April 29, 2010


Bush Was Right: Obama’s predecessor would have passed immigration reform if not for 9/11. He was correct to shift focus then—and Obama shouldn’t let the Arizona debacle force him to push for a new law during an election year. (Mark McKinnon, 4/28/10, Daily Beast)

About a decade ago, discussion about immigration reform was focused on making U.S law friendlier, or at the very least, reasonable for Mexican immigrants. And the message was carried by unlikely champions such as George W. Bush, who as governor of Texas saw up close the strong work ethic, deep patriotism, strong faith, and enormous contribution Mexican immigrants make to our country. It was that kind of compassionate conservatism that drew independents and Democrats like me to support Gov. Bush.

I remember during the 2000 presidential campaign when some in the GOP counseled President Bush to stay away from immigration reform, worried that he would be viewed as too soft and immigrant-friendly on the subject, creating a political liability. Bush ignored the advice. And not long after he was elected, he pushed the issue to the front burner of his agenda.

If not for the attacks of 9/11, immigration reform would very likely have passed in late 2001 or 2002. President Bush and President Vicente Fox of Mexico were working very closely on the issue until that horrible event reshaped American policy on so many fronts, including immigration.

Between the partisan animus whipped up by Gore v. Bush and the Iraq War it's remarkable that he was effective for as long as he was. But then the Right turned on him--Dubai ports, immigration, Harriet Miers, Iraq--and like most two term presidents he stalled out. That is why, of course, the great successes of his second term were on matters where a president doesn't much need Congress or his party, foreign policy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 29, 2010 5:20 AM
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