Pat Buchanan was twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the Reform Party's candidate in 2000. He is also a founder and editor of The American Conservative. Buchanan served three presidents in the White House, was a founding panelist of three national TV shows, and is the author of nine books. His latest book is "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?"More ↓Less ↑
With the resignation of Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman, President Bush intends to fill the post with Florida’s Mel Martinez, a Hispanic who led the battle in the U.S. Senate for amnesty for illegal aliens.
“Martinez is going to lead the fight for amnesty that Bush could not win when Republicans controlled the Congress,” one angry RNC member told the Washington Times’ Ralph Hallow.
Unable to extract an amnesty bill from Denny Hastert and Co. in the House like the McCain-Kennedy bill he supports, Bush is looking to cut a deal with San Francisco Nancy.
Amnesty is to be the Bush legacy, and Martinez is to be the face of the party on the most explosive domestic issue of our era. For that, GOP precinct workers walked the line to hold Congress for the party.
Bush and Karl Rove still have not gotten the message, and probably never will. They have swallowed the Wall Street Journal and Weekly Standard line that the party’s tough stance against illegal immigration hurts with Hispanics, and only a “comprehensive” immigration bill can heal the wounds. “Comprehensive” is the code word for amnesty.
But Bush and Rove are misreading the returns as badly as they misread the country when they predicted the GOP would hold onto both chambers. Let’s have another look at those returns.
According to NumbersUSA, while Republicans lost 11.5 percent of their House seats, or one in nine, the Immigration Caucus of Tom Tancredo, the House hawks, lost 6.7 percent of its complement, only one in 16. Among Republicans given an “F” by immigration hawks, however, fully 25 percent lost their re-election bids, a bloodbath among the open-borders-and-amnesty-now crowd.
It was Bush’s War and Republican scandals that lost America, not the party’s stand on border security and immigration.
Imitation, it is said, is the sincerest form of flattery. Thus it is a testament to the popular appeal of the stop-the-invasion stand that Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton voted for 700 miles of security fence.
Indulging in their favorite pastime, cherry-picking evidence, the neocons claim that the losses in Arizona by Rep. J.D. Hayworth and Randy Graf, both hardliners, prove that Arizona and America reject a law-and-order approach to illegal immigration.
Yet Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, a hardliner, won re-election easily.
More significant, Arizonans voted in landslides on Nov. 7 to deny bail to illegal aliens, to bar them from receiving any punitive damages in lawsuits and to make English the state language. Among Latinos, 48 percent voted to make English the official language, just as, two years ago, 47 percent voted to cut off all welfare to anyone who could not prove he or she was in the country legally.
Latinos are patriots, too. They don’t like their country’s laws trampled on with impunity or their tax dollars going to support scofflaws, no matter their nationality.
Why did Graf lose? Jim Kolbe, the GOP congressman whom Graf chased out of the race, refused to endorse him, and Mehlman’s RNC gutted him in the primary.
The neocons also point to the fall-off in the Hispanic vote for the GOP, from 38 percent in 2002 to 30 percent in 2006, and attribute the drop-off to calls for a border fence. Yet far more serious was the fall-off among white voters, whose support, as Steve Sailer of VDare.com points out, fell from 58 percent in 2002 to 51 percent.
The relevant truth: The GOP vote fell 7 or 8 percent among all voters. But the seven-point plunge among white voters is more ominous than the eight-point drop among Hispanics. Why?
Because the white vote in America, 80 percent of the electorate, is 13 times as large as the Hispanic vote, which accounts for only 6 percent of all voters. It is the defection of its white vote that is killing the GOP.
The Reagan Democrats are going home.
If Bush and Rove think they can win them back with amnesty and a guest-worker program that out-sources immigration policy to K Street, they will end up doing for the national party what Gov. George Pataki did for it in New York.
Had Bush made border security and less immigration a dividing issue with the Democrats, fewer GOP lawmakers would be working on their resumes.
That Democrats are more aware of this than Rove is apparent, as one reads the astonishing story in the Washington Post headlined, “Democrats May Proceed With Caution on Immigration: Explosive Issue Not a Top Priority for Incoming Leaders.”
The reporters summarized Democratic thinking thus:
“In the days after the election, Democratic leaders surprised pro-immigration groups by not including the issue on their list of immediate priorities. Experts said the issue is so complicated, so sensitive and so explosive that it could easily blow up in the Democrats’ faces and give control of Congress back to Republicans in the next election two years from now. And a number of Democrats who took a hard line on immigration were also elected to Congress.”
After being named RNC chair, Mehlman headed straight to the NAACP convention – to apologize for the Nixon-Reagan strategy that gave the GOP the presidency in five of six straight elections.
And how has all that pandering availed Mehlman and Rove and George W. Bush?