HEAR ME OUT ON THIS!
A side of President Bush emerged on Tuesday that America has not seen before. It was a robust and energized President telling his right wing soul mates to shut the hell up. He used more muted language than that of course, but the message conveyed the same end result. The issue that has galvanized the conservatives of his party is immigration. It was these same people that helped elect Bush, but now have turned their back on the 43rd President. And Bush is fighting back. Well, as best he can after being in bed all these years with the conservative talk show hosts, bloggers, and politicians.
Part of the problem Bush now faces is the plight any Administration would face when trying to shape vital public policy at a time of highly divided and contentious national politics. President Clinton faced the same type of undermining of policy hopes during the health care debate. The forces of destruction won then, and the plight of America’s uninsured remain a source of national shame yet today. The same long-term effects for our nation will occur if the loud echo chamber created by conservatives prevails, and as a result the latest immigration bill is killed.
The problem for Bush, even as he railed against the conservatives on Tuesday, is that he has no one he can turn to for support, or cover. He has been cozy with the conservatives, allowing them to run the show for the past six years. That in large part undermined his ability to foster a larger governing coalition. Karl Rove is in large part responsible for this. President Bush has alienated and angered Democrats at every turn. He lied to the nation about the Iraq War, finds no desire to change war policy, and therefore finds no refuge among the electorate. As a result his poll numbers are dismal. Therefore, the Bush White House is basically fighting alone.
And that is not good for the country.
I have huge, and often irreconcilable differences with the way Bush misled the nation during his years in the White House. I have been highly critical of his tenure as President. But I also firmly understand why this country needs a leader with political leverage. In fact, that has been one of my deep regrets over the way Bush lied about the war. He undermined his leadership authority with a war of choice.
We need a strong President now with the ability to pull a consensus immigration bill through Congress, and sign it into law in the Oval Office. But the political chasm that exists in our country, and the state of the Presidency today will most likely mean that this immigration bill is never to be passed. Unless some of us decide that good immigration policy should trump loud politics.
It should concern us all, both Democrats and Republicans that national policy requiring Congress’s action will wither and die. It should madden us that conservatives can hijack public policy through their manipulation of the airwaves, and the layers of echo that they produce daily across the country.
I know I should be amused as a liberal to see the conservative political attacks that Bush loved to use these past six years against the Democrats, now being used against him. Truth is I am not amused. I enjoy political theatre more than most, but I also have a deep appreciation for the art of policy making. And right now for a variety of reasons a strong and coherent immigration bill needs to become the law of the land. And when policy proposals are destroyed, as the conservatives are now doing, I think we all need to make a statement about the direction of the country. And so on the immigration proposal I stand with President Bush, and ask that you do the same.
This is much more important than my political differences with President Bush. It is more important than your political differences with President Bush. This is about the heart and soul of how our government should operate, the way Congress should be allowed to craft legislation, and the way our country should deal with pressing national needs.
I know that this will produce snickers and sneers from some. To them I reply that I still believe what my grade school civics book taught me. Shouldn’t we all feel the same?