Towards A Good Samaritan World

Monday, February 27, 2006


This Fred Barnes piece is a reminder of why I still love Bush: the issues on which he defies the conservative base are so beautifully right. Allowing the ports deal to go through is a wonderful defiance of economic-protectionism-under-the-guise-of-national-security. Maybe it's even better than that: a signal that economic openness is valuable enough that it might even be worth sacrificing a bit of national security for its sake. Which is true, and it's a great signal to send. But then, it will be just as good if it sends the opposite signal: that by allowing a close Arab ally to invest and make money in the United States, we are improving national security by strengthening an important alliance. In short, economic openness is such a good thing that it would be worth pursuing even if it compromises national security a little bit, BUT it can also be an important tool of national foreign policy (and if we try to close our economy, national security will suffer, and we'll be unworthy to enjoy it). As policy, who knows whether it's a good idea to let Dubai run six US ports. But as symbolism, it is beautiful.

But immigration is much more important. It's great to have a Republican president saying things like this:

Bush invited members of Congress and his cabinet, plus leaders of Hispanic groups, to his speech at the White House in January 2004 calling for more immigration into the United States. "The citizenship line . . . is too long and our current limits on legal immigration are too low," he said. But he devoted most of his address to illegal immigrants.

"Out of common sense and fairness, our laws should allow willing workers to enter our country and fill jobs that Americans are not filling," he declared. "We must make our immigration laws more rational and more humane. And I believe we can do so without jeopardizing the livelihoods of American citizens." His plan would "offer legal status, as temporary workers, to the millions of undocumented men and women now employed in the United States and to those in foreign countries who seek to participate in the program and have been offered employment here."

Now, one rhetorical tactic that politicians like to use is to quote people from the other side who agree with you-- the "reluctant expert." If we ever again have a genuinely progressive Democratic party in this country, they'll be able to use quotes like this against future nativist Republicans. Look what even a Republican president said about immigration! they'll say. These immigration-bashers are just an extremist fringe-- to the right of George Bush!


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