- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 13, 2006

Good men always rally to the battle cry when the issue stands in doubt: “We have not yet begun to fight.” Or this one: “Rally to the Virginians, boys, there stands Jackson like a stone wall.” Or this one: “Remember Pearl Harbor.”

But nobody rallies to this one: “Every man for himself.”

The congressional Republicans have scattered now for two weeks, to return to their districts to convince skeptical constituents that they’re still not as bad as the Democrats — or even as bad as the president, if that’s what their constituents want to think. “We’re bad,” they’re saying, “but not that bad.”

The Democrats and their acolytes in the mainstream media have convinced congressional Republicans that George W. is roadkill, and if a voice has been raised to defend the president’s execution of the war against the terrorists, the most important cause of our time, the most sensitive noise meter has not detected it. Whether the president wants or would tolerate support from these Republican congressmen — zero plus zero is still zero — is another matter.

“A category five political storm is building in GOP precincts around the country,” the Wall Street Journal angrily observed yesterday, “and it is going to blow Republicans right out of the majority in November if they don’t soon give their supporters some reason to re-elect them. So far this year they’ve passed the limits on free speech that liberals love, but they haven’t been able to extend the wildly successful 2003 tax cuts by even a mere two years. And now they won’t even allow a vote on budget reforms that their own president and a majority of their own members support.”

The Journal is usually the most reliable Republican voice anywhere, with concerns chiefly economic, and together with the Republican reluctance to do what is necessary to protect national sovereignty on the border these concerns can be more than enough to sink the Republican majority.

The president, to be sure, sometimes taxes the patience and tries the loyalty of his most devoted friends. The immigration issue, the rogue elephant in the parlor, is Exhibit No. 1. The president yesterday shadowboxed with Sen. Harry Reid, the leader of the Democratic minority in the Senate, over who is to blame for the collapse of immigration reform legislation. Neither the president nor his Democratic foes in Congress say what it is they’re actually proposing. The president is determined to get citizenship — “amnesty” is the word that sticks in the throats of the Amnesty Caucus — for the millions of illegal aliens already here, and to get more “guest workers” for the employers who covet cheap and easily abused labor. He calls this a “compromise” with his friends who want to plug the gusher of illegal immigrants on the border. These loyal friends who insist on orderly immigration, to protect the border as every nation in the world protects its borders, are derided as “nativist,” as “racist,” as “bigots.” Not a nice thing to say about friends you’re counting on to save your bacon in November.

Not framing the argument accurately is foolish because the argument usually devolves into something nobody intends. The immigration argument is fast becoming one over whether America should have open borders. Anybody who shows up gets in. The 107 million Mexicans still south of the Rio Grande could all be here by midcentury (or before).

This occurs to Peggy Noonan, also writing in the Wall Street Journal. She is the granddaughter of immigrants, and writes movingly and with touching sentiment about the bravery and courage of desperate men and women who leave their homeland in search of a good life. Nevertheless, she says, “I think open-borders proponents are, simply, wrong. I think those who call good people like members of the voluntary border patrols ‘yahoos’ are snobs. I think those whose primary concern is preserving the Hispanic vote for the Democratic Party, or not losing the Hispanic vote for the Republican Party, are being cynical, selfish, and stupid, too. It’s not at all about who gets what vote, it’s about continuing a system of laws that has allowed America to become, among many other things, a place immigrants want to come to. And it’s about admitting immigrants in a coherent, orderly, legal manner, with an eye first to what America needs. That’s how you continue a good thing, which is what we’ve had.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.

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