Rich Lowry Advises Karl Rove
When I talk to people about the sad state of the Bush administration lately, we always ask ourselves, “Well, what can he do now?” … I have come up with (an admittedly thin) seven-point plan of action:
Accept an enforcement-only immigration bill. This is a no-brainer. Bush can say, “Look, I love immigrants and we should welcome them, but the only consensus that exists at the moment is for enforcement. That’s why I’m signing a tough enforcement bill, which will enhance our security at a time we face a dire terrorist threat. But I have also extracted a blood-oath commitment from the GOP leadership in the House and the Senate that a proposal for a guest-worker program and bringing illegals out of shadows will be a priority in the new Congress. Once we have better control of our borders, I am confident we can pass sensible, comprehensive, compassionate legislation on this issue,” etc., etc.
Give some speeches denouncing eminent domain abuse. He can’t do anything about it, of course, but the Republican base will love it and it’s a broadly popular issue, so no one else will be offended.
Talk about the economy as much as possible, and get a new treasury secretary to try to shift the conversation onto this topic (although I don’t think John Snow is in anyway to blame for the administration’s failed PR campaign on this front).
Endorse the Ponnuru tax reform plan. Ramesh can spell it out more, but it basically involves an enormous expansion of the child tax credit. It can’t go anywhere this year, but for a party that desperately needs substantive issues to talk about–and ones that aren’t unpopular–it’s a pretty good place to land for the time being.
Push for the confirmation of his circuit judges that are pending. Talk about them by name. The GOP wins judiciary fights.
Veto a spending bill. It will make him look strong, and the GOP base will love it. It will embarrass the GOP congress, but, hey, they deserve it, and ultimately the congressional GOP gains when Bush gains.
Sit-down with conservative bloggers. They are some of his most loyal supporters-include them in the media out-reach.
I’ll admit that I’m no match to the Evil Genius when it comes to partisan politics, so let me stick to the policy aspects of proposals 1, 3, 4, and 6 (#2 and #7 are just sound bite nonsense). On #3, Lowry is correct – the Treasury Secretary cannot be blamed for the failure PR campaign since he has echoed Karl Rove’s spin whenever possible. The Administration might wish to blame some of its own economic policies – but under Karl Rove, Treasury Secretaries don’t seem to be part of the policy making process. Alas.
#4 seems to be more of the same – pass more deferrals of our tax liabilities, which is pandering at best and fiscally irresponsible at worst. But I just might agree with Lowry on #6 – let’s see some fiscal backbone from the White House for once ESPECIALLY if the veto is designed to reign in the Tom DeLay pork barrel spending machine. Ah, but Karl Rove knows reducing this type of pork might cost the GOP some votes. Never mind.
Which brings us to #1 – which essentially is to give up on what may be George W. Bush’s signature issue. I might disagree with a few of the details of what Bush is proposing to do in regards immigration reform, but at least the compassionate half of “compassionate conservative” seems to be something that predates Bush’s political career even before he was the GOP nominee in 2000. In my view, George W. Bush has precious view principled positions, which is why I find it odd that Lowry began his list by recommending that Bush abandon the only one that seems to be left in his Presidency.
Update: Ryan Lizza also offers some advice to President Bush, which drew the following comment from Kevin Drum:
Well, OK. Except that Bush is fundamentally incompetent and he does govern for the benefit of a handful of Republican special interests. How does one “overcome” one’s very raison d’etre? On the other hand, I like the idea of shipping Bush off to Baghdad for the rest of his term. He could start a blog and report back regularly on all the progress we’re making.
Update II: Rich Lowry follows-up his first partisan proposal with flat out lying about Democrats:
Democrats opposed the ratification of the Central America Free Trade Agreement last year for fear that it would undercut American workers made to compete with cheap Latin American labor … Bizarrely, it is the Democrats who most strongly support a lax immigration system that acts as a subsidy to business interests eager to hire workers at the lowest wages possible and to upper-middle-class Americans who don’t want to pay too much to have someone mow their lawns.
Maybe SOME Democrats opposed CAFTA fearing free trade but THIS Democrat opposed CAFTA precisely because it was not riddled with movements away from free markets. But to suggest that it is the fault of the Democrats in the Senate for Frist’s failure to work with Reid on shoring up the bipartisan compromise is the kind of dishonesty that Rich Lowry excels at. No, the National Review does not care about real reform – it only cares about raw partisan politics.