Friendly fire
Posted by aogWednesday, 30 May 2007 at 20:13 TrackBack Ping URL

I saw this comment a while ago and have been meaning to write about it. The key quote is

But do they [the Bush administration] ever bother defend anything they do? No. They try to do it in secret and hope nobody notices. When they caught, they act guiltier than a teenager with beer on his breath.

The lack of use of the bully pulpit by the Bush administration has been a topic of discussion for years. But why is that? One theory is that President Bush sets the tone and he doesn’t like engage in incivility, even if it it’s true. So he doesn’t call out Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi when she sells out American interests for the joy of hanging out with petty dictator Assad of Syria.

Yet this post about Bush’s comments on the illegal immigrant amnesty bill reminded me that Bush is capable of some quite nasty rhetoric. That leaves me wondering why Bush is so unwilling to say that kind of thing about people who really deserve it. It seems to be only conservatives who oppose him that brings out the real beast in Bush. If I had one question I could ask him, it would be why he can’t get this worked up when he’s opposed and undermined by someone other than American conservatives.

UPDATE: More from Hot Air.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
Andrea Harris Wednesday, 30 May 2007 at 21:40

I think that whenever he is about to dress down a Democrat they give him the Sad Puppy eyes. You know they’ve got the guilt thing down; you know that Peloso starts whimpering about her grandkiddies the minute he gets testy with her. And he’s got a weakness for soppiness (all that “compassionate conservative” BS, etc.). So the Dems can get to him by turning on the pity works.

Real conservatives, on the other hand, have no problem with being complete bastards. Bush isn’t really conservative, just nicey-nice, so real conservatives irritate him. Also, we can take it, so he has no qualms about dishing it out.

Well, at least we aren’t soppy.

cjm Thursday, 31 May 2007 at 13:48

has bush been a net loss to the GOP, as Clinton was/is for the Dems ?

I say “yes”

erp Saturday, 09 June 2007 at 12:40

I have this discussion daily, almost hourly, with my roomie. “He’s had it with Bush” is becoming a mantra and it’s becoming darned annoying.

Bush is being damned in the media for saying this and that, but how do we really know what he’s actually said and in what context? Certainly not from those whose dearest desire is to publicly humiliate and discredit him.

What we do know is that he means what he says and he’s said that one can do a lot if one doesn’t care who gets the credit or the blame. We also know is that he’s come out on top an amazing amount times, especially given that the known world, per the media, is lined up against him.

What we also know as fact is that Canada, Germany and France have moved away from socialism and China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil are poised on the brink. I hesitate to characterize these moves as rightward or conservative as those words are flash points I don’t care to defend.

The lunatic left is in retreat and has no credibility and the marginally less loony left is on life-support. For goodness sake a top UN official has been indicted! Did you ever think you’d live to see that day dawn? I certainly never did.

The Immigration Bill is something to keep the kids busy and off the streets during summer vacation. As long as it’s long and obtuse, what difference does it make what it says. It hasn’t a snowballs chance in h*ll of passing . . . so

please cut the president some slack.

Annoying Old Guy Saturday, 09 June 2007 at 18:51


I have listened to audio clips, and unless they’re faking that too it seems that President Bush did in fact say such things and it was reported in roughly the correct context. The same applies to much of the trash talk from Bush’s direct supports.

I agree that we should cut Bush some slack and judge him on his entire record, but there has to be a limit to everything. There’s a balance, where you don’t want to go around purging minor differences but you also don’t want to end up with the ideological or personality lock that bedevils the MAL (which, for instance, is still stuck with Ted Kennedy).

And the question remains — why can’t Bush unload like this against his political enemies? It’s puzzling to me.

cjm Saturday, 09 June 2007 at 21:03

cut him some slack ?! the guy is a fumbler, just like his old man. go ahead and like him if you want to, but he has genuinely been a very bad president. i rate him far worse than clinton, down around carter territory. he doesn’t lead and he doesn’t serve, he just takes up oxygen. for every ok thing he’s done, i can name 5 bad things. he reminds me of a bourbon king.

erp Saturday, 09 June 2007 at 21:38

okay cjm name them. I can understand why jibes by your supposed friends would provoke more anger than jibes from the other side of the aisle from whom nothing better is expected. I like Bush, but I don’t think he’s perfect and I would like to know what he’s done for you to put him in Carter territory.

Don’t forget how he was stabbed in the back by Colin Powell, darling of the left.

I wish he had forcefully backed Bolton, Wolfowitz, Harriet Myers, Delay, etc. and removed Specter and some of the other weak sister committee chairmen. Why he left them in place to embarrass him and impede his initiatives? I wish I knew.

Iraq is a mess mostly because terrorists are waiting for the dems to get back in.

Clinton was a better president????

Annoying Old Guy Saturday, 09 June 2007 at 22:46


It’s not so much that jabs, but that Bush doesn’t throw jabs like that at his actual political enemies. If he were just a rough guy, I would take it in stride. But he seems far more willing to be civil and cooperative with the Democratic Caucus than the GOP one. For instance, a while back the Democratic Congress critters did something really obnoxious and Tony Snow said that Bush wasn’t going to get nasty because “we have to work with those guys”. But that apparently doesn’t apply to GOP members of Congress.

I have to disagree with cjm — even with all of this, I still prefer Bush to Clinton.

cjm Sunday, 10 June 2007 at 10:16

maybe i was stating the case too strongly, to say clinton was better than bush, but bush (imo) is c ausing severe damage to the country, and is a genuinely bad president. most of the time it feels like there is no president at all. i strongly suspect that bush suffers from depression, and is incapacitated much of the time.

if iran goes nuclear, bush will have proven himself a worse president than clinton and carter.

erp Sunday, 10 June 2007 at 13:24

cjm, I think you’re upset because you can’t see behind the scenes and want things to see things up front with Bush issuing manifestos and having his praises sung in the media and the UN, etc.

Ain’t gonna happen. I don’t think he’s depressed, but I do think he’s learned as we all would if we were in his shoes, politics is the art of the possible. Nothing gained by teeth gnashing.

If you want to really worry, worry about the next president because none of the above won’t work. We have to get behind the candidate no matter the flaws.

I’m reading the Sienkiewicz Trilogy and I think much of the reason I’m liking it so much (other than the excellent writing and fascinating subject), is in those days, there was no pussy-footing around. Leaders led, soldiers fought to win, traitors were hung and every man’s word was inviolate.

Sounds pretty good to me.

cjm Sunday, 10 June 2007 at 17:47

i have to worry about the next president because bush is doing so much to ensure it’s a democrat — and also doing quite a bit of work to ensure sizeable democratic majorities in both houses of congress. i don’t want to see his praises sung in the msm, i want to see him challenging their material support for our enemies. he might make a decent backwater pastor, but there is no room for that kind of mush headed do-gooderism in the white house.

erp, you and i just see the situation differently and that’s ok :) if he takes down the iranian nuclear programme and doesn’t succeed in destroying the concept of citizenship here, then i will revise my opinion of him. until then, he is just a floundering dunce, in way over his head.

(bush likes to give the impression that there are secret operations going on, but somehow they never seem to actually bear fruit or reveal themselves)

erp Sunday, 10 June 2007 at 18:01

I’m confused. He’s won all the battles and made the dems look like the dim bulbs they are.

Annoying Old Guy Sunday, 10 June 2007 at 18:21

You mean like his immigration “reform” and the Harriet Meiers nomination? Maintaining support for the occupation of Iraq? Privatizing Social Security? The GOP majority in the House? The GOP majority in the Senate? What looks like further Democratic Party gains in both houses in 2008?

I certainly don’t agree that Bush’s terms have been unending disasters, but there’s a lot of failures to contrast with the successes.

David Cohen Sunday, 10 June 2007 at 20:02

“destroying the concept of citizenship”

I would love to hear what that could possibly mean.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 11 June 2007 at 08:13

Mr. Cohen;

Look here as a starting point.

cjm Monday, 11 June 2007 at 09:07

aog, don’t bother with cohen’s pretend questions. he isn’t an honest actor here; his pretend obtuseness is a cliched lawyer’s trick.

David Cohen Monday, 11 June 2007 at 10:07

What did lawyers ever do to you?

As for citizenship, I’ll just take it as a given that you were spouting off.

AOG: I still don’t get it. The President is destroying the concept of citizenship because Harry Reid uses the stupid, politically correct phrase “undocumented Americans?” It was probably a slip of the tongue, but it doesn’t mean anything. It’s like when Americans refer to foreign blacks as “African Americans.” We use euphemisms so much that, in our brains, they start to directly substitute for what we really mean. My expectation is that most immigrants won’t bother to get naturalized (especially since the bill makes it somewhat more difficult for them to become naturalized than legal entrants, since they have to pay for the privilege), but so what? One of the mistakes of the (I’m not sure what your side wants to be called) anti-open borders crowd is to focus obsessionally on the immigrant generation when what we really want are the kids. Even if Reid stupidly betrayed the Democrat’s secret agend, you’ve got to at least be open to the possibility that the President is using Harry Reid, rather than the other way round.

After reading the Steyn article, I googled the term “fast track to citizenship,” but didn’t find anything explaining how the immigration bill was a fast track. What you mostly get is descriptions of military service as a fast track to citizenship. I assume that no one thinks that this is a loophole that destroys the concept of citizenship as we know it. There is this article, which doesn’t explain much, but leads me to conclude that any conversion of illegal aliens to regularized status (amnesty, if you want) is a fast track to citizenship because it doesn’t make them leave, apply through normal channels and then come back in to start the naturalization process. I’m not aware, though, of anything in the bill that changes the requirement for naturalization (although Constitutionally, Congress can make naturalization whatever it wants) or which could rationally be described as destroying citizenship. cjm’s skepticism to one side, I really am asking.

For what it’s worth, our current concept of citizenship is relatively recent. Until the Civil War amendments, the Constitution wasn’t really concerned with “citizens,” although it does seem to assume that people born in the United States are citizens and it gives Congress the power to set rules for naturalization. The strong relationship between citizenship and the franchise is very new, and until the 1920s non-citizen residents were more often than not, depending upon state law, allowed to vote. The change, in the 20s, was expressly xenophobic, as was the contemporaneous shutting-off of immigration.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 11 June 2007 at 10:29

Mr. Cohen;

It’s not my claim. I was simply pointing out, as a polite weblog host, a writer who used it, with whom you were familiar, and AFAIK of whom you have a favorable opinion. Moreover, your question didn’t involve the President, only the meaning of the phrase.

In response to your “really asking”, the phrase in question has nothing to do with the current immigration “reform” legislation, so there’s no use looking there for answers. It is, rather, about the destruction of the current American concept of citizenship. In that, you answer your own question — if our current concept of citizenship is relatively recent and distinct from that in the early days of the nation, then clearly a reversion to that early concept would destroy the current one. It sounds to me that, far from incomprehension, you are in fact in agreement with cjm and Steyn on this point. You simply assign it a different utility value.

David Cohen Monday, 11 June 2007 at 10:51

No, not at all. No one, as far as I know, is suggesting that we return to the antebellum conception of citizenship and no one other than some fringe lefties is suggesting that we let non-citizens vote. More people are trying to destroy our conception of citizenship by trying to find a way around the 14th Amendment’s provision that anyone born here is a citizen. I’m strongly in favor of our current conception of citizenship and strongly opposed to weakening this provision of the 14th Amendment.

cjm’s statement was that “if he [GWB] … doesn’t succeed in destroying the concept of citizenship here, then i [sic] will revise my opinion of him.” I still don’t know what that means.

David Cohen Monday, 11 June 2007 at 10:58

To be more explicit: Harry Reid used the phrase “immigrant Americans.” Steyn riffs on this using the conceit that “Americans” necessarily means “American citizens” and that Reid actually intends that all illegal aliens be converted, at once and en masse, into citizens. I assume that Steyn is joking. If Reid actually intended that, I agree that it would destroy “citizenship” and I would be opposed. But it’s not what the bill would do and no one (as far as I know) has actually proposed that. So, for cjm, my question is how has George Bush tried to destroy the concept of citizenship” because I absolutely deny that he has done any such thing. For AOG, my question is whether you believe that success by the pro-immigration forces would destroy our concept of citizenship and, if so, how?

David Cohen Monday, 11 June 2007 at 11:00

Sorry. Not “immigrant Americans” but “undocumented Americans.” Make of that Freudian slip what you will.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 11 June 2007 at 15:02

Mr. Cohen;

Depends on your definition of “success”, but the “destroy our concept of citizenship” is not something I have claimed so I haven’t thought enough about that point to provide an answer I am willing to defend.

To practice my rhetorical skills, I would start with noting that I do not think Steyn is joking. It appears to me that is exactly what cjm believes, that mass citizenship for all current illegal immigrants is the goal of Reid and particularly Bush. I suspect that’s the answer to your question to cjm. In terms of evidence, what could the term “American” in Reid’s statement mean other than de facto citizen?

In terms of the current legislation, how are the provisional visas not very close to exactly that sort of amnesty? Given the time limits, very little if any documentation will be checked, there won’t be any follow up checks, and the documentation that is acceptable is forgable by literate person. Not to mention that it would put all of them on the road to citizenship. It’s not citizenship, but it’s darn close.

As for others proposing such mass citizenship, it’s the position of many immigrant advocacy groups, including ones that contributed to the writing of the current legislation. If opponents should be wary of who they’re allying with, shouldn’t proponents do the same? What does it mean for you if your policies are consistent with those who, in your own words, aim to “destroy citizenship”? Oh, and certainly OJ has proposed precisely such mass, instant citizenship. Two final words: “Ted Kennedy”.

P.S. Consider this position of the ACLU — to use your terminology and logic, that is objectively encouraging and enabling voting by illegal immigrants. Is the ACLU “fringe lefties”?

David Cohen Monday, 11 June 2007 at 17:11

I still haven’t seen anyone suggest that all illegal aliens should simply be given citizenship. If La Raza or some other group has made that suggestion, I’d appreciate a cite. In any event, I’m absolutely, 100% certain that Congress would never pass it. This is what I mean about the paranoia of the opponents; it is very much like the rumors that Bush wanted to bring back the draft that circulated before the 04 election. In fact, the draft rumors were more credible because, there, at least the idea had been introduced in Congress.

The ACLU and its ilk oppose voter ID for purely partisan reasons. But I don’t see how the bill makes it any more likely that non-citizens are going to vote.

As for Reid, I just think that he had a subroutine that pops up whenever he’s dealing with minorities. Just like people call foreign blacks “African American” because “black” has been string replaced by “African American,” Reid just uses the [blank] American phrase when he’s being careful not to offend some minority group.

Earlier, I wrote and then didn’t post a long comment over at Daily Duck about the Z Visa 24 check. Having worked it through, I think it’s too much to get into, but the procedure is not as stupid as it sounds. The telegraphic version is that, if you’re going to have a regularization/amnesty that is not simply dependent upon status, you’ve got to have something like the probationary visa and, if you’re not going to just hand out the probationary visa to everyone who asks, you’ve got to have a short period for a cursory check, so something like this is inevitable once you’ve decided to regularize that status of illegal aliens. The important question is still regularization v. non-regularization, not whether that particular procedure makes sense.

But you raise a good question: what is it about citizenship that makes us more sparing of it than a mere right to reside here. The right to vote? The right to welfare? The right to reenter the country? The psychic income from belonging? Or do you think that the right to immigrate ought to be as difficult to obtain as citizenship?

cjm Monday, 11 June 2007 at 20:09

aog gets it in one. it’s interesting how stocks and citizenship have similar properties. i belive the gilded age robber barrons were fond of diluting the shares of a company they ran, for similar reasons.

David Cohen Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 06:44

I don’t particularly like the metaphor, but when a corporation is out hiring, the shareholders might object to the expense but they don’t worry that it is diluting their ownership.

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 07:25

Mr. Cohen;

I can’t find any reputable claims for immediate citizenship, but if you want cites for “simply given citizenship”, just netsearch on “path to citizenship”. As far as I can tell the only difference is having a waiting period, but basically any current illegal immigrant would be “simply given citizenship” after some period of time. If all that’s under debate is the length of time, we already know what it is, we’re just haggling over the price.

It appears to me that for the Z-visa, it will be the case that it’s a de facto permanent visa to be handed out to everyone who asks. I find it quite reasonable to take the view that the short period (24 hours) for a cursory check is far too short to be meaningful and that no further checks will ever be done.

The important question is still regularization v. non-regularization, not whether that particular procedure makes sense.

Ah, a variant of the “fake but accurate” meme in policy form. Whether the particular procedure makes sense is just as important, because a nonsensical procedure in effect determines the answer to what you label the “important question”. This is a root of much of the opposition, that many see such policy issues being resolved by bureaucratic machinations rather than being honestly debated or implemented (the border wall passed last year is the archetypical example).

The ACLU and its ilk oppose voter ID for purely partisan reasons. But I don’t see how the bill makes it any more likely that non-citizens are going to vote.

I didn’t make that claim about this legislation, only that the ACLU position was de facto in support of allowing illegal immigrants to vote by opposing reasonable checks against voter fraud. I also tried to remove the issue of motive by using your “objectively” framing, but apparently that doesn’t apply to everyone.

The citizenship vs. resident issue is too big to get in to in the comments.

cjm Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 09:08

some leftist run cities are moving to let non-citizens vote. their motives and agenda are transparent.

David Cohen Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 22:20

I agree, and they should be forbidden from doing so.

AOG: Your position is, in effect, that you misunderstand the bill, you don’t care that you misunderstand it, and you refuse to believe any provision in the bill meant to ameliorate the parts you don’t like. You’ve taken your position and now you just have your fingers stuck in your ears, going “na na na, can’t hear you.” That is bizarre behavior from you, which you haven’t even come close to explaining.

The government is trying to decide what to do with illegal aliens. The choices are deport them, make life more difficult for them, ignore them or find some way to regularize their status (i.e., to make them legal residents). If you can think of a fourth alternative, I’m all ears.

The political will does not exist, in either the country or the Congress, for mass deportations. If you think that deportation is a possibility, let me know, but otherwise I’m going to ignore it. So, we’re left with making life more difficult, simply allowing the status quo to continue or regularizing their status. Making life more difficult basically means two things: stop government support and crack down on employers. I’ve long since explained why I’m not in favor of stopping government support. First, the main support received by illegal aliens in education. It would be, in my opinion, inordinately stupid for us not to provide educations. Second, as I’ve said before, if California or any other state chooses to provide welfare to illegals, why should I second guess that political judgment? People who want us to cracking down on employers are simply ignoring economic reality. This is a version of the lump of labor fallacy: there are so many jobs and if the illegal aliens were knocked out we would be able to give those jobs to Americans at better wages (i.e., wages sufficient to attract Americans). But if jobs cost more, there will be fewer of them. There will be fewer products bought and, thus, fewer products made. The most likely result will be to increase the export of jobs to China and other low cost nations. Also, price increases will eat away at the whatever increased wages there are. This will decrease productivity at a time in which increased productivity is particularly important to the nation.

Also, alienating, impoverishing and then punishing a large resident alien population just strikes me as a bad idea. Also, as you’ve said many times, you don’t believe that the government will actually increase border security (going so far as to claim, based on no logic you want to share, that the increased money and enforcement contained in the bill will reduce border security), so I assume you wouldn’t believe that the government will actually crack down on employers and thus that possibility is off the table.

That leaves us with inaction and the status quo, on one hand, and regularization, on the other. Since I like immigration, that inclines me to support inaction. The 340,000, give or take, to be allowed in as guest workers is just too small and I think that the promised enforcement will cut into illegal immigration somewhat, driving us under the 1 million new arrivals that I think are the bare minimum we are morally and economically obliged to take. (Feel free to take a swing at that “economically” but you’ll be just like the liberal who is all in favor of US military action, just so long as there’s no tangible benefit in it for the US.) On the other hand, I would like real border security and there are benefits to regularization, including fairness to the illegal immigrants, to I’m willing to look at regularization. In any event, this really is the choice we have here: regularization or the status quo.

But it takes a plan to beat a plan, and so the government has to tell us what regularization involves. Well, first, it involves identifying the illegal aliens who want to participate. Saying “tell us who you are, but once you do you’re not protected from enforcement of the immigration laws” just doesn’t work. No one would volunteer for regularization. That’s why, if you’re going to have regularization at all, you will necessarily have to assure applicants that they will not thereafter be subject to deportation so long as they behave themselves. Otherwise you get no applicants, so it’s just like not having regularization at all. (Imagine if your employer said, “we’re offering an early retirement program, so please let us know if your interested. By the way, applicants for early retirement are still subject to layoffs if we conclude that they are not committed to staying with the company.” No one would apply.)

The government could just say, “apply for this program and any applicant will be protected from the enforcement of the immigration law while his application is pending.” Instead, they’ve said, “apply for this program, and we’ll take 24 hours to check out whether you’ve got any obvious disqualifications before we give you probationary status.” The 24 hour check, in other words, was meant to reassure critics that we wouldn’t just be handing out probationary status willy-nilly. The government then can take as long as it needs to finish the process and make the probationary Z Visa status permanent. Here’s how the White House explains it:
Obtaining Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status is a multi-step process that includes thorough background checks with no guarantees. It can be broken down into three parts: probationary period, Z status, and LPR.

1. Probationary Period. The undocumented worker comes out of the shadows to acknowledge they have broken the law. In order to obtain probationary status, they must show they are employed and pass a preliminary background check. There is a provision in the bill that says DHS has one day to find a “disqualifying factor,” but that is not the end of the process. That is a very short term way of ensuring that if someone comes out of the shadows and admits their illegality, they will not be deported while the process is ongoing and can continue working while the full background check is completed. At any time if something pops up, the applicant becomes deportable, and will never have a chance at Z status and certainly not LPR status.

2. Z Status. If they have passed the hurdles above, the undocumented worker is considered for Z status. At this stage they must pay their $1,000 fine ($1,000 is just for a head of household – there is an additional fine of $500 for each dependent) and processing fees; are subject to updated background checks to make sure they have not committed crimes while in probationary status; agree to meet English and civics standards as a condition of renewal; and show employment. There is no one day “Treatment of applications” in this process. One must complete or agree to all of the above before they are able to achieve Z status.

3. LPR Status. Here, there is another $4,000 fine and more processing fees. More background checks are also conducted in order to make sure that the applicant has kept his or her record clean. The applicant will have had to have stayed employed and met the English and civics requirements. They will have to make an application from their home country, go to the back of the line, and demonstrate merit under the new green card points system. Then, and only then, will the undocumented worker obtain a green card.
So, as I said before, if we’re going to have regularization, we need some process like this and the 24 hour check is meant to be a sop to critics who don’t want applicants who are obviously not qualified to have even limited security from enforcement of the immigration laws. What happened after the bill was passed was that critics went through the bill to find provisions that they could wrestle out of context and misrepresent in order to wind up the oppositon to the bill.

Which brings us to citizenship. First, cjm’s “shareholder” metaphor just doesn’t work. My citizenship is not diluted because other people become citizens. What matters is whether the new citizens are really Americans. Here, there’s no reason to think that they won’t be. There is no automatic citizenship as a result of the regularization. The only benefit the illegal aliens get (if they’ve been here for 5 years or more) is that they don’t have to go back to their home country and come back in legally in order to be citizens. They do not, however, get any credit for the time they’ve already spend, they have to learn English and they have to pass the same test as all other naturalized citizens have to pass, plus they have to pay additional penalties beyond what legal immigrants have to pay. My guess is that few will bother. I understand that you have convinced yourself that they will just forge the documents, but that still doesn’t put them on an automatic path to citizenship. They still have to spend the time in the US, employed, after receiving LPR status and they still have to pass the test. So, while it may be in some metaphysical sense unfair to other naturalized citizens, although I have trouble seeing that it is, from the point of view of current citizens, the former illegal alien citizen will have proven himself just as fit (spent the time, took the test) as any other naturalized citizen.

Tracked from Low Earth Orbit: Love the enemy, but hate the friend on 04 June 2007 at 11:19

Bush is strong and resolute only when fighting his allies.

Tracked from Thought Mesh: Ideological purity on 04 June 2007 at 11:39

I put "a quick comment elsewhere": about the travesty of "letting Sandy Berger get away with destroying national archive documents":

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