Bush and the M Word

There`s no more dreaded term in
Presidential politics than "malaise." Twenty-five
years ago, Jimmy Carter went to the mountaintop to
discover why his chances of re-election were slipping
away. Eventually, he came down to

inform America
that we, the people, were suffering a

malaise
.

The fault lay not with him, but
with us.

Of course, we quickly decided the
opposite. Ever since then, "malaise" has summed
up the Carter Administration in its death-spiral.

It`s hard to remember now, but just
one month ago on New Year`s Day, George W. Bush was on
top of the world. Saddam had been captured and stocks
were high. Re-election seemed like a shoo-in.

Today, Saddam`s still in the pokey
and the Dow`s well over 10,000. But January turned out
to be a terrible month for the White House.

The Administration spent the summer
hyping how chief weapons inspector David Kay was going
to prove there were indeed Weapons of Mass Destruction
in Iraq. On Wednesday, though, he told the Senate,
"We were almost all

wrong."

Bush`s

Iraq Attaq
, once supposedly the centerpiece of the
War on Terror, will go down in history as the War in
Error.

Republicans were already uneasy
about Bush`s huge deficit and spendthrift ways. Then, we
learned last week that the White House had misled the
public about its huge new entitlement. Amy Goldstein

reported in the Washington Post [Higher
Medicare Costs Suspected for Months
, January 31,
2004]:

"Bush administration
officials had indications for months that the new
Medicare prescription drug law might cost considerably
more than the $400 billion advertised by the White House
and Congress, according to internal documents and
sources familiar with the issue. The president`s top
health advisers gathered such evidence and shared it
with select lawmakers, congressional and other sources
said, long before the White House disclosed Thursday
that it believes the program will cost $534 billion over
the next decade… "

Is Bush dishonest? Or is he simply
so

lazy
that he`s invincibly ignorant? It`s a
fascinating debate—but not one that Bush can win.

History is likely to record the
Bush Administration`s

turning point
as

January 7, 2004
, when Bush needlessly plunged his
administration into a malaise by announcing the

Karl Rove Amnesty Plan
(a.k.a. KRAP).

I explained back in 2001 why Bush`s
immigration trial balloon would

never fly.

Interestingly, some of the new
features reflect Rove`s attempts to solve problems we at
VDARE.com had thoughtfully identified for him.

For example, immigrants who

become citizens vote
for Democrats by

landslide margins
, so Congressional Republicans
don`t want

more immigrants
. KRAP, therefore, denies citizenship
to guest workers, leaving them a disenfranchised caste
of unassimilated

gastarbeiters.

But Bush`s new Machiavellianism
automatically cedes the

rhetorical high ground to the Democrats,
who are
already pushing for "earned
legalization
"
(i.e., giving illegals the
vote). Bush is left contradictorily sputtering about how

wonderful immigrants are
and how we don`t want them
to become our fellow citizens.

Rove has spent three years telling
the press what a brilliant political ploy amnesty would
be, so his initial spin was: what a cynical political
ploy!

But to anyone less

innumerate
than the

average reporter
(and I`m starting to wonder
seriously if that includes Rove), chasing Hispanics at
the expense of annoying others makes no quantitative
sense at all. According to the huge Census Bureau survey
of voters immediately following the 2000 election,
non-Hispanic whites outnumber Latinos by

15 to 1. Thus, if KRAP costs Bush two
percentage points of the white vote, he`d have to win an
additional 30 percentage points more of the Hispanic
vote to break even.

And, as I predicted, even Hispanics
voters aren`t krazy for KRAP. A

poll of 800 Hispanics by the James Irvine
Foundation found that immigration is only the fourth
most important issue to Hispanics, following traditional
Democratic strong suits "jobs and the economy,"
"education,"
and "health
care
."

It`s important to note that illegal
immigration is highly popular among

Hispanic leaders and activists
because their careers
soar as the number of Hispanics rises. But Latino voters
as a whole have rationally mixed feelings about it. They
suffer the most direct consequences of
lower wages
and

lousier schools
.

Among Hispanics who are registered
voters (and thus are not

illegal immigrants
), interest in Bush`s immigration
plan was strikingly low. Two weeks after Bush`s speech,
a plurality of Hispanic registered voters (41 percent)
either hadn`t heard of the proposal or had no opinion of
it, followed by 35 percent who supported it and 24
percent who opposed it.

Worse, when given more information
on the plan—such as that it required

guest workers
to go home i.e., be deported— a
plurality disapproved (47-42).

Among all Hispanics, the Democratic

Congressional Hispanic Caucus`
"earn citizenship"
plan was favored over Bush`s "temporary legal status"
plan by a crushing 75-16 margin.

Bush`s approval rating among
Hispanics is decent, but there`s little evidence that
will translate into more votes in November.

Hispanic registered voters
favored a generic
Democratic Presidential candidate over Bush by a 51-30
edge.

The Irvine pollsters summed up:

"Bush`s
approval rating among Latinos and the percentage of
Latinos intending to cast votes for him in 2004 did

not
show
improvement over figures from recent national surveys
completed before the immigration proposal was
announced."

What can Bush do?

Bush almost never fires
anybody for

incompetence
. But he can start with

Karl Rove
.

Then, Bush can
backtrack on immigration. He doesn`t have to admit he`s
dumping the immigration plan—I guess—but he should
announce, quite reasonably, that his plan requires
prerequisites, most notably getting

control of the border.

This would be wildly popular with the public.


[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and


movie critic
for


The American Conservative
.
His website


www.iSteve.blogspot.com
features his daily
blog.]