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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The only Nonpartisan Wedge Issue

(Keywords: , , , , this egg just won't crack)

The arguing begins. A problem with illegal immigration is that opinions don't divide along partisan lines. It puts Bush in agreement with Ted Kennedy and in disagreement with many in his own party. A lot of democrats think that Bush's ideas don't go far enough, while some republicans think it goes too far.

Telling is the fact that an extremely hardassed bill to strengthen border security failed in the senate in a lopsided 55-40 vote. According to Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate rejected a call Tuesday to secure the nation's borders before tackling other immigration-related concerns such as citizenship for millions of men and women in the country illegally, a victory for President Bush and supporters of a comprehensive approach to a volatile election-year issue.

The vote was 55-40 against a proposal by Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga, who said that anything less than a border security-first approach amounted to "a wink and a nod one more time to those who would come here" unlawfully.

Republican and Democratic supporters of the sweeping Senate bill said Isakson's approach would be self-defeating and derail the approach that Bush backed in Monday night's prime time speech from the Oval Office. "We have to have a comprehensive approach if we're going to gain control of the borders," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

This is a bizarre issue where party is meaningless. If the right wanted to use this as a wedge issue (and I believe that's the case), they've failed miserably. If this is the issue that some will vote on, there's no guarantee that they'll vote for the candidate of either party.

I talk to lefties who think we ought to round them all up and send them home and righties who think that's impractical. As wedge issues go, this is a pretty bad one. As political theater, it may blow up in Bush's face.

His call to send six thousand National Guard troops to the border is pointless. The Posse Comitatus Act bars using the military for policing. They'll have no power to apprehend and arrest. All they'll be able to do is report sightings of crossings to an already stretched border patrol. It's a classic example of appearing to do something, while doing absolutely nothing.

It's predicted that this hurricane season will be as bad as the last. Ignoring the lessons of Katrina and New Orleans, Bush is sending the guard on a fool's errand, when they may well be needed elsewhere.