Day By Day

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Peggy Noonan, high priestess of the Cult of Reagan, feels that her peeps aren't getting enough respect from the Bushies. She writes:

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."

Why would they speak so insultingly, with such hostility, of opponents who are concerned citizens? And often, though not exclusively, concerned conservatives? It is odd, but it is of a piece with, or a variation on, the "Too bad" governing style. And it is one that has, day by day for at least the past three years, been tearing apart the conservative movement.
Read the whole thing here.

The arrogance of these people -- indeed! Not President Bush and his supporters, but the "movement conservatives" who presume to judge them.

All too often movement conservatives have rallied in defense of narrow ethnic or class interests and against the general welfare of the nation. Their willingness to stir themselves into a towering outrage at real or imagined slights betrays the insecurity of their position. They know, deep in their hearts, that their objection to immigrants has little to do with national security concerns, or illegal status, but with the simple fact that they want to restrict the number of Hispanics in our society. Their solution to the innumerable problems caused by immigration -- get rid of the immigrants. They use the outrageous actions and positions taken by an activist minority to tar the entire immigrant population, not realizing that their own extremism and irreconcilable stance is doing real damage to both the movement and the Republican Party generally.

A recent e-mail summarizes the arguments -- I quote it in full and preface it with a note that I know the author. He is a good, intelligent, educated and patriotic man, deeply concerned about the future of his family, his community, and his country. The views he expresses are widely shared among movement conservatives and [Noonan is right on this point] should not be dismissed out of hand. But, they are ultimately self-defeating and pose far greater dangers than the writer and restrictionists in general appreciate.

Here goes:

You better spend some time in the real world. Crime is up in the "illegal"
immigrant portion of the crime reports, hospitals are complaining about the
cost of treating undocumenteds, anchor babies are contributing nothing to
the system.

Don't give me that crap about paying taxes, etc. Do you really think the
day laborers have their SS paid by their employers? And why is 60% of
Mexico's GDP from foreign money transfers?

You need to talk to some real people sometimes. Learn about the bodegas
that sell SS cards, drivers licenses, etc.

And Bush's plans are totally unenforeable and the tax consequences are
staggering with no guarantees they'll ever pay anything.

Read the bill. I have. All 128 pages (with amendments, earmarks and various

Close the border. Identify the current "undocumenteds". Find out how they
work and fine the shit outta their employers.

What part of "illegal" don't you understand? If someone forced their way
into your home, took your food, took your clothes, your car, your money,
wouldn't you call the cops? Simplistic I know but consider the source and
the audience.

Press 1 for English my ass.

the local yokel now has classified help wanteds in SPANISH which is vaguely
discriminatory cause Rufus and Remus can't read English half the time and it
is exclusionary to a vast portion of the population. Employers aim for
these peeps knowing they can pay them less, get labor on the cheap and not
have to worry about paying their withholdings over to Uncle Sam.

Rant over. Let them wait in line. How many Ft Dix 6 do we need?

These are legitimate concerns and deserve a respectful hearing, but so too are the concerns voiced by immigrant workers who are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. Today I was talking with just such a person -- an immigrant who works here in the city. He, too, is an inhabitant of the "real world". I have known him for some time. He is a good man, a hard worker, and a concerned father who remits much of the money he earns back to his family in Mexico. He is trying to build a better life for his wife and children, and he worries terribly about the current political climate. He too deserves a respectful hearing.

And, faced with competing legitimate concerns, President Bush and Senate leaders are trying to forge a humane compromise. Of course the result is messy and often inconsistent and problematic -- how could it not be -- but it, too, is deserving of a respect. This is not a time for outraged sensibilities and temper tantrums and tribal rants. This is a time to come together to forge a decent and humane set of policies that will accommodate the legitimate concerns of all.

I applaud President Bush for his efforts in this regard. He knows, and takes seriously, his charge to be president of all the people, not the leader of a narrow and exclusionary movement. He is a good man -- a better man than many of his critics.

A question for Ms. Noonan, and my correspondent.

When you watched "Gangs of New York" which side did you root for?