Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bush, This is Beneath You

At the end of a speech recently supporting his immigration compromise, President Bush said this:

Those determined to find fault with this [immigration] bill will always be able to look at a narrow slice of it and find something they don't like. If you want to kill the bill, if you don't want to do what's right for America, you can pick one little aspect out of it, you can use it to frighten people.
One phrase there strikes me: "if you don't want to do what's right for America". It sounds to me like Bush is saying, "people who disagree with me on this have some other priority than the good of America". And that really bothers me.

We need to be able to disagree with people without attacking their motives. A President, of all people, should be able to do this well.

From Bush in particular this bothers me because, especially back in 2000, I was struck by his respectfulness toward his political opponents. That was one of the strongest factors influencing my desire to support his candidacy. He had a track record of working with political opponents, and he refused to attack the motives of his opponents. I can't find the quote online, but I remember him saying that Democrats and Republicans both had the same goals and desires for our country, but just disagreed about the methods of getting there.

Now, to his credit, this is a compromise bill that he has helped put together with both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. So, from that perspective, he is continuing to fulfill that impression that I had of him in the beginning.

But, his language toward opponents is getting more and more strident, it seems, and I find it highly disappointing.


(Thanks to Volokh Conspiracy for directing me to this information)


MamasBoy said...

" can pick one little aspect out of it, you can use it to frighten people."

I think Bush is right that the political gamesmanship of picking one little aspect out of a large bill and using it to frighten people generally isn't right for America. Now, if a person wants to criticize the bill for its overall approach, that's another matter. Politics in the US, though, is for better or worse the art of compromise. Rarely is there one little aspect that is worthy of unhinging a bill as large and pressing as the immigration reform bill. I honestly haven't read the bill, so I don't know specifics. That's just how I view politics.

I received an email from someone yesterday lambasting the bill for only requiring illegals to pay 3/5 years of back taxes or something like that. In a perfect world, they would repay everything. Few illegals, though, can afford that (heck, many would be eligible for the earned income credit, esp. in their early years). By my estimation, the IRS would probably collect more taxes by requiring less. Plus, now that someone is in the system, it is easier to make sure they are paying future taxes. Sure, it isn't a perfect solution, but it is a decent compromise. Decent compromise is what makes for a decent bill.

Perhaps you interpreted Bush's comments differently from me, but that's how I took them.


Kevin said...

MamasBoy's interpretation is certainly more reasonable and less arrogant, though I first read it with the same interpretation that Mark did.

I would not put it past Bush to have muddled his delivery, though he no doubt does believe that the bill is right for America and thus, implicitly, that killing it would be wrong.

But even if you remove "if you don't want to do what's right for America", that paragraph still feels a bit petulant and derogatory.

MamasBoy, I thought Bush removed the provision requiring any back taxes from illegal immigrants. But there are still some flat fees.

I've been writing up a post about the new Immigration bill, which I'll submit soon. I planned on doing it earlier this week, but I'm having issues with my MSI motherboard again.


Kevin said...

Bush shocked to find his supporters don’t like having their motives impugned