I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Conservatives debate Bush impeachment over immigration

A very spirited and provocative debate took place among right-wing bloggers over the past week. The question under consideration: Should George W. Bush be impeached for his failure to stop the "Mexican invasion" and protect our nation's borders?

Several prominent conservative bloggers argued vehemently in favor of Bush's impeachment. Leading the charge was LaShawn Barber, who actually drafted articles of impeachment and supported them with this argument:

I believe George Bush’s failure to enforce immigration law and stop the foreign invasion, which he has the power and authority to do, warrants impeachment. Because of Bush, illegal invaders are emboldened, demanding that which they have no legal right to obtain.

While the invasion has caused incalculable physical and economic harm to legal citizens, the president proposes to offer amnesty and allow the harm to continue. To the detriment of those he swore to protect, Bush chooses instead to protect those he has no duty to protect. His actions are in violation of the Constitution.

Misha of Anti-Idotarian Rottweiler joined Barber's call. Inspired by the Malkian outrage de jour -- "Sara Carter, a reporter with the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, reports today that she found documentation on Mexican government websites that show higher ups in the United States Border Patrol have been tipping off the corrupt Mexican government as to the locations of the Minutemen along the border" -- he argued:

Bushito’s Border Patrol, protecting the rights of illegal border crossers in, er, Illinois?

If Bullshito knew about this, or if he doesn’t do something about it now that he does, and does it yesterday, there can only be one logical conclusion to this undermining of the sovereignty of the United States, undermining of the Constitution and providing intelligence to a foreign government:


Let’s give him a day or two to explain himself and stop it, NOT a few weeks or months, and then, if he fails to do so, let the hearings begin.

Go for it, Democrats, you have my full and unreserved support.

The anger on the Right over Bush's limp and fearful approach to the immigration problem is so severe that they are even comparing President Bush to Bill Clinton and referring to the Commander-in-Chief with a highly mocking tone:

I can pretty much sum up what El Presidente is going to say in his Monday address. He’s said it all before:

I oppose amnesty, placing undocumented workers on the automatic path to citizenship.

Notice that Clintonian weasel word, “automatic.” Notice his unique definition of “amnesty.” “Undocumented workers” (or “illegal aliens” as they should properly be called) will not get “automatic” citizenship; therefore they’re not getting amnesty.

Things have become so tense over on the Right that I even learned on Michelle Malkin's blog that there is apparently a large group of people who will support George Bush no matter what, due to excess loyalty. Thus, Michelle has been railing against what she calls "blind Bush supporters."

The President's speech tonight on immigration obviously has an exclusively political purpose, intended to highlight border enforcement efforts more than he usually does in order to appease his smoldering volcanic base. Bush is desperate to at least stem the tide of defectors who have long been most loyal to him but have decided that immigration is now the most pressing issue, and that Bush is too weak and fearful to do what has to be done. But Bush is very limited in his maneuverability. He long ago sold his soul on immigration issues to the Wall St. Journal/big business desire for more-or-less open borders and cheap immigrant labor, and the symbolic measures he plans to unveil tonight don't appear to have any remote chance of satisfying the targets of his offerings.

Barber, for instance, has already rejected the speech as a woefully inadequate symbolic measure designed only to appease immigration opponents. She's having none of it:

Bush’s boy Vicente Fox, all frantic about our country’s alleged plan (and right) to guard its own borders, called Bush, who assured him the border beef up is only temporary and will not be a “militarization.” What a thoughtful man, our president.

I predict that his speechwriters will insult our intelligence and present unsustainable and bad argumentation supporting amnesty for border jumpers, including the strawman “We are a nation of immigrants!” and the claim that deporting millions of illegal criminals is impractical. He’ll toss us a half-chewed border enforcement bone to throw us off the trail.

I’m not that hungry. Are you?

It doesn't appear that Michelle Malkin is going to be calmed by this speech either. I'd say the opposite seems true -- from her post today entitled "Too Little, Too Late" (links omitted):

Here we go again.

President Bush is continuing the homeland security dog-and-pony charade in his quest to deliver a massive "guest worker" plan to the open-borders lobby. A few weeks ago, Bush's Department of Homeland Security put on a bogus performance of Get Tough Theater with a series of politically timed immigration raids...which, as I predicted, simply resulted in more catch and release of illegal aliens nationwide.

This new last-minute stunt to sprinkle National Guard troops on the border--temporarily of course, to appease Mexican President Vicente Fox--is more transparent than the Scotch tape used to hold together our dilapidated border fences. (That's only a slight exaggeration).

For all the new tough talk, these additional troops will be barred from actually doing what needs to be done: guarding the border. President Bush is already bowing and scraping to Mexico over the plan before he's even officially announced it.

Many on the Right have decided that Immigration is now the paramount issue that must be dealt with, and their differences with Bush on this issue, which they have long suppressed, are now exploding into the open, which is only exacerbating the president's severe political difficulties. Nothing in particular has happened on the immigration front, leading to the question of why has this issue taken on such critical importance now?

I think a lot of the Malkin types have become bored with the whole "War on Terror" business, which provided them good, strong emotional sustenance for the last four years. But September 11 is now almost five years away. There have been no good "battles" for a long time; we don't even pretend to capture or kill any high-ranking Al Qaeda members any more; and while invocations of "war" will always be good for some blood-rushing excitement, the whole thing seems so distant and abstract at this point. It's just not enough any more.

They're also clearly tired of slogging through the political and ethnic complexities of Iraq. That country just doesn't lend itself to any morally clear good/evil dichotomies. There are no good cartoon villains to hate. Calls for increased "ferocity," less "sensitive" approaches ("bomb some more mosques!"), and less discriminate bombings can generate some temporary enthusiasm -- as it did for a day or so with Shelby Steele's column -- but Iraq is so muddled and ambiguous, and not all that emotionally satisfying. It's pretty depressing, actually, to think about how everything they said would happen there is not happening, and trying to figure out solutions, ways out, is just not very invigorating stuff for those who thrive on Hating and Warring Against Evil.

As a result, attention gets turned to immigration -- Mexican immigration specifically. It entails the opportunity to rail against "appeasement" (of Vincente Fox); to create the anti-terrorist/pro-terrorist dichotomy on which they thrive; and to demonize a clear, foreign enemy as threatening not just our economic prosperity but also our national security (the "Mexican invaders"). And if the weakened, ready-to-be-tossed aside failure, George Bush, is one of the spineless appeasers this time, so be it.

This is a major, major political problem for the White House. The measures which Bush's base demands, the ones necessary to really satisfy them -- a huge wall and active deportation -- are far too extreme for Bush to embrace. And yet they aren't going to be satisfied without extreme measures. The media loves to talk about how Democrats are being harmed because "the Left" of the party is dragging it towards policies which are too extreme, but the reality is that dynamic is taking place within, and is threatening to drown, the Republican Party. Bush has very few supporters left. The few he has left are demanding that he adopt immigration positions which he clearly opposes and which would alienate most people in the country. And he is far too weak to satisfy them with symbolic measures.

They are actually debating his impeachment over this issue. What is a 29% President to do?

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