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I like Paul Ryan. He seems like a great person. I think he’s sincere about wanting to set America back on the right course. But, like so many other so-called “conservative” Republican leaders, he doesn’t understand political strategy for turning around a country headed for unmitigated disaster.

Let’s take what he had to say about the immigration issue on ABC’s “This Week,” for example. Asked by Jonathan Karl, sitting in for George Stephanopoulos, about what Barack Obama had to say about it in his State of the Union address, here’s how he responded:

“I really don’t enjoy saying this. I did think that his words were measured and productive in the State of the Union. But putting this – leaking this out does set things in the wrong direction. Look, the question that we always have to ask ourselves, particularly with this White House, is the president looking for a partisan advantage or is he looking for a bipartisan law? And by putting these details out without a guest worker program, without addressing future flow, by giving advantage to those who cut in front of line for immigrants who came here legally, not dealing with border security adequately, that tells us that he’s looking for a partisan advantage and not a bipartisan solution. There are groups in the House and the Senate working together to get this done and when he does things like this, it makes that much more difficult to do that. And that’s why I think this particular move, very counterproductive.”

Karl then asked: “Well, let’s be clear. You have said that you would support an immigration bill that included a pathway for citizenship, correct?”

Ryan’s response: “Yes, look, absolutely because we think that’s – there’s a way to do this through earned legalization without rewarding people for having come in with undocumented status, illegally. We don’t want to give them an advantage over those who came here legally and we think there’s a way to do this while still respecting the rule of law. It’s clear that what the president is talking about does not do that. I have a long record of immigration reform. I’m not a Johnny-come-lately on this issue. We’ve always believed that there is a way of doing this while respecting the rule of law, that’s the delicate balance that needs to be achieved for this to be bipartisan and the president on most of these issues and this one now, like the others, seems to be looking for a partisan advantage and not bringing the parties together.”

And that illustrates the heart of the problem people like Ryan, who I assume to be well-intended, have in dealing with the opposition. They set traps for themselves every time they try to be bi-partisan and meet the other part halfway. It’s as predictable as clockwork. And each and every time Republicans do it, they get their clocks cleaned.

That’s why there can never be what is euphemistically called “comprehensive immigration reform” that is fair, just, moral and respects the rule of law.

What do I mean?

The reason so-called “progressives,” and I include Republicans like George W. Bush in that category, insist on massive pieces of legislation to deal with problems like this is because they have no intentions of doing what Ryan and most Americans believe should be done on the issue of immigration first – namely genuinely securing the border to stop the influx of illegal aliens. Neither do they have any intentions of ensuring that immigrants who followed the law don’t get double-crossed. All they care about is amnesty because they see it as a ticket to creating new constituents and changing the culture of the country they actually detest.

There is no meeting such people halfway – not if your goal is fairness, justice, morality, the rule of law and the preservation of the culture of America.

Ryan acts like he’s surprised when Democrats like Obama do what they always do. What kind of political tactician is that? Sadly, it’s the kind whom, as the vice presidential nominee of his party last year, couldn’t even carry his own home state.

How should Republicans and conservatives handle the thorny issue of immigration?

They should insist on breaking the problem into pieces:

If there is a problem, everyone knows it begins at the border, with too many people entering the country illegally. Therefore, before any other component of immigration “reform” is discussed or debated, they should insist that the border is secured. Period. End of story. If the administration doesn’t respect the simple laws already on the books, why give them any more laws to manipulate to their advantage?

The second demand is that enforcement of immigrations laws already on the books begin in earnest immediately. Instead, as we all know, this administration has actually sued states for attempting to enforce duly enacted legislation Washington refuses to enforce.

The third demand is that illegal immigrants are not treated preferentially over legal immigrants and those who have followed the law and are awaiting entry into the country. In other words, the lawbreakers go to the back of the bus, not the head of the line.

Until those conditions are all met, there should be no discussion of new laws on immigration because anyone with half a brain knows Obama and the so-called “progressive” Democrats are not honorable people. They are not persons of their word. They will say anything to get their way. And Republicans fall for it every time – even those with principle and good intentions. They are lousy strategists.

Another example is the federal debt.

How many times must we see people like Paul Ryan propose a 10-year deficit reduction plan knowing full well the Democrats – and even many Republicans – will never abide by the plan and never implement the cuts? Worse yet, in the meantime, these “conservative” plans continue to mount new debt for years – all on the promise that future congresses are going to follow the plan.

The Democrats get their way because they actually demand more than they believe they will get. They make crazy, unreasonable, irrational proposals knowing that if they get half of what they want, they have scored a huge victory. Meanwhile, the mushy-headed, weak-kneed Republicans are always playing defense – and always losing ground.

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