favor of continued high levels of low skilled immigration anyway. So damage to their standing in the Republican Party will damage the pro-immigration coalition in the party as well.

Some neocons know that they are being hurt by their faction's position on immigration. Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy comes to mind. Though it is hard to tell whether Gaffney opposes high levels of immigration or just opposes the Bush Administration's alienation of its base over immigration. My guess is that Gaffney is not a restrictionist. But he sees immigration policy as something less important than the use of a Republican Administration to pursue neocon foreign policy goals. So he'd sacrifice neocon preferences on immigration in order to be able to have the power to implement neocon foreign policy.

Update: Over on the Claremont Institute's Remedy web log Ken Masugi argues Bush may be able to win back his disgruntled ex-supporters by trumpeting the importance of court appointees.

They are not taking anything for granted, and the campaign will camp out in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Significant conservative defections (on issues ranging from tariffs to spending to failure to veto to, worst of all, immigration) may be won back by mere mention of the courts (unmentioned, as far as I can recall, by the Boston Democrats). Will the same number or more people vote for him in 2004, in the right states, than in 2000?

Note that Masugi recognizes the scale of the damage done by Bush's immigration position. I'd also add Bush's Iraq fiasco along with the Bush Administration position on the University of Michigan racial preferences cases. Bush's placement of the winning of Hispanic votes ahead of principle led even George Will to criticise Bush's embrace of group rights. Well Ken, for myself the argument about court appointees is just not going to fly. First of all, the demographic future of the US is more important than the courts in the long run. Republicans in Congress will be very reluctant to vote for a new amnesty if Bush goes down in defeat this fall. Also, I'm betting that Bush in a second term will appoint a Hispanic who favors racial preferences to the US Supreme Court. A leading candidate is Bush White House lawyer Alberto Gonzales. Gonzales rewrote and gutted Solicitor General Theodore Olson's Supreme Court brief in the University of Michigan cases. Bush may appoint Gonzales to the Supreme Court if reelected.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 August 03 01:32 PM  Immigration Politics

noone said at August 3, 2004 5:02 PM:

With the exception of Estrada,Bush has left his nominees to twist in the wind while he twisted arms and spent political capital to push amnesty and the new drug entitlement.

Sorry,too little,to late.

The question is not "would Kerry be worse than Bush",he would.
The question is rather "how much worse than Bush would he be?"And the answer,sadly,may be,"not all that much,after all".

john d. said at August 3, 2004 6:13 PM:

Seems like a classic "prisoner's dilemma" problem. The best strategy is Tit for Tat, so they say. Bush has defected against his base, his base must defect too.

An unlikely third party candidate seems the appropriate strategy to maintain the notion of a block of voters that are anti-Bush but available to the Republicans when the Republican Party starts cooperating on this issue.

John S Bolton said at August 3, 2004 8:27 PM:

There is a chance that lassitude on immigration will put the current administration out of office. There have been reports of terrorists crossing the southern border illegally. Alqaeda may want to make a show of power by using people of theirs who crossed illegally, and were briefly detained without getting immediately noted for terrorist associations. If they have those exact operatives carry out another big bombing, alqaeda may suppose that they can then get the administration evicted, as happened in Spain with the election after the railway bombings. The government couldn't escape blame, if they had operatives in their custody for immigration violations, and then irresponsibly released them to do major damage.

Derek Copold said at August 4, 2004 11:07 AM:

In many ways a Kerry adminstration may be better for the country than a second Bush Administration. I don't say this because of any fondness for Kerry, but from looking at the record. Under Clinton, with a GOP congress, the budget was constrained, welfare was reformed, the GOP offered increasingly vigorous opposition to feel-good interventionism and there was even something of immigration reform (largely unenforced by Bush until lately). With Bush, whom the GOP can't oppose because he's their party leader, government growth has exploded, the NEA's budget has been doubled, amnesty has been offered twice, and our foreign policy has lost all sense of hardheaded national security priorities. Now Kerry's charm is a whole hell of a lot less appealing than Clinton, and his record of flip-floppery suggests that if the GOP can get its act together, it'll get much more out of Kerry than it did Clinton. Meanwhile, with the neocons discredited, the GOP will be far more accepting of immigration-reforming presidential candidates.

All in all, there's more than enough justification here to either write in Tancredo's name or vote for the Constitution Party.

Randall Parker said at August 4, 2004 11:34 AM:


Clinton oversaw a huge illegal alien amnesty in which Al Gore actively worked to undermine screening of illegals for criminal records and other problems that should have kept them from being granted citizenship. My guess is that Kerry will be as bad. But Bush may be just as bad.

Both Bush and Kerry will be terrible on illegal immigration. I can't figure out just which of the two will be worse.

Bush is still doing a terrible job of enforcing immigration law.

Derek Copold said at August 5, 2004 7:09 AM:

Both being equal, the Republican is worst because he validates the policy and crowds out dissent. With a Democrat doing the mischief, you at least can rally one party against by virtue of partisan reflex.

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