Friday, May 05, 2006

What Hath Bush Wrought?

A year ago, I wrote that after the Bush administration, "conservatives are going to wake up and realize that someone had a really great party on their credit card, and has left them a crushing bill." By that, I meant that the Bush administration seemed unswerving in its dedication to destroy every principle of traditional conservatism, and that the fallout from his presidency – debt, illegal aliens and corruption in Washington would - cripple conservatives’ future electoral chances. Apparently, only the timing was off. Conservatives have become all too aware of the Bush administration’s failure well before he leaves office. From immigration to the expansion of government to deficit financing to Wilsonian exercises in nation-building, Bush’s policies represent the antithesis of conservative ideals. Of course, those heavily invested in the Bush cult of personality – Fred Barnes, for example – don’t seem to care, and even endorse the jettisoning of conservative principles in unison with the president. But the combination of congressional corruption, the never-ending bloodshed in Iraq, soaring gas prices and the administration’s suicidal immigration policies finally appear to have infuriated conservatives straight back to reality.

Angry conservatives are driving the approval ratings of President Bush and the GOP-led Congress to dismal new lows, according to an AP-Ipsos poll that underscores why Republicans fear an Election Day massacre.

Six months out, the intensity of opposition to Bush and Congress has risen sharply, along with the percentage of Americans who believe the nation is on the wrong track.

The AP-Ipsos poll also suggests that Democratic voters are far more motivated than Republicans. Elections in the middle of a president's term traditionally favor the party whose core supporters are the most energized.

This week's survey of 1,000 adults, including 865 registered voters, found:

o Just 33 percent of the public approves of Bush's job performance, the lowest of his presidency. That compares with 36 percent approval in early April. Forty-five percent of self-described conservatives now disapprove of the president.

o Just one-fourth of the public approves of the job Congress is doing, a new low in AP-Ipsos polling and down 5 percentage points since last month. A whopping 65 percent of conservatives disapprove of Congress.

o A majority of Americans say they want Democrats rather than Republicans to control Congress (51 percent to 34 percent). That's the largest gap recorded by AP-Ipsos since Bush took office. Even 31 percent of conservatives want Republicans out of power.

o The souring of the nation's mood has accelerated the past three months, with the percentage of people describing the nation on the wrong track rising 12 points to a new high of 73 percent. Six of 10 conservatives say America is headed in the wrong direction.

Republican strategists said the party stands to lose control of Congress unless the environment changes unexpectedly.

The usual caveats apply here, of course. Polls can be manipulated by way of the question asked, the people sampled or the interpretation of the replies. However, the figures cited are consistent with other polls, even those conducted by GOP-friendly media outlets. Anecdotally, the poll’s results are consistent with the rumblings I hear with increasing frequency and venom amongst my conservative acquaintances.

Conservatives are seething for many good reasons, but I suspect immigration was the final straw. The president can’t even be straight with the American people about whether he favors singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Spanish of English (answer: in English only, except at his own campaign events when he’s trying to woo Latino voters). The GOP needs to ask itself how it expects to win in November when it adopts policies (especially on immigration) that run directly opposite to what its constituents demand? If conservatives are angry about with the direction the GOP leadership and White House have been leading the country, a huge part of that anger is the fury of realizing they’ve been deceived – or have let themselves be deceived.

A massive GOP bloodbath in November now seems the only way to convince Republican office holders that they need to pay heed to their constituents. Nothing else appears effective.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Condeleezza Gets It Exactly Wrong

In anticipation of the May Day protests by illegal aliens in the US, Adam Kidron, son of a wealthy Marxist radical publisher and a UK citizen, orchestrated and released a Spanish language version of the US National Anthem (Mr. Kidron’s ideological lineage is ably exposed by the indispensable Steve Sailer). Kidron’s ideological interest in promoting an alternative version of the anthem almost certainly coincides with the motives of the organizers of the protests, who choose May Day (the International Socialist Workers holiday, celebrated by every Marxist hellhole on Earth – from which, ironically, actual workers flee at every opportunity). President Bush, sensing either that his poll numbers were nosediving too fast, or that the Spanish language anthem gave away the logical conclusion of his border policy (better for Americans to wait twenty years for the nifty surprise ending), hastily rejected the new anthem, saying he preferred the anthem (though apparently nothing else) to remain in English. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, however, either hadn’t received the morning’s talking points, or was still regurgitating the administration’s multiculturalist spin when she demurred, saying the Spanish language version was just fine:

In contrast to Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seems accepting of different versions of "The Star-Spangled Banner": "I’ve heard the national anthem done in rap versions, country versions, classical versions. The individualization of the American national anthem is quite under way."

Ms. Rice’s statement nicely illustrates the intellectual vacuum that currently presides at the White House. Nations or cultures may be composed of individuals, but they are held together by common ideas, traditions, values and symbols. These supplement the more basic elements that unite cultures: race, religion and language. America has – with great difficulty – managed to somewhat transcend (or convinced itself that it has) race and religion, but only because there is an overwhelming majority of Christians and whites. As the proportion of other races and non-Christian religions grow, the tensions are likely to increase, and unity to splinter along ethnic and religious lines. But trying to accommodate a diversity of languages will likely be the end of the whole charade. If people can’t understand each other, they are as effectively separated as if living on opposite sides of a great wall. The huge numbers of Spanish-speaking immigrants pouring illegally across the US-Mexico border allow them to resist the natural tendency toward cultural and linguistic assimilation. They live in Spanish-speaking communities, served by Spanish-speaking media, corporations and government bureaucrats. They are quite capable of living their daily lives without learning English. The overwhelming need to learn English – which formerly compelled Italian, Polish, Russian, Chinese, German, French, etc., immigrants to learn English – does not exist for Spanish-speaking immigrants. True, their failure to learn English cuts them off from the higher reaches of education and commerce, but this only reinforces their cultural isolation, which will eventually turn into hostility toward the English speaking majority, leaving a country balkanized between increasingly radicalized ethnic groups.

So when Ms. Rice speaks of the "individualization" of the anthem, she makes a fundamental error. The symbols of shared cultural or national identity resist individualization because to individualize them defeats their unifying purpose. The national anthem is meant to unite Americans, to inspire feelings of pride and unity in the commonly-held ideal of America. Language is a powerful means of shared cultural identity. Multiple languages are a true sign of diversity – or in this case, disunity. That may be with Mr. Kidron and those behind the May Day protests want to promote. One hopes it is not what Ms. Rice and the administration want, even if it is the logical outcome of their policies.

May Day Mobs and Threats

Yesterday’s "Day Without Illegals" manifestly failed to paralyze the US, failing to bring out the millions of demonstrators the organizers hoped to mobilize. But Americans should draw little comfort from that. Where protestors did turn out, the numbers and the message were telling. Hundreds of thousands marched in Chicago, Los Angeles and Denver. These protestors – illegal aliens, Latino activists and leftists of various stripes – brazenly demanded that their deliberate violation of American law and national sovereignty be officially accomodated by native born Americans and legal immigrants.

It says a lot about contemporary American culture that illegal aliens would feel safe enough to openly threaten the population of their host country. And make not mistake, yesterday’s protests were meant as a threat. That’s what a boycott is: economic retaliation for some perceived grievance. In this case, a million or so illegal aliens were demanding that the nation whose laws they’d broken legitimize their crime and surrender its inherent right to national sovereignty. Yesterday was meant as a show of muscle, both economic and physical, a not-so-subtle display to the American people the size of the alien population growing within the US, with the direct implication that this population must be appeased, or there will be trouble. Pat Buchanan, who has been warning of this scenario for years, puts it best:

May Day was a strike against America. It was a show of force, a demonstration of raw street power to force the government of the United States into granting to 12 million illegal aliens, who have broken our laws and broken into our country, not only the full benefits of U.S. citizenship, but full citizenship.

It was brazen act of extortion to coerce Congress to grant amnesty now, and not to enforce our immigration laws or secure the Mexican border – or to be ready for big trouble in the streets.

Buchanan realizes the increasingly mortal threat to the US from the open border. The protests in the US have advertised to the rest of the world both American physical vulnerability (virtually anyone can run across the border) and American internal weakness. If the US government cannot effectively control its own territory, than what does it control? If the American people allow themselves to be blackmailed by lawbreakers on their own soil, how will other foreigners regard American law or policy? They will properly regard it with contempt.

Buchanan sets forth the response he’d like to see:

Congress cannot capitulate. The response of any Congress that calls itself American to such extortion should be a direct one:

"We are not intimidated. There is going to be no amnesty. The border fence goes up this summer. Those are our non-negotiable answers to your non-negotiable demands. Demonstrate all you want. We're not capitulating."

The message that would go out to the world would be electric: Congress will have said, first, that the United States will not be cowed by strikes or boycotts by law-breakers. Second, America intends to re-establish control of her border. Third, the invasion route from Mexico is going to be closed, forever.

Fourth, those who come to America henceforth will be those we invite in. And, as guests, they will behave as guests – or they will be going back home. As for businesses that cannot get along without illegal foreign labor, if some of their CEOs are prosecuted and put to work in Arizona building that security fence, they will rapidly rediscover how to make a buck without colluding in an invasion of their country for commercial purposes.

It’s precisely the right response. And it will never happen. President Bush has refused to enforce the border – even after September 11th – rendering all his much inflated talk of "homeland security" and a "war on terrorism" as cynical hype. If the president believed even a fraction of his rhetoric on the threat of terrorism (which, unfortunately, is all too real), securing the borders would have been the first thing done. Since he has left the borders open, we can conclude he either doesn’t believe foreign terrorists are trying to enter the US, or is hoping that they succeed. The GOP is fracturing badly over the issue with the pro-business wing driving the open borders policy straight toward party suicide.

Democrats, of course, like the open borders policy, since they know that the millions of Mexicans and Central Americans pouring across the borders will instantly qualify for all sorts of public assistance. Many, coming from poor and leftist-trending countries, will expect such assistance. Once they have been weaned on taxpayer-supported education, welfare and medical care, they can be readily assembled into a new ethnic political bloc, which will almost certainly vote democrat (for more public assistance), assuming they bother to vote at all. Karl Rove’s delusions notwithstanding, they will certainly not vote Republican. The danger of encouraging the emergence of a new and potent ethnic bloc for American cultural cohesion is lost on the Democrats, for whom patriotism, nationalism and American are increasingly dirty words, soaked as they are will notions of imperialism, racism and oppression. This is not Jack Kennedy’s Democrat Party.

In the fourth century, the Roman Empire lost control of its western borders. A paucity of young men to fill its legions, worsened by political infighting and paralysis in Rome, led Roman emperors to permit thousands of barbarians to migrate, unchecked, into Roman land and settle there. The barbarians – Visigoths, by name - who made this journey, driven by even more hostile tribes nipping at their heels, mostly admired the Roman way of life. But they weren’t Romans, and their allegiance remained to their own tribesmen and tribal identity. When the Romans could not assimilate their numbers (and they didn’t much try), the Goths grew hostile, rebelled and ultimately sacked Rome. This is not so unusual a story in history. The characters and details change, but the plot plays itself out again and again.