Logic, con­sis­tency miss­ing from im­mi­gra­tion de­bate

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Tony Blank­ley

Ad­mit­tedly, as Emer­son in­structs, “A fool­ish con­sis­tency is the hob­gob­lin of lit­tle minds, adored by lit­tle states­men and philoso­phers and di­vines.” Still, Wash­ing­ton at the mo­ment seems to be suf­fer­ing from no­tably “large” and “in­con­sis­tent” minds.

There is, of course, the hi­lar­i­ous in­con­sis­tency and large­ness of John Ed­wards charg­ing $50,000 to give a col­lege speech on poverty; specif­i­cally not­ing that we live in two Amer­i­cas, one rich (those who get paid $50,000 for a half-hour speech) and one poor (those who have to take out a long-term loan to pay for their col­lege text­books — and whose col­lege pay­ments paid for Mr. Ed­wards’ $50,000 speak­ing fee).

Also, and now fa­mously, there is Al Gore: the en­ergy-gob­bling, car­bon-emit­ting, en­do­mor­phic car­bon-based life form who morally con­demns all who gob­ble en­ergy and emit car­bon.

Not to be out­done, the last few years have seen rock-ribbed con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­cans call­ing for lim­ited gov­ern­ment and bal­anced bud­gets — while spend­ing the coun­try into bank­ruptcy at the urg­ings of their friendly for­mer staffer/lob­by­ists who fun­neled money to their re-elec­tion cam­paigns.

Well, at least all th­ese in­con­sis­ten­cies are un­der­stand­able as the nat­u­ral prod­uct of the uni- ver­sal hu­man yearn­ing to en­rich one­self and feather one’s nest.

But there are other in­con­sis­ten­cies cur­rently afoot in Wash­ing­ton which are a dis­grace to man’s proud claim to be a rea­son­ing beast. Con­sider the cur­rent ar­gu­ments about the im­mi­gra­tion bill. For oh so long, the sup­port­ers of the bill have been mak­ing two points: 1) It is im­pos­si­ble for the U.S. gov­ern­ment to ac­tu­ally iden­tify and round up all the il­le­gals in the coun­try; and, 2) a fence on the border is bound to be in­ef­fec­tive as well as im­moral. In­deed op­po­nents of the fence have idi­ot­i­cally com­pared it to the Ber­lin Wall — al­though one pro­tects a free coun­try from il­le­gal in­tru­sion while the other kept en­slaved peo­ple from es­cap­ing their slav­ery.

Now, sud­denly, th­ese same peo­ple claim that the same pre­vi­ously nitwit bu­reau­cracy will not only be able to find all 12 mil­lion (or 20 mil­lion) il­le­gals, but will be able to flaw­lessly run back­ground checks, and to pos­i­tively iden­tify each in­di­vid­ual as well as mon­i­tor all Amer­i­can busi- nesses to make sure no new il­le­gals are be­ing hired and the newly le­gal are in per­fect com­pli­ance with their lim­ited sta­tus. Oh yes, and they also will be able to test all 12 mil­lion to as­sure us they can all speak the queen’s English at least as well as does William F. Buck­ley Jr.

Also, sud­denly, they have lost all their moral out­rage about the fence: “You want a morally of­fen­sive fence, no prob­lem, you got a fence. What, me worry about moral con­sis­tency?”

Of course, it has to be pointed out that those of us who have called for strict en­force­ment of ex­ist­ing law are now putting for­ward the ar­gu­ment that the bu­reau­cracy that we used to think could pro­tect the coun­try if only the fed­eral gov­ern­ment would let them do their job, now in­sist that there is no way our fed­eral bu­reau­crats could pos­si­bly en­force the pro­posed new law.

Re­gard­ing the fence, the sup­port­ers of the new im­mi­gra­tion law, are, with the ex­cep­tion of the pres­i­dent and Sen. John Mc- Cain, mostly peo­ple who op­pose the surge in Iraq. Yet, while they re­quire that the Iraqi surge have spe­cific per­for­mance mea­sures to jus­tify con­tin­ued fund­ing (e.g., per­fectly func­tion­ing Iraqi gov­ern­ment, no more vi­o­lence, etc.), they are per­fectly happy to mea­sure the suc­cess of the new pro­posed Mex­i­can border fence by in­puts — rather than re­sults.

That is, once the 5,000 new border agents and the new fences are in place, they will deem the border se­cure, thus trig­ger­ing the Great Amnesty of 2007-08. They would hardly ap­ply that logic to Iraq. If they did, they would have to deem Iraq a suc­cess as soon as the five new surge bat­tal­ions are equipped and de­ployed to Iraq. (Ob­vi­ously, they don’t care whether the border fence works or not — they just want the amnesty — and the vot­ers that fol­low. And they don’t want suc­cess in Iraq, so they will tightly de­fine suc­cess with per­for­mance cri­te­ria that would mea­sure WWII an ut­ter fail­ure.)

We Amer­i­cans fa­mously lack his­tor­i­cal me­mory. This has its ad­van­tages, as we don’t get tied down by his­toric en­mi­ties too well re­mem­bered — but rather we think about how to shape and adapt to the fu­ture. But it would be nice if we could re­mem­ber the ar­gu­ments the politi­cians and com­men­ta­tors made only two weeks ago. Just a lit­tle in­tel­lec­tual ac­count­abil­ity might yield a more con­sid­ered and ra­tio­nal pol­icy-mak­ing process. Silly me.

Tony Blank­ley is edi­to­rial page ed­i­tor of The Wash­ing­ton Times. He can be reached via e-mail at tblank­ley@wash­ing­ton­times.com.

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