Thursday, July 11, 2013

Will the ideologues feel any differently about Bush and immigration reform than they did back in ’06?

It was intriguing to learn that former President George W. Bush on Wednesday came out in favor of immigration reform.

BUSH: Will the GOP listen?
He’s not endorsing any specific policy. But he said during a naturalization ceremony held at the presidential library he shares with his father (the elder George Bush) that he wants a “positive resolution” to the legislative debate now taking place in Congress.

BUSH ALSO SAID he hopes, “during the debate, we keep a benevolent spirit in mind, and we understand the contributions immigrants make to our country.”

That certainly wouldn’t occur if the socially conservative element that wants to undermine the immigration reform debate so as to kill off the issue altogether manages to prevail.

Actually, it isn’t a surprise that Bush (the younger) would be supportive on this particular issue.

If he could have had his way, the Congress would have addressed immigration reform with a bill backed by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and the late Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.

BUT THEY DIDN’T, in large part because the Republican-run Congress back then had ideologues who weren’t about to touch the issue – for many of the same reasons that they really don’t want to be bothered with it now.

In fact, a good part of the reason why Bush’s approval ratings dropped as low as they did during the final years of his presidency was because of the immigration issue – the ideologues who thought Bush was a reliable supporter were offended that he showed some sense of compassion on this particular issue.

Compassion that they will rant and scream is being directed in a misguided manner toward people they want to believe are criminal – even though the only real problem with many of those people is they are caught up in a bureaucratic mess of an immigration policy.

Fix the policy, and the “criminal” label would be completely erroneous.

PERHAPS IT WAS the Texas exposure, but Bush (the younger) has always seemed to have a better awareness of Mexico and Latin America than most other Republican-types.

Which was why he was about the only GOP presidential aspirant of recent years who gained any significant Latino voter support. Although, to be honest, even if you believe that 44 percent figure some people toss out as his Latino support for his 2004 re-election bid, it means he still lost the Latino vote.

So what should we make of Bush’s view on Wednesday that, “America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time?”

It’s a fairly sensible viewpoint. Let’s only hope that Bush’s alleged GOP allies are willing to listen.


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