Wednesday, March 29, 2006

More on Immigration

The following is a conversation I had with a Republican blogger. As Usual he went on to point out the weakness of the Dem plan without really talking about the failures of the Bush administration.


I might be an easy grader. But, the baseline has been dramatically altered too. We can both probably agree on the current state of affairs in Afghanistan and Iraq. The problem is; this sorry state of affairs is the result of a very badly planned and executed Bush foreign policy. Yes, there aren’t a lot of appetizing options now in both Afghanistan and Iraq. And why is that? That is a legitimate question. To my mind it is the result of a poorly thought out and implemented policy by the Bush administration. This is where the Democrats can point out their differences with the Republicans.

If Gore had won in 2000 would we have invaded Afghanistan after 9/11? Yes. Would we have stayed to finish the job? I think so. Would we have invaded Iraq? I don’t think so. Would the world really be worse off if Saddam Hussein remained in power today? Speaking of dirty little secrets; I would so NO, the world, and the US in particular would not be worse off if Saddam remained in power. That’s the other dirty little secret Republicans don’t want to talk about.

As for the “here’s our vision”, at least the Democrats are offering up something other than “stay the course”. If the 2006 election ends up being about who has the better vision, the Democrats win. The American public has already seen way too much of the Bush/Republican vision of how the world ought to be.

Republican Blogger:

I think you're an easy grader, Teresa. This kind of generic "here's our vision" document would have been useful after 2004, when the Democrats really were back to square one, and needed to hammer out some basics before coming up with some more specific proposals.

(I'll provide you with a handy counterargument - "yeah, Jim, if the Democrats had followed your advice and done this earlier, they would be ahead in the polls and with great momentum for 2006 - oh, wait a minute, they didn't follow your advice and that happened anyway!")

I think the dirty little secret on national security policy is that there aren't a lot of appetizing options that are significantly distinct from what the Bush administration is doing right now. On catching OBL, presumably the biggest obstacle right now is Pakistan's shaky control over the tribal areas. Do we send in a bunch of troops and de facto invade? Very messy, probably very bloody. But beyond that, we're hoping for some informant to come through with something and/or hoping to get lucky with a Predator drone.

On "finishing the job in Afghanistan", I think the Rahman case showed us the ugly truth about Afghani tribal society. Are we twisting arms and applying diplomatic pressure over there as much as we could? If we twist or press harder, do they break and do the Afghanis turn on us? How much is too much, and persuades the average Afghani on the street that Karzai's our puppet?

On Iraq, it's like Afghanistan, but worse. I think Americans are tiring of waiting for the Iraqis to get their act together, and even I have my times where I wonder if the skeptics are right - that a civil society cannot be formed out of the sectarian hatred of the Sunni, Shia, and Kurd; or perhaps they need a decade-long bloodletting like the Balkans before they will consider peaceful coexistence.

Tough problems, that don't have easy solutions. Tough to turn that into a distinct, appealing political agenda.

But reciting goals with no plans, as Reid and Pelosi did today, isn't all that dissimilar from what many Administration critics call the Bush/Cheney/Rummy "happy talk."

Of course my Republican friend can't see beyond his own preconceived notion of reality. That's not a surprise. I always hope that Republicans will move beyond their own self created reality; but it rarely happens.


The big controversy of the day is immigration. That's not surprising. It's a classic wedge issue for the Republicans (and Lou Dobbs ratings), and this is after all an election year. So it's no surprise that we're talking about it.

The pleasant surprise for me is how the Senate Judiciary Committee is discussing the issue. On the whole the Senators are actually thinking about the situation and not just making speeches for their constituents (except Kyl and Cronin - no big surprise). The unpleasant aspect but not a surprise is Bill Frist's plan to bring up his own competing bill in the Senate.

Honestly, can that man be any more tone deaf when it comes to politics? He is doing his best to alienate the Senators in his own party on this issue. He can't leave the Senate soon enough. And, if he continues to play to the fundamentalist right he might just get the Republican nomination for President in 2008. For moderates and liberals in the country that would surely be a gift from heaven. There is no way he gets elected. Even Hillary would win.