Monday Night Political Football II

In contemplation of the president’s scheduled address on immigration tonight, I’ve noticed some people across the blogosphere and in the media questioning who, exactly, is going to be mollified by Bush’s speech (no less the border posturing) aside from perhaps some extremist elements of his base—and even the likes of Xenophobe: Warrior Princess (otherwise known as Michelle Malkin) are declaring “too little too late,” to give you some idea of how poorly all this bullshit is playing even with those folks.

I can’t imagine how this was ever identified as a conceivably successful wedge issue for the GOP. The conservative Christians are up in arms because their pet causes—“same-sex marriage, obscenity, and abortion”—are being given short shrift. As for the part of the base who do have a vested interest in immigration, there are two camps who can’t possibly be mutually satisfied. Bush can never go far enough to satisfy the Build-a-Wall Brigade without looking like an utter lunatic and losing forever any moderate Republicans. And just about any reform at all will go too far for the comfort of the corporatists, who would be happy as pigs in shit if the GOP would please stop paying attention to this issue and threatening the highly exploitable and cheap workforce on which many of them are dependent.

Bush’s success was his ability to marry the social conservatives, the corporatists, and the neocon warmongers in one big happy polygamist lovefest. And now that rocky relationship looks to be his undoing, because all the (unfulfilled) promises in the world can’t overcome the unavoidable reality that the interests of these groups are often at fundamental odds with one another. There’s no solution to illegal immigration that will satisfy the Minutemen and the corporatists dependent on undocumented workers for their bottom line.

As far as I can tell, the best outcome for which Bush can hope with this speech tonight is to delay the inevitable revolt of at least one part of his base until after midterms. I’m sure he’s betting on the possibility of garnering more support from moderates if he can cast the issue more firmly as a national security issue, but that’s got to have some kind of scary long odds at this point—and any success there would be dependent on alienating the two extremes mentioned above.

I honestly don’t know what he’s realistically hoping to accomplish, but I can’t believe he’ll have much success, whatever it is. I would hate to be wrongly optimistic about his potential for utter failure, but I really don’t see a way out of this one for the old duffer.

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