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President Bush on Critics of Immigration Bill:
From a Presidential address this morning in Georgia, with italics added:
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.
  UPDATE: Just to be clear, what I find notable -- and very unfortunate -- is the use of this kind of language coming from the President of the United States. I realize that it's easy to find such rhetoric online, and that some columnists use it. But it's different coming from the President of the United States, who deserves to be held to a much higher standard.
John T (mail):
Seems like fairly typical political rhetoric that I hear from all sides in all debates. (It's a lot less extreme than the claims made about, e.g,. welfare reform.) In this particular one, there's been no shortage of people opposing the bill of accusing Bush and other supporters of wanting to exploit cheap labor and impose a rigid class hierarchy on the US, and of wanting to do something, well, "not right for America." What's your point?
5.29.2007 5:35pm
Nathan Richardson (mail):
I agree with John T - seems like pretty standard political rhetoric. It's a meaningless ad-hom that adds nothing substantive, but that's nothing new, from Bush specifically or politicians generally.

What are we missing?
5.29.2007 5:46pm
Gabriel Malor (mail):
Aren't all politicians claiming to make choices based on "what's right for America?" I personally would have trouble voting for someone who couldn't claim that their positions are the right ones for America.
5.29.2007 5:53pm
LM (mail):
I'll go stand in the corner with the previous three commenters if I have to, but I don't get it either.
5.29.2007 6:00pm
Matt P (mail):
What troubles me most is that this kind of thing is par for the course. Its troubling that this kind of thing is accepted as an actual argument for or against anything.

The real problem is not just that this is ad-hominim, it is that it is using intention as a reason for making policy choices. Intentions are far too easy to fake or misunderstand and using them to make choices automatically makes every choice a personality issue. One of the things you learn in doing mediation is to never allow anyone to get away with assuming someone else's motivations -- it never ends well.
5.29.2007 6:05pm
noah:
orin--posting that was decidedly WRONG for america! how dare you!
5.29.2007 6:06pm
OrinKerr:
Given that you all don't want what is right for America, I'm not surprised that you don't find this notable.

Seriously, though, I was struck by the phrasing. I'd be interested to know if previous Presidents ever used it; I don't recall ever hearing it from Reagan or Clinton, but maybe I am just forgetting it. Do you know?
5.29.2007 6:08pm
MikeC&F (mail):
"I'm a uniter, not a divider. I refuse to play the politics of putting people into groups and pitting one group against another." - President George W. Bush.

Of course, if you oppose the immigration bill or anything else the President supports, you are part of the group who doesn't want what's right for America.

Anyhow, while it's quite common (though inappropriate) for partisan hacks to say such things, presidents should be, well... more presidential. Reasonable minds can disagree over whether allowing 13 million unskilled criminals to become citizens is what's right for America. People of good faith who want what's right for America can - and often do - disagree over such things.
5.29.2007 6:09pm
Rbt N. (mail):
Here's a clue for you all: This time it's different. I'm a military-first Republican, but now I understand why he engenders such visceral hatred on the left. Patronizing? - He gives new meaning to the word.
5.29.2007 6:16pm
DJR:
"13 million unskilled criminals"

Nice, MikeC&F, very nice.
5.29.2007 6:16pm
Steve:
There's a qualitative difference between saying "this bill is right for America" and "people who oppose this bill don't want what's right for America."

I'd be surprised if Reagan ever said that liberals didn't want what was right for America; he just thought liberals were misguided. The starting point in political dialogue ought to be that we all want what's best for the country, but the other guy happens to be wrong in how he goes about it. Once you start saying that the other side doesn't want what's best for the country, or wants the terrorists to win, or what have you, you've crossed a line.
5.29.2007 6:19pm
TLB (mail) (www):
Bush's failure to enforce our laws has had an extremely negative impact on the U.S., and the bill he's pushing would continue that. So, he's wrong.

However, if you want worse rhetoric, look into the hacks who've tried to help push the bill, for instance LindaChavez' latest column ("Some people just don't like Mexicans..."), the "Axis of Evil" guy attacking GOP nativists, RobertNovak tearfully conflating legal and illegal immigration and calling names, and this from MichaelChertoff:

"I understand there's some people who expect anything other than capital punishment is an amnesty."

He also said that the Senate bill "was an effort to really be straight with the American public" and that he didn't think Mexico was encouraging "migration" (the term the MexicanGovernment uses).

IOW, the Bush quote above is just the tip of a very, very rotten iceberg.
5.29.2007 6:23pm
ed o:
yep, MikeC&F-only perhaps 1 or 2 million of them are criminals. The large majority of the rest are simply unskilled and uneducated. with that being said, it is understandable that their home countries are happy to see them gone-why we want them is something I still can't quite figure out. As to the quote, Bush is essentially peeing on the one group of people in America who have stood by him through thick and thin. If he needs votes on anything, will they continue to be there?
5.29.2007 6:24pm
CJColucci:
Like Orin, I don't recall previous Presidents using this type of phrasing. It is depressingly common down the political food chain, but we usually expect -- and usually get -- better from our Presidents.
5.29.2007 6:25pm
MikeC&F (mail):
Nice, MikeC&F, very nice.

Thank you. I learned it by watching the President.

I'm a military-first Republican, but now I understand why he engenders such visceral hatred on the left. Patronizing? - He gives new meaning to the word.

The President has always viewed himself as doing "God's work." Thus, if you're not with us, you're not merely against us: You're on the side of evil. It truly is appalling that it has taken Republicans almost a decade to recognize Bush's tactics.

I was just about to coin a new phase - political empathy - but it seems others beat me to it:
http://tinyurl.com/27oqpe

In any event, politics is now such that no one can empathize with people on the other side. "What do you mean that it disturbs you when the President of the United States claims that you are a de facto support of Al Qaeda because you oppose invading Iraq?"

Now that Bush is giving the same medicine to the base, people are finally starting to understand why people on the Left hate Bush so. The problem is this: It shouldn't have taken you so damned long.
5.29.2007 6:26pm
Captain Holly (mail):
I would interpret the President's intemperate remarks -- directly mainly towards members of his own party -- as a sign of increasing desperation. It would appear that the "slam dunk" compromise bill isn't as sure a thing as White House advisors and the talking heads of the Media think it is. Frustration is starting to set in.
5.29.2007 6:30pm
MikeC&F (mail):
yep, MikeC&F-only perhaps 1 or 2 million of them are criminals. The large majority of the rest are simply unskilled and uneducated.

Sigh. My post was intended to be ironic.

But since two people have "called me out" on my characterization, I'll cite to some actual law. Under 8 U.S.C. 1325, any alien who enters the United States without authorization violates the law. If you violate the law, you are a criminal. Thus, the people covered under the proposed legislation are criminals.

Here's some reading on the matter:
The Code

The Manual
5.29.2007 6:35pm
ed o:
I was being serious, not ironic. if we have 13 million illegals, why wouldn't 1 or 2 million be criminals. they are also likely to be unskilled and uneducated-they can't provide us with cheap labor if they have something more than a strong back going for them. Essentially, our southern friends have come up with an ingenious solution to poverty and unemployment-ship them to the US.
5.29.2007 6:44pm
pcgirl (www):

There's a qualitative difference between saying "this bill is right for America" and "people who oppose this bill don't want what's right for America."

...The starting point in political dialogue ought to be that we all want what's best for the country, but the other guy happens to be wrong in how he goes about it. Once you start saying that the other side doesn't want what's best for the country, or wants the terrorists to win, or what have you, you've crossed a line.


My thoughts exactly.
5.29.2007 7:07pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Seriously, though, I was struck by the phrasing. I'd be interested to know if previous Presidents ever used it; I don't recall ever hearing it from Reagan or Clinton, but maybe I am just forgetting it. Do you know?

"When first-graders shoot first-graders, it's time for Congress to do what's right for America's families" - President Bill Clinton, March 7, 2000 calling for new gun control measures to be sent to him by the anniversary of the Columbine shootings.


"By contrast, the Republican Congress is taking the wrong way. Last week it passed the biggest Medicare cuts in our history. They're about to pass about $148 billion in taxes and fees on working families and elderly people and low-income Americans. And their budget slashes education and technology. It undercuts the environment. In other words, it balances the budget, but it still mortgages our future. . . .We ought to do what's right for America." - President Bill Clinton, October 25, 1995 attacking Republican efforts to reduce the rate of growth of federal spending.



"Again, I would urge you to reach out to Members of both parties. Tell them, "Don't play politics with this. Do what's right for America and do it this year."" - President Bill Clinton, May 16, 1994 trying to bolster support for his failing Health Care reform bill
5.29.2007 7:15pm
OrinKerr:
Thorley,

Thanks for the cites, but the phrasing I have in mind is that opponents "don't want to do what's right for America," not that what the President wants is right for America.
5.29.2007 7:19pm
midlantan (mail):
"13 million unskilled criminals"

Thankfully these are unskilled criminals. If we see an influx of skilled criminals from south of the border, the jobs of skilled American criminals will be threatened, and their wages depressed.

Yes, I recognize MikeC&F's intended irony. But it's worth mentioning that not all undocumented/illegal aliens are unskilled. A fair number are quite skilled (in the technical sense of skilled labor. Obviously nearly all would be "skilled" in a colloquial sense).
5.29.2007 7:23pm
TLB (mail) (www):
ed o says: Essentially, our southern friends have come up with an ingenious solution to poverty and unemployment-ship them to the US.

It's even better for them: they get billions sent home. And, it's even worse for us, as crooked banks - and even the FederalReserve - are trying to profit from that flow. The Bush administration even fought to allow banks to accept Mexico's ID card to further enable the flow.

As for the post's UPDATE, there are things that the president says, and things that he (or his handlers) tell others to say. The people I mentioned above are, IMNSHO, little more than proxies for Bush. Bush might not have personally told them to say what they said, but (again IMNSHO) I have little doubt that someone in the WH asked them to help with the push. There's certainly a difference between what the president himself says and what he or his handlers ask others to say, but it's not that great of a difference.
5.29.2007 7:26pm
rd (mail):
But isn't the unavoidable implication of Clinton's speech that opponents of passing health care reform prefer "playing politics" to "doing what's right for America"? Bush just seems to have stated the same idea a little more baldly. I'm not sure it marks some kind of paradigm shift.
5.29.2007 7:27pm
Steve P. (mail):
If you violate the law, you are a criminal.
I really enjoyed the ironic post, but I have a serious question about this quote. Can we characterize anyone who has 'violated the law' as being a criminal? If so, the definition of a 'criminal' is oddly loose. It seems like almost everyone has violated a law at some point in their life; I certainly have. Adding 13 million criminals to a nation of ~200 million criminals doesn't seem to be that big of a deal.

I'm sure this discussion has been hashed and rehashed many a time, would someone like to point me in a good direction?
5.29.2007 7:35pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Clinton appeals to his opponents to "do what's right for America," which assumes that they want that, too.

Bush, by hypothesizing that his opponents do *not* want what's right for America, is making a qualitatively different statement.
5.29.2007 7:43pm
Hattio (mail):
I have to back up what Mike C &F said. Call liberals terrorists, or claim they want the terrorists to win? Nothing to see hear, move along, move along. Claim conservatives don't want to do what's right for America? All of a sudden we have a president who's not being presidential. Who should realize he's being held to a higher standard than bloggers and commentators. Why is the standard for presidential outlandish rhetoric all of a sudden raised when it's directed at conservatives?
5.29.2007 7:48pm
Hewart:
Anderson is exactly right. The statements are qualitatively different.

The first assumes that we all want to do what's right, and simply offers exhortation to do so.

The second suggests that opponents don't actually want to do what's right.

Of course, Cheney's been using this kind of insulting rhetoric for years, now...
5.29.2007 7:49pm
MikeC&F (mail):
Can we characterize anyone who has 'violated the law' as being a criminal? If so, the definition of a 'criminal' is oddly loose. It seems like almost everyone has violated a law at some point in their life; I certainly have.

Good points, and I like discussions like this.

As John Edwards might say: There are Three Americas. We live in a world of infractors (those of us who speed or do "California stops" at stop signs); misdemeanants, and felons.
5.29.2007 7:50pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Anderson is exactly right.

Yeah, now tell my wife that ...
5.29.2007 7:55pm
Eliza (mail):

It truly is appalling that it has taken Republicans almost a decade to recognize Bush's tactics.


It's not a tactic. He thinks in these terms.
5.29.2007 8:10pm
A.S.:
Clinton appeals to his opponents to "do what's right for America," which assumes that they want that, too.

I don't get this. How could Clinton be assuming that his opponents want to do what's right for America if what Clinton believes that what he proposes is what's right for America and yet his opponents oppose Clinton's proposal. By definition, then, Clinton believes that his opponents don't want what's right for America.
5.29.2007 8:22pm
A.S.:
The issue here is syntax.

Example: I say "Policy X is right for America". I say "Opponent A doesn't want Policy X". Well, should you be able to substitute the words "right for America" into that latter sentence where it currently says "Policy X" without making a difference to the meaning of the sentence? Logically, it would seem so. And in that case, what Bush said and what Clinton said were identical. But by doing so, I suppose you introduce a syntactical ambiguity - does the word "want" merely apply to Policy X, or does it apply generally to all issues?
5.29.2007 8:29pm
Hattio (mail):
A.S.,
I think you're analysis misses something here. I want to do X because I think X is right for America. Bush does not want to do X. The question isn't whether Bush then doesn't want to do anything that's right for America. The question is, am I correct in saying X is what's right for America.

But again, I think the truly appalling thing here is not Bush's rhetoric, but the fact that conservatives (by and large, not all) didn't have a problem with similar rhetoric when it was aimed at liberals. Either running down your countrymen's patriotism is not the correct way to express that you think their policies, or it is. Shouldn't matter which countrymen are being run down.
5.29.2007 8:37pm
Hattio (mail):
the previous post should read "that you think their policies are wrong"
5.29.2007 8:38pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Orin, considering some of the rhetoric we've seen direcgted at, including in some posts on this blog, this seems pretty mild and unexceptionable.
5.29.2007 8:39pm
neurodoc:
Like Orin, I don't recall previous Presidents using this type of phrasing. It is depressingly common down the political food chain, but we usually expect -- and usually get -- better from our Presidents.

Not from this one.
5.29.2007 8:40pm
A.S.:
The question isn't whether Bush then doesn't want to do anything that's right for America. The question is, am I correct in saying X is what's right for America.

But that's exactly the syntactical ambiguity in question, isn't it? Is Bush referring to "anything" (as you put it), or just to the immigration bill?

Or, put another way, it all comes down to the mean of the word "what". As I see it, there are two possibilities for the meaning of the word "what" in Bush's prasing:

A: "if you don't want to do [the immigration bill, which is] right for America"

B: "if you don't want to do [anything that is] right for America"

If you replace "what" with the bracketed language in "A", above, you get a sentence that is the equivalent of what Clinton said. And if you replace "what" with the bracket langauge in "B", you get something more nefarious.

And I suspect that Orin is right that you don't see the phrasing Bush used because of its ambiguity - a better speaker (say, Clinton) would probably not introduce that ambiguity into the sentence.
5.29.2007 8:54pm
dr:
"If you want to kill the bill, if you don't want to do what's right for America..."

I think that, as phrased, this pretty clearly links "wanting to kill the bill" with "not wanting what's right for America." In fact, as phrased here, it appears to be a re-wording. As long as we're adding words in brackets to clarify, this sentence could be reasonably and without a change in meaning be expanded to:

"If you want to kill the bill, [or in other words,] if you don't want to do what's right for America..."

The implication there is that we can all agree that this bill is what's right for America, and the rest simply follows.

That's pretty clearly not the same thing as saying "I think this bill is what's right for America. You want to kill this bill. Therefore, you think this bill is wrong for America. You're wrong about that."
5.29.2007 9:12pm
Daedalus (mail):
This is what happens when two mindless competing group clash. One wants cheap votes and the other wants cheap labor. Neither group has the best interests of the taxpaying American citizens, or legal immigrant (including naturalized citizens) taxpayers.
5.29.2007 9:16pm
Eliza (mail):
Either running down your countrymen's patriotism is not the correct way to express that you think their policies, or it is.

Liberals are extraordinarily touchy about their patriotism. In fact most conservatives go out of their way not to play that card and Bush is one of them. We know in the vast majority of cases it's an unfair criticism. Just as liberals have pretty much decided to forgo the whole conservatives hate the poor calumny (if only they'd lay down the race card as well).

But that's not what Bush is doing here. Most of his opponents are of his own party and he knows that. He's not accusing them of bad faith, he's accusing them of failing to do the "right thing." And that's not rhetoric, it's what he thinks. I freely grant that it's aggravating that he views himself as the "decider" of such things. Domestically his presidency has been a bitter pill for many conservatives. I'll never forgive him for the drug benefit.
5.29.2007 9:25pm
BGates (www):
"This is the way the Republicans make a living in national politics, by destroying their opponents. That's their bread and butter. They don't care if they are hypocritical. They don't care if they are fair. They don't care if they're dealing with doctored evidence. They don't care anything about that. That's their deal. They are not interested in governing and changing. They are very interested in maintaining power."
-Bill Clinton
"The administration works closely with a network of rapid-response digital Brown Shirts who work to pressure reporters and their editors for undermining support for our troops," Gore said.
"What is it about working men and women that you find so offensive?"-Ted Kennedy

I note that none of the commenters who were appalled at the awful rhetoric that was supposedly directed at Democrats lo these many years are able to produce examples of what Bush said that was so out of line.
5.29.2007 9:28pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"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."

No Mr. President, it's pretty much the whole immigration bill that stinks, not a narrow slice. Of course there are some narrow slices that especially stink that you wanted, like tax amnesty for illegal aliens.
5.29.2007 9:37pm
ATRGeek:
I am shocked, shocked, to find out that this President can be insultingly dismissive of those who criticize his policies.
5.29.2007 9:47pm
Hattio (mail):
Eliza,
You are joking right? Most conservatives go out of their way not to play the patriotism card? Assume for a minute that you're correct and Bush never called those against his war traitors. I sure remember somebody calling those who opposed the war traitors. I don't think it was a liberal.
Finally, you're right that "it's not what Bush is doing here." Of course, this time he is mostly attacking liberals. And all of a sudden conservatives find over-the-top rhetoric by a president offensive. That's the problem, that conservatives who are finally being slammed by this president FINALLY find his rhetoric offensive.
5.29.2007 9:55pm
sbron:
Bush, Bill Gates, Chertoff, Linda Chavez, etc.
share a common viewpoint. They all think we are
lazy stupid nativists who don't know how to program
computers, build houses or even bus tables,
and all want absolutely
open borders. Bill Gates even told Congress he would
prefer "no limits" on H1-B visas. Given their contempt
for us, it is no surprise that Bush believes we "don't
want to do what's right for America."
5.29.2007 9:56pm
Hattio (mail):
Whoops, this time attacking mostly conservatives. I should really check out that preview function.
5.29.2007 9:58pm
DonBoy (mail) (www):
There's a less contentious version of some of what's being said here. I've seen it in this form:

1. John believes that Helsinki is the capital of Norway.
2. Helsinki is the capital of Finland.
therefore,
3. John believes that the capital of Finland is the capital of Norway.

Once you wrap your mind around the way in which the apparently-simple syllogism fails -- John knows, after all, that the capitals of Sweden and Norway, whatever they are, are different -- you can get the analogy to Bush's statement.
5.29.2007 10:01pm
NickM (mail) (www):
What makes this statement different and surprising is that the primary group being insulted is the President's own party. That's the man bites dog feature.

Nick
5.29.2007 10:21pm
Baseballhead (mail):
And that's the most damning part about this thread. If the comments had been directed at Democrats, it would be business as usual, and there'd be no such expressions of surprise or disgust from conservatives. The problem isn't that such rhetoric being used by our politicians, it's how we've come to accept it as being commonplace.
5.29.2007 10:28pm
Andrew Okun:
1. It is unusual that Bush is doing the insulting here. I would agree with whoever said Bush usually goes out of his way to avoid impugning the patriotism of liberals and Democrats with regard to the war on terror and in Iraq. He doesn't usually say that stuff. You hear it on AM radio and Fox News, where the Dems and liberals are "advocating defeat" or "against Victory," and you hear it from Cheney and Rove and in Republican campaign ads. Bush makes nice(r) while others distrubute red meat to the right and fear to the center. I can't help but wonder if Bush is rapidly losing what is left of his political skills for him to do the insulting, of a chunk of his base no less, personally.

2. I think there may be a subtler level of insult going on here. It is not just that "you're not agreeing with my policies ... why do you hate America so?" It is "why do you insist on doing what you think is right for you, instead of what I know is right for America as a whole?" What comes across to the anti-immigrant (not meaning to characterize ... not sure the right label) crowd is that Bush is siding with the pro-immigrant crowd because it's good for business and that is the key issue. In effect, Bush is telling them that either they're being selfish or they're unaware of the salient facts.

I happen to be relatively pro-immigrant and pro some kind of deal that includes a path to legal status along with tougher enforcement. But a lot of people aren't and the things that anger them are often within their personal experience. They are utterly unrepresented in our political system and Bush, in the same way he has screened everyone else out of his foreign policy making, is shooing them off here. "Stop fussing. We're busy managing affairs and we all know you guys can't count that high anyway." Pretty insulting.
5.29.2007 10:53pm
duran:
Leo Katz has an excellent discussion on why the transitive property does not necessarily apply to intentions in his book Bad Acts and Guilty Minds, which, by the way, is one of the most entertaining and thought-provoking books I've read.
5.29.2007 11:01pm
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
Well, I have to admit it, in Bush's idiolect, I really do want what's wrong for America. So I guess he's got me there.
5.30.2007 12:02am
LM (mail):
And I suspect that Orin is right that you don't see the phrasing Bush used because of its ambiguity - a better speaker (say, Clinton) would probably not introduce that ambiguity into the sentence.

Unless the ambiguity was what he was after.

As for the 12 million who entered illegally, and, ergo, are criminals, I believe, though I don't have time to serach for a link, that more or less half of the illegal immigrants entered legally and have overstayed their visas. My (once again anecdotally derived) understanding is that being here on an expired visa is an administrative violation, on the order of a traffic ticket.

I'd welcome more authoritative validation, or being set straight, as applicable.
5.30.2007 12:08am
LM (mail):
Obviously, that should have been "search," not "serach." Sorry, I usually spell much gooder.
5.30.2007 12:11am
Milhouse (www):
Neither Bush nor Rove/Cheney/Minion-of-the-week has claimed that all opponents of the war in Iraq are traitors. What they have claimed is a) opposition to the war objectively helps the enemy, whether the opponents desire that outcome or not; and b) some opponents of the war are traitors.

The second claim is clearly true; while many opposed the invasion of Iraq because they thought it was not in the USA's interest, the most prominent and active opponents, such as ANSWER and the Cindy Sheehan/Michael Moore crowd, opposed it regardless of the USA's interests, because they do not hold those interests at heart.

The first claim is arguable, but it's surely a legitimate argument to make; one may disagree with it, and presumably those patriots who oppose the war do disagree with it, but that disagreement doesn't automatically make it untrue. The administration, which believes it, is surely entitled to make its argument, and perhaps convince some of its opponents to stop their harmful activities.
5.30.2007 12:18am
Milhouse (www):
The distinction between Clinton's and Bush's language is specious. Had Clinton accepted that his opponents didn't agree that his favourite bills were "right for America" it would have made no sense for him to tell them "to do what's right for America". Inherent in such an exhortation is the premise that the target agrees on "what's right for America", but is reluctant to do it, and the way to change his mind is to appeal to his conscience. If the target thinks he's already doing "what's right for America" then how can exhorting him to do so change his mind?

No, Clinton was saying exactly the same thing as what Bush is saying now: "this is clearly the right thing for America, and you know it, but you're opposing it for your own narrow interests, or for those of your party or constituents.
5.30.2007 12:28am
GBarto (mail) (www):
I've generally liked Bush - especially on the War on Terror and taxes. I did not like Clinton at all. But the Clinton formulations in this thread are clearly set up to say the Republicans will harm America because they do the wrong things and believe the wrong things, not because of sheer malice. President Bush's remark comes disturbingly close to suggesting those who disagree with him are not merely wrong on the issue, but that their intentions are inimical to America.

What strikes in the Bush quote is that he has drawn another line in the sand here - one where he, Teddy Kennedy and John McCain are on one side, and Fred Thompson and the National Review are on the other. If I were a Kennedy Democrat, I'd be really worried about the implications of being with the good guys in George Bush's America, while Mark Steyn and friends number among the bad guys.

Believing in the genius of Rove, I've been left with only one plausible reason for the president's remark: He's read the poll numbers, realized the effect his opinion has on events and tried to give the Draft Fred Thompson movement a boost by setting up McCain as a Bush-supporting, Kennedy-loving RINO.
5.30.2007 12:34am
ATRGeek:
Rove, genius or not (and I think a lot of ex-members of Congress might vote for "not"), has long been an advocate of the GOP courting Hispanic voters through being "soft" on immigration, all the way back to his Texas days. Indeed, a major difference between 2004 and 2006 was the GOP share of the Hispanic vote (down from about 40% to about 29%).

Indeed, I suspect you could replace "America" with "the Republican Party" in the quoted statement and more or less get Rove's view.
5.30.2007 12:50am
Meh (mail):
I too am lost. Don't virtually all politicians say that what they propose is good for America, or right for America, or right for Americans, etc.? Bush framed it in the negative -- i.e., "if you don't want to do what's right for America" -- but I don't see the difference.
5.30.2007 1:19am
Anderson (mail) (www):
Thanks for the intellectual honesty, GBarto.
5.30.2007 1:25am
Mr_Thorne (mail) (www):
The problem with the president's statement is that it suggests that those who oppose the bill want to do what's WRONG for the U.S. Either you agree with the president (and Linda Chavez, et al.), or your unAmerican!
5.30.2007 2:09am
Eliza (mail):
I sure remember somebody calling those who opposed the war traitors.

I'm sure you do. But you've got to keep in mind that (and I'm assuming here) you're heavily exposed to the political blogosphere, which while it is the grandest arena of intelligent political debate in this country, it is also home to ranting madmen of every description who embarrass us all. The best way to discourage such people is to ignore them.

And all of a sudden conservatives find over-the-top rhetoric by a president offensive. That's the problem, that conservatives who are finally being slammed by this president FINALLY find his rhetoric offensive.

You're needlessly upset, Hattio. The conservative base is all too used to abuse of the crudest sort from this president. Racist, sexist, elitist, protectionist, xenophobic. We've heard it all.

Harriet Miers was a good example. Bush nominated the "right" person. He expected the party to take it on faith, without a shred of independent evidence, that she would be the kind of judge we'd explicitly elected him to choose--a Scalia or a Thomas. Even the most casual member of the blogospere could have told him before hand that the base would put Dick Cheney in the White House before it let him put Hariet Miers on the Supreme Court. But the White House considered the very existence of the controversy to be an insult and an outrage. He sent his people out to accuse conservative critics of sexism and elitism. He only withdrew her resignation to spare her the humiliation of being voted down in the Senate.

So no, this is nothing new.
5.30.2007 2:46am
Henri Le Compte (mail):
Just a random recollection actually, but I think it points out the strangely one-sided nature of this sudden "sensitivity" to tough political rhetoric. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Joe Biden, 4/20/07, as reported on Yahoo:


Biden, the Senate Foreign Relations committee chairman, called for military action to resolve the killing in Darfur and promoted his plan for peace in
Iraq that would divide the country along ethnic lines.
He said Republicans — from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to
President Bush and White House political adviser Karl Rove — had "wallowed in the politics of polarization."
"I would argue, since 1994 with the Gingrich revolution, just take a look at Iraq, Venezuela, Katrina, what's gone down at Virginia Tech, Darfur, Imus. Take a look. This didn't happen accidentally, all these things," he said.


Now, Joe Biden is not President (thank all that is holy!), but how come this bit of mind-blowing rhetoric escaped those oh-so-delicate sensibilities of Orin and you others?

In one fell swoop, Joe Biden-- nationally prominent Democrat, perennial candidate for President-- blamed Republicans for Hugo Chavez, Dafur, Imus and the Virginia Tech shootings!! I eagerly await your shocked expressions of revulsion... (crickets cheep..... cheep).... (grass grows....)..... zzzzz.....(I grow old.... die).....
5.30.2007 5:02am
Henri Le Compte (mail):
Oh, an addendum:
Orin, what about the time immediately following the Oklahoma City bombing, when President Clinton suggested that talk radio-- and Rush Limbaugh-- were partially responsible? Yes, it is not exactly the wording you were looking for, but only because it is so much worse! That would be like President Bush saying that the evening news-- but in particular Dan Rather-- was partially responsible for 9/11.

But again, I suspect that President Clinton's "explanation" aroused little concern at the time for most of the people posting on this thread. Afterall, he was mostly correct! No?

My point-- I think that President Bush's rhetoric has always been on the mild side. I can easily imagine some Presidents (or potential Presidents) who would be blaming a "vast left-wing conspiracy" right about now.
5.30.2007 5:25am
Justin (mail):
"who deserves to be held to a much higher standard."

Ha...ha....ha.
5.30.2007 9:52am
Justin (mail):
I don't think Biden was saying that the GOP had intended the ill effects of those things, just that they were to blame for it, which is standard fare in politics, and has nothing to do with the above discussion.
5.30.2007 10:02am
rarango (mail):
Pole Vault--Mouse dropping

I'm with the first bunch of commenters
5.30.2007 10:52am
JosephSlater (mail):
Henri L.:

As Justin said, politicians on both sides are always blaming the policies of politicians on the other side for pretty much All that is Bad in the World. Again, however, the rhetoric from the Bush administration (and thus its supporters, including some folks on this blog) too often slips into the, "and they INTEND these bad consequences, because they DON'T CARE about what's good for the U.S."

The Bush quote above is only a mild example of that, but it is amusing to see some on the right get a very small taste of their own medicine.
5.30.2007 11:01am
Anderson (mail) (www):
but how come this bit of mind-blowing rhetoric escaped those oh-so-delicate sensibilities of Orin and you others?

Because "ignore whatever Joe Biden says" is a useful algorithm for addressing the glut of information available to us. I doubt I've missed anything worthwhile as a result.
5.30.2007 11:22am
abb3w:
But it's different coming from the President of the United States, who deserves to be held to a much higher standard.

Semantic Quibble: The Office of the President of the United States deserves to be held to a much higher standard; President Bush deserves to be held to any standard at all. Please.
5.30.2007 11:36am
pcgirl (www):

Liberals are extraordinarily touchy about their patriotism. In fact most conservatives go out of their way not to play that card and Bush is one of them.



...


But you've got to keep in mind that (and I'm assuming here) you're heavily exposed to the political blogosphere, which while it is the grandest arena of intelligent political debate in this country, it is also home to ranting madmen of every description who embarrass us all.


I'm with Hattio on this one, and no, it wasn't just the "ranting madmen" of the "political blogosphere" that explicitly and repeatedly questioned liberals' patriotism for opposing the war. That kind of 'quality' political discussion was (and still is) freely available in both 'major' and 'minor' news media.
5.30.2007 11:57am
pcgirl (www):
And, to be clear, I don't think the liberals have been any better in terms of elevating the political discourse in this country. It's simply (and unfortunately) the way of it.
5.30.2007 12:07pm
Jeremy Pierce (mail) (www):
The complaint seems to be that the president is treating those who disagree with him on this bill don't want to do what's right for America. I think the complaint relies on an ambiguity in the expression. Absent any context, principles of charity, or assumptions about what someone might mean, you can take the expression in either of the following two ways:

A. This bill is right for America, and if you want to kill it then you don't want to do this thing that's right for America.
B. This bill is right for America, and anyone who wants to kill it must agree that it's right for America and therefore
must have a desire to harm America or at least to resist anything that's right for America.

Now I acknowledge that someone could use the language the president used to mean the second thing. However, I find it extremely unlikely that that's what he meant. In context, he was discussing a particular bill and arguing that the bill itself is right for America. The very fact that he was arguing with those who disagree with him on the particular bill, and that he was making an appeal to doing it because it's right for America, means he does think those who disagree with him on the bill want to do what's right for America. So taking him as if he thinks the opposite is at odds with the context of his speech. He wasn't speaking to a closed-room, partisan audience in order to smear his political opponents. He was trying to persuade people who disagree with him. It therefore makes much more sense to interpret the president as fitting within his rhetorical situation rather than opposing it. It's always best to take someone in the most charitable way possible given all your information, and it's more charitable in terms of intellectual coherence to take him as saying A. It's also more charitable in moral terms, since it would be immoral to intend B by the sentence he uttered.

But there's no reason to think he did, and intending A is perfectly fine. So I'm at a loss to understand why there's supposed to be any problem with what he said (aside from whether it actually is best for America, but that's something he's in the process of trying to argue for, and mentioning that he thinks it's best for America is perfectly legitimate in that context).
5.30.2007 1:38pm
eh (mail):
...who deserves to be held to a much higher standard.

This is some kind of a joke, right? It's been obvious for some time that Bush is a cretin. Talk of holding him to a "higher standard", or that he ought to be held to that, is absurd.

...President Bush deserves to be held to any standard at all. Please.

Here here.
5.30.2007 1:49pm
SG:
"It's been obvious for some time that Bush is a cretin."

I guess this is an example of the higher level of political discourse that Bush has disappointed us by not providing.

FWIW, I read his statement somewhat differently. There's been a lot of claims that the immigration bill is going to destroy America and that it's being advanced in bad faith. I take Bush to be emphasizing that he supports the bill because it is "what's right for America" and not for some other nefarious purpose.

Of course, I can't understand why he would think someone would believe he's taken a position in bad faith. Certainly that's no rational basis for that belief, is there?
5.30.2007 2:16pm
Justin (mail):
SG, you must have forgotton to read the words immediately preceding and following that phrase, a few of which are in the very emphasized sentence Orin highlighted. While a charitable interpretation is possible (though, at some point, history has to be considered in how often to grant such charity, which has been a point of many liberals here), your charitable interpretation is simply not possible given the context.
5.30.2007 2:29pm
SG:
Justin:

You're free to read it your way and I can understand why. I simply don't. Go read the entire address, not just the one paragraph. There's lots of bipartisan exhorations; it's not simply a demonization of his political opponents. He lays out in detail why he thinks the bill is good for America (for the record: I don't agree). This statement is out of the conclusion, where he's summarizing his argument. His phrasing is not artful (are you surprised?), and it is sufficiently ambiguous that it can be read the way you do, but in full context I don't read it that way.

BTW, I enjoy the irony of someone upset that their disagreement is not considered in good faith while being unwilling to extend any good faith to others.
5.30.2007 3:14pm
Wes Johnson:
Hmmp. So instead of doing his job and enforcing the laws of this nation, President Moron is pushing for amnesty for these law-breakers? What a sorry sack of crap.
5.30.2007 3:42pm
Jeremy Pierce (mail) (www):
Speaking of ironies, I love it when someone calls someone else a cretin and then misspells "hear, hear". I don't normally poke at people's grammar and spelling errors, but it's hard to resist when the person doing it is calling other people stupid.
5.30.2007 4:48pm
Justin (mail):
Fine, SG, using the text as a narrative, please explain exactly how


means "I support[] the bill because it is "what's right for America" and not for some other nefarious purpose.

can be interpreted from:

"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."

All I see you doing is taking the contrapositive. But he's not alleging that supporters of the bill want "what's right for America," against allegations of that by critics, but that critics DON'T want to do "what's right for America." And reading it any other way is impossible unless you focus just on the term "what's right for America" and ignore the context, including the in-sentence context.

So yes, bad faith shenanigans on you. Not on Jeremy Pierce, who made a more reasonable point. Just on you.
5.30.2007 6:09pm
Human Resources Rep:
Along with the legal status that it would confer upon those who broke the law, this bill also poses a grave economic threat to middle class Americans, because it would drastically raise the number of H-1B visas granted to foreign professional workers.

As a Human Resources representative, I see first hand how the H-1B visa and employment based green card programs actually work together to drive U.S. citizens in white collar industries from their jobs and even from their careers. To begin with, there is virtually nothing in the law that prevents employers from hiring H-1Bers for open positions even if qualified Americans are available and willing to do the work. Americans are routinely laid off and replaced with lower paid H-1Bers also. In these cases, Americans have practically no legal recourse available under current law.

H-1B is also a dual intent visa, which means an employer may sponsor an H-1Ber for an employment based green card for legal permanent resident status. When a company seeks to sponsor a foreign worker for an EB green card, they are required by law to demonstrate a good faith effort to recruit Americans first. This process is called labor certification. But employers routinely game the labor certification process for green card sponsorship to defraud even well qualified citizen job applicants in favor of low wage foreigners. They use fake job ads and/or bad faith interviews of American citizens to convince the federal government that they tried to find American workers first. These practices are common in high tech and even in some non-tech industries, but HR people are told to keep quiet about it or lose their jobs.

I would be in favor of a program that issues a small number of self-sponsoring green cards for truly innovative foreign nationals on a competitive basis. But very few of the H-1Bers or green card applicants that I have seen in 10+ years even come close to being truly innovative. Most are just practitioners with skills that are actually quite common among the domestic workforce. The only thing special about these foreigners is that they will work for substantially less than Americans in order to have a chance to become legal permanent residents. Thus they are used by management to sweeten corporate balance sheets.

The prevailing wage regulations are supposed to insure that foreign nationals are paid the same as their American counterparts in the same job functions, but these regulations are so riddled with loopholes that they are a bad joke.

Since my work allows me to have access to salary records, I can tell you that the labor cost savings for H-1Bers and green card applicants is substantially greater than the costs of filing the applications with the government.

Citizens should demand that both the H-1B and employment based green card programs be abolished in their current form.
5.30.2007 8:10pm