Tuesday, May 16, 2006

MEXICAN STANDOFF. The most interesting thing about the President's speech was its conciliatory , come-let-us-reason-together passages:
America needs to conduct this debate on immigration in a reasoned and respectful tone. Feelings run deep on this issue -- and as we work it out, all of us need to keep some things in mind. We cannot build a unified country by inciting people to anger, or playing on anyone's fears, or exploiting the issue of immigration for political gain. We must always remember that real lives will be affected by our debates and decisions, and that every human being has dignity and value no matter what their citizenship papers say...

Our new immigrants are just what they have always been -- people willing to risk everything for the dream of freedom. And America remains what she has always been -- the great hope on the horizon...an open door to the future...a blessed and promised land. We honor the heritage of all who come here, no matter where they are from, because we trust in our country's genius for making us all Americans -- one Nation under God. Thank you, and good night.
Bush rarely speaks like this, because usually he benefits politically from dissension. The country has been sharply divided for practically all his tenure. Yet even when he stood on the stage of Madison Square Garden in 2004, with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators held from his throat by unprecedented security, it seems not to have occured to him to talk about binding up the wounds of his country, because he and his party were then profiting from the exacerbations of that red-blue division.

Now, of course, dissension is working within his own "base" and against him, so the President is trying to strike the mystic chords of memory. Unfortunately, his passable rhetoric comes with a gimcrack plan involving Mission: Impossible security devices (cue music as Jorge rolls under the electric eye), an increase in jail bunks, and what promises to become the National Guardsman's least favorite duty: muscleman for the Border Patrol. And no one believes it will make a damn bit of difference.

I did appreciate what I hope was some speechwriter's deliberate attempt at deadpan humor:
For many years, the government did not have enough space in our detention facilities to hold them while the legal process unfolded. So most were released back into our society and asked to return for a court date. When the date arrived, the vast majority did not show up.
Bush's comic timing was good there, too.

Wingers seem outraged that Bush did not come out brandishing a machete and crying "I'ma deport me a Mescan." Some conservatives have rushed to the President's defense; John Podhoretz finds a particularly interesting argument in favor:
This may not be the equivalent of the fence Israel is building to create a separation with the Palestinians, but it is a significant step in that direction.
Well-fed fashion models is the Israeli fad I would prefer to see us adopting, but to each his own.

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