Immigration speech: Smoke and mirrors Posted by: McQ
on Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Given President Bush's speech last night, that seems to be the emerging consensus among right bloggers. A "welcome to the fight, but are you really serious?" And of course, as Steve Bainbridge asks: “Why is border security on the front burner only now? Securing both land borders, as well as the coasts and ports, should have been Job 1 after 9/11.”
That's been my thought as well. Bainbridge goes on to speculate: “If we hadn’t gone to war in Iraq, of course, the Guard would have a lot more resources available to serve on the border.”
Well, not really. Look we have 440,000 troops and airman in the National Guard according to the Atlanta Journal Consitution. At present, about 36,000 are in Iraq, a little over 8,000 in Afghanistan and 7,000 are deployed elsewhere. So it is a mission the Guard can handle.
It's the plan of use, not the numbers, which concern me. The total plan calls for 156,000 troops over the year proposed. That's 6,000 every two weeks. You tell me, is two weeks enought time to learn the job and be effective, even in a support role? The answer is no. This is the first of the smoke and mirrors being advanced by the administration. Two weeks does not give anyone the time, nor does it give the effort the continuity necessary to be effective. By the time a rotation figures out who the players are, how to effectively do their mission and what is necessary to support the effort, they're gone and a new rotation is reinventing the wheel.
Then there's the political side of the fence. As Dick Durbin said: "[Bush] has the power to call up the National Guard to patrol the border. But does he have the power to lead his own Republican forces in Congress in support of real immigration reform?"
That is the salient question, isn't it? And to this point, Bush has shown little leadership on the issue of border security and immigration reform. One of the more striking things about his speech last night was the fact that it was almost a complete about-face from previous statements on the issue. It is that, primarily, which has people like me doubting the sincerity of the effort.
For instance, the administration promises 6,000 additional border patrol personnel in a year. That's after approving the budget for this year in which only 210 additional border patrol personnel were funded. Will the real George Bush please stand up.
While, on the whole, he said the right things as far as I was concerned, the devil is in the details and the execution. And, as I point out concerning the National Guard, that aspect of the details isn't too promising if, as a temporary measure, we expect the use of the Guard to be effective and helpful.
I'm still in the "show me" stage with the administration on this one, and to be honest, given the Guard piece, I'm not optomistic.
His legacy is assured: Tax cuts, Afghanistan, Iraq, Economic Boom. Why spoil it with a nasty, indeterminate, and unnecessary row over immigration.
The ’06 elections have to be on his mind, too. I think he said all the right things to lend the impression his party is doing something, while not upsetting the apple cart too badly for the GOP’s candidates in America’s Southwestern states.
Securing both land borders, as well as the coasts and ports, should have been Job 1 after 9/11.
I disagree. After 9/11 the administration’s Job 1 was "prevent major terrorist attacks in the US." The strategy used was not "secure everything everywhere" which is practically impossible. We have too much coastline and too much border. Instead our strategy was "take the fight to the enemy." Put them on the defensive instead of giving them the free rein they had for years previously. Go to them. Fight them where they live not where we live. Attack the top of the heirarchy and use them to gather intelligence on what the rest of the organization is doing. Make them fight our armed and armored soldiers instead of our relatively defenseless civilians. And for the most part it has worked.
I am absolutely certain Bush will do as he says and secure our borders. Right after he vetos McCain-Feingold. In today’s(Tues) paper some of the details and consequences of the Senate bill are mentioned. Truly amazing, even discounting for the usual exageration and error. After hearing/reading some of the responses to Bush’s speech, I am reminded of 1992. If my job depended on a Republican administration or majority, I would polish up my resume, just to be on the safe side.
Instapundit linked to this Podhoretz blurb at the Corner:
David Frum, the smartest man I know, got it wrong. CNN has a poll just up, and the results are staggeringly in the president’s favor. 79 percent of those who watched had a very favorable or favorable view of the speech, and those who support the president’s policies rose in number from 42 to 67 percent.