Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean yesterday called border security his party's top immigration priority for November. "The first thing we want is tough border control," he said. "We have to do a much better job on our borders than George Bush has done. And then we can go to the policy disagreements about how to get it done." Republicans reacted with surprise to Mr. Dean's announcement, which puts the DNC chief's views at odds with those of many Democrats in Congress. "If Dean means what he says about border enforcement, that would put the Democrats somewhere to the right of President Bush on immigration," said Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican.
Why? Here's a clue from conservative blogger Latino Issues, reacting to the arrest of IFCO Systems managers for employing illegal aliens.
It sounds like they are feeling the heat from the voters--you know, those citizens that came to this country legally, or are born here. Again, mass rallies are going to have the opposite intended effect as far as policy makers are concerned. The left-wing Latino organizations have made a mistake by inciting these rallies, as far as they are concerned, but I guess you can say they did us all a favor. They brought attention to the issue.
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't. FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog notes that what Howard Dean actually said was:
Mr. Dean said he wants “immigrants who obey the law and pay taxes to be able to apply for citizenship. We support earned legalization vigorously. And, much to my surprise, so do the American people.” “We don’t like guest-worker programs,” said Mr. Dean, a candidate for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. “I don’t like guest-worker programs. I think the president’s guest-worker program is essentially indentured servitude. It doesn’t help the immigrant, and it threatens wages.”
“Don’t forget — the Republicans have been in power for five years. They’ve had the House and Senate and the White House most of that time. And they have done nothing about immigration.”
Earned legalization. That's the phrase that makes one think of the old chestnut: the devil is in the details.
It's interesting to consider whether national policy is driven by some kind underlying national interest, as expressed by voters, rather than by the partisan platforms. Timothy Garton Ash writes an imaginary news article in the Guardian set in the future: Hillary Clinton's bombing of Iran in 2009. It's hard to know what exactly Garton Ash's is driving at, except perhaps that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Containment was supported by every administration during the Cold War from Truman to Reagan, though through each election cycle both parties somehow managed to convey that each disagreed with the other. In Ash's alternative future, America goes through a cycle of 9/11s and retaliations. Or rather, in his account, the new 9/11s are caused by Hillary's retaliation. It's funny how in Garton Ash's 2009, Hillary Clinton does the very thing that he thinks George Bush won't do. Only three years later.
May 7 2009 will surely go down in history alongside September 11 2001. "5/7", as it inevitably became known, saw massive suicide bombings in Tel Aviv, London and New York, as well as simultaneous attacks on the remaining western troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Total casualties were estimated at around 10,000 dead and many more wounded. The attacks, which included the explosion of a so-called dirty bomb in London, were orchestrated by a Tehran-based organisation for "martyrdom-seeking operations" established in 2004. "5/7" was the Islamic Republic of Iran's response to the bombing of its nuclear facilities, which President Hillary Clinton had ordered in March 2009. ...
Washington claimed that it had legal authorisation under earlier UN security council resolutions sanctioning Iran for its non-compliance on the nuclear issue, but these claims were disputed by China and Russia. Most European countries did not back the operation either, producing another big transatlantic rift. However, under enormous pressure from his close friends among US Democrats, the British prime minister, Gordon Brown, reluctantly decided to give it his approval, and allowed the token deployment of a small number of British special forces in a supporting role. This provoked a revolt from the Labour backbenches - led by the former foreign secretary, Jack Straw - and a demonstration of more than 1 million people in London. Even the Conservative leader, David Cameron, mindful that a general election was expected soon, criticised Brown's support for the American action. Brown therefore postponed the British election, which had been provisionally scheduled for May 2009. Instead of an election, the country experienced a tragedy.
As opposed to Garton Ash, Michael Young at Reason Magazine takes a look at the balance of pain between Iran and the US. There are no clear answers, just pros and cons Young seems to say. But he notes that people are "spinning" or emphasizing different pros and cons according to their political preferences, which is what you would expect. Seymour Hersh, for example, emphasizes the most extreme possible responses:
Hersh wrote that the lack of reliable intelligence about the bunkers protecting Iranian nuclear facilities "leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the sites, little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons." As the unnamed former official put it: "Every other option, in the view of the nuclear weaponeers, would leave a gap."
Go with Bush, go with Strangelove. It's an easy message to remember. But here's Young's best line.
On Sunday, Richard Clarke, the famous former national coordinator for security and counterterrorism, and Steven Simon, a former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council, warned that such ambiguity might lead to a clash that would be devastating for the U.S. Clarke and Simon recall that the Clinton administration also contemplated bombing Iran, but backed off because "the highest levels of the military could not forecast a way in which things would end favorably for the United States." ... the prize for apocalyptic prophecy went to former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, who thinks a war with Iran will be "the ending of America's present role in the world"
That single line encapsulates the problem with sanctions, blockades and surgical bombing. It puts America's foot on the escalator and Clark, Simon and Brzezinski are saying that they don't like where the escalator leads. The real core of the problem is that unless the US is ultimately willing to embark on a program of regime change then it might as well not contemplate any actions which might escalate at all. Because the mullahs will sense that America will never ride the escalator to the top and simply wait for the politicians to get off. Whatever OIF's defects were it had this virtue. It committed a US Administration, for good or ill, to an end state. Saddam is gone. Finished. Finito. Future problems might emerge but some things at least are settled beyond a shadow of a doubt. In the case of Iran, however, the case for regime change has not yet politically taken root. Politicians are still talking about 'denying the mullahs a nuclear weapon' as if that were distinguishable from toppling the mullahs.