Day By Day

Monday, August 20, 2007

Gingrich Starts to Get It

I have often argued that it would be a good thing to have Newt Gingrich running for President, not because he has a chance of winning (he doesn't) or because he would make a good chief executive (he wouldn't), but because he has a quick and agile mind that would add interesting perspectives to the deadly, dreary dialogue that passes for debate in presidential campaigns.

Here's an example:

Writing in NRO Newt notes:
There is a war here at home, and it is even more deadly than the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Far more Americans are being killed by violent, evil people here in America than in our official military “combat zones” overseas.
He's absolutely right. Restoring law and order and safety to the streets of American communities should be the overriding issue in the upcoming campaign, and I suspect it will be.

But here Newt's imagination fails him. He tries to tie the issue of domestic criminality specifically to immigration.

Americans are killed by violent criminals all too often, of course. But the senselessness and tragedy of these killings [in Newark] and too many others is that they were completely preventable. Their perpetrators were men who should not have been in the United States to begin with and, after multiple previous arrests, shouldn’t have been on the streets. Instead, they should have been in jail awaiting trial, sentencing, prison, and eventual deportation.
Read the whole thing here.

Newt's argument is good as far as it goes, but it attacks the mote and not the beam. Illegal immigration is not the main source of domestic disorder; it is simply a symptom of a much larger problem -- domestic disorder.

Illegal immigration, to be sure, is a major problem for America, but to conceive of the problem as being specific to the immigrants is to define it too narrowly. The crisis affecting America is the local breakdown of civil order -- the presence in our communities of a significant number of people who refuse to live orderly lives and who a threat to the rest of us. We cannot ignore the fact that violent crime is disproportionately committed not by immigrants, but by people born and raised in our country. Focusing on immigration diverts us from this larger problem.

I suspect, and have long argued, that the overriding issue for 2008 is going to be law and order. The problems associated with illegal immigration are simply a sub-set of that issue. This obviously plays to Rudy's strengths and I am not surprised that his opponents are soft-pedaling the issue and trying to divert it into side channels like immigration, but that won't work for long. The Giuliani campaign recently has shown signs of developing a comprehensive approach to a wide range of issues, tying them all to a restoration of order. That, I predict, is a winning approach -- one that can propel hizzoner into the Oval Office.