The President's patent insincerity about controlling illegal immigration has catalyzed the realization among a rapidly growing number of conservatives that the Bush Administration's governing principles, such as they are, are at best only superficially conservative. Their common denominator is a lack of what Edmund Burke emphasized as a key conservative virtue: prudence.
The foreign, domestic, and economic policies of President Bush can be summarized as:
- Invade the world
- Invite the world
- In hock to the world
As far as Grand Strategies go, this is not the most seamless. There are palpable contradictions in combining pugnacity abroad with welcoming tens of millions of foreign newcomers at home while borrowing hundreds of billions from overseas to fund our budget and trade deficits.
How did the Bush Administration wind up with such clashing priorities?
The orgy of indebtedness with which the Administration is saddling future generations of Americans is a byproduct of the President's politically motivated profligacy. Increasing spending is popular among powerful interest groups. And so is cutting taxes. Why not do both at once? Why pay today what you can put off until tomorrow (or the next President's term)?
More mysterious remain the precise reasons behind the Administration's conversion from its 2000 campaign promise of a "modest" foreign policy that abstained from nation-building to its wildly ambitious neoconservative ideology of 2003.
In contrast, Mr. Bush's desire to boost immigration has never been in doubt.
While the President contended in his speech that his terms as a border state governor prove that he grasps the importance of enforcing illegal immigration laws, never during his 12 years in office has he displayed much eagerness to catch aliens.
For example, the "comprehensive immigration reform" of 1986 granted amnesty to 2.7 million current illegal aliens combined with staunch employer sanctions to eliminate the incentive for future illegal immigration. Unfortunately, politically powerful employers soon began corrupting the enforcement process. Still the nadir of negligence was not reached until this Administration. In 2004, only three employers were fined.
In the placid months before 9/11, Bush's highest priority, after tax cuts, was working out with Mexican president Vicente Fox an immigration deal -- although what he asked Fox to sacrifice, if anything, was never made clear. The President of Mexico wanted to dispose of his surplus uneducated poor and the President of the United States wanted to acquire them, perhaps on the theory that global dominance in the 21st Century goes to the country with the most manual laborers.