Pat Buchanan's Republican Party.
In Peggy Noonan's latest column she wonders what motivates President Bush to challenge his base on illegal immigration. (Here.) She concludes "I continue to believe the administration's problem is not that the base lately doesn't like it, but that the White House has decided it actually doesn't like the base. That's a worse problem. It's hard to fire a base. Hard to get a new one."
Actually, that isn't the problem. The problem for the President isn't that he dislikes his base. The problem is that his base is so completely and utterly wrong on immigration reform.
But there's a larger problem facing the President and the Republican Party. That problem is the conservative base's decision to abandon President Bush.
It's sad really. President Bush has done more for conservatives and Republicans than any President in recent history. More even than Reagan who won two terms as President but who could do nothing about the Democratic Party's stranglehold on Congress. But in their hearts conservatives would rather lose power than further compromise their principles by continuing to support the President's compassionate conservatism.
Hurrican Katrina destroyed the Bush Presidency. First, the live televised government failure ruined the President's standing with nonpartisan Americans. Second, the President's promise to spend whatever it takes to rebuild New Orleans caused conservatives to reexamine their allegiance to the President and decide they made a mistake. He's a big spender, don't you know. Six years of big spending didn't do it. No, it was his promise to rebuild New Orleans that finally led unmodified conservatives to conclude that maybe President Bush is more compassionate than he is conservative.
Since Katrina one event after another has divided conservatives from the President. Illegal immigration is only the latest issue to do so. It shouldn't. The President's comprehensive plan is reasonable and within the tradition of the Republican Party's spiritual grandfather, Ronald Reagan.
But conservatives today have abandoned the positive and inclusive spirit that animated Reagan's politics. Instead conservatives have embraced the negative and divisive spirit of the Republican Party's angry little brother, Patrick Buchanan. Buchanan, for those who only know him as an occasional MSNBC commentator, ran for President more than once on an isolationist, anti-immigrant, and protectionist platform. He lost badly each time.
Things have changed. America finds herself at war abroad in a conflict that seems without end. More and more Americans just want to call it a day and bring the troops home. At home, many Americans have come to view illegal immigrants as an invading army to be repelled at all costs. In the middle of a booming economy, Americans are insecure about their own prospects as Lou Dobbs relentlessly demagogues on TV about a "War on the Middle Class." Buchanan's time has come.
Technorati: Bush, Immigration, Illegal immigration.