Friday, December 28, 2007

When Virtue Is a Vice

I am a Bushman. He’s the only president of my lifetime that I’ve liked, while in office. Far from perfect -- wincingly inept as a communicator, and that is no small failing. But however poorly spoken or delivered are his speeches, he says the right things about the greatest issue of our time -- greatest issue for the world, that is. Islamism, of course. In this, Bush is Churchill without the eloquence. That’s not nothing. It took too many years to find a winning strategy for Iraq, but such things always take too long. He lost a lot of respect from the world, but the world is a coward. The third of the American population that comprise the disloyal opposition are simply true to type -- the only thing they're true to. The wavering middle third have shown the weakness of their characters -- they had not the fortitude to stay the course, and have flopped over to the left. For all the vacillation within this country, however, and for all the high cost, Bush has been right.


It’s not easy for me to say it. It feels disloyal. Not that I necessarily owe loyalty. The term “Kool-Aid drinker” seems to have enjoyed a resurgence over the past decade – resuscitated from Jim Jones days – and I wouldn’t have it describe me. I suppose if the cause were great enough I would follow a leader unto death. But I’m too old for the military – they won’t have me. In any case, my behavior can be only slightly affected by a concern for the nasty names someone might choose to attempt to insult me with. Screw ’em. No, my loyalty is earned by an adherence to a shared cause. Insofar as we have the same goal, we are in agreement.


Bush is utterly wrong, on illegal immigration. Wrong to the point of disaster. Wrong to the point where all the calumnies of which he is insanely accused by the moonbats, are true, on this issue. Not true in substance, but true in the degree of wrongness attributed. No, not Bushitler. But leading to ruin. Not a moron, but utterly wrongheaded.

Part of the problem, for the right, is that Bush really isn’t a conservative. He is a pragmatist. He sees the goal he wants, and works to achieve it, regardless of what allies he needs to join with. Moreover, for all that he is Texas bred, he is his father’s son. He was raised to consider manners, and he exhibits that old-Republican, WASPish dread of bad-form. Fair play is so important. Bush is, I think, a uniquely honest man. Strange, isn’t it, how opposite my opinion is to the Left’s. But Bush says what he will do, and he tries to do it. Every time, it seems. He wasn’t lying when he said he was a uniter, not a divider. He wasn’t wrong when he described himself as a compassionate conservative.

That’s the problem. Bush, because of the man he is, has placed some consideration higher than the fact that he is Executive in Chief -- that is, the head sheriff, the buck-stopping official whose job it is to enforce the laws of the land. For Bush, as his actions clearly show, the issue greater even than national sovereignty, secure borders, rule of law, is compassion for the illegals. He is looking at their side of the problem. He is acting as excuse-maker and conciliator, rather than fulfilling the Constitutional duty incumbent upon him.

Bush is not the president of Mexico. Mexico has its own president, who is doing a superb job of tending his proper business -- solving Mexican social problems, in this case by exporting poverty-riven, unwanted population northward in exchange for billions of dollars in remittances. Mr. Bush was hired to do a job of work, not to save the world, and certainly not to save Mexico. His job description in no manner includes compassion or care for citizens of alien nations -- most pointed, any such citizens who trample our law and culture by invading our land by the millions.

The president’s job is to aggressively advance the general welfare of this nation and its citizens. The United States isn’t a non-profit organization. It is a corporation, the prime responsibility of which is to its stockholders -- us. A CEO who fails to aggressively seek every such benefit is guilty of malfeasance. Period.

So why the laxness on illegal immigration? Is it about cheap labor? We have cheap labor here -- fewer than 25% of those working in agribusiness (the greatest employer of illegals) are illegals. In other words, more than 75% of those working in a job Americans won’t do, are American. They scrub our toilets? This is a job my mother did, in the house I grew up in. There is definitely an insult in the lying, vile slander that there are jobs Americans won't do -- an insult against our mothers, and ourselves. But such is the logic that attempts to justify the inexcusable. No, it’s not about cheap labor.

Is it about fairness? Laughable. What of fairness for those who have played by the rules? Aren’t the rule-followers the ones who deserve every first consideration, of fairness? Isn’t that the schoolyard ethos to which such reasoning attempts to appeal? What did we do, to the kid who took cuts? -- who butted into line? Some of us cried, some got mad, some beat him up, some called for the teacher. The only ones who didn’t mind were those who unfairly profited by it -- the kid, and his friends. But that’s why we have rules. We don’t run our society on the basis of getting away with whatever you can because of who you know. That’s such a very, uh, Mexican way of doing things. And who is it that’s supposed to guard fairplay? To whom did we appeal, as children? Teacher. The authority. But the authority now is on the side of the cut-takers. For shame.

What remains? Compassion. Bush is animated not by a need to be liked by foreigners. We’ve seen clearly enough that he is unimpressed by the promise of such approbation. He doesn’t need the approval of anyone -- not even his increasingly alienated base. He uses as his guiding principle his understanding of his Christian faith, and so he seeks to welcome the stranger who sojourns in our camp. In biblical times, the law-abiding stranger was welcomed. In this Bush is right. But the lawless stranger was outlawed, banished from the land. What of this principle? Bush has failed to make the distinction.

As a Christian, Bush is not wrong to be compassionate. But he was not hired to be a Christian. He was hired to enforce the law. As such, his New Testament model is not the man who gives away his cloak, but the soldier who carries still the sword. The president, too, is a man under authority. And he must raise a sword not only against those declared blood enemies who raid from distant lands, but also against the house-breaker whose motives may not seem malevolent but whose actions are unlawful and destructive to social order. The sword -- that is, coercive force -- is reserved for those incorrigible scofflaws who refuse to abide by the mores of our society. Well? Which are the illegals? We call them by their true name.

There is no virtue that cannot become vicious when out of balance. There is always, and must always be, a tension between justice and mercy. Mr. Bush has failed to honor this principle, in his illegal-immigration policy. He owes none but a general regard for Mexico -- human rights ... humanitarian aid ... a prosperous neighbor that adds to our own prosperity. But he has transgressed his proper office, acting now as activist for an inimical force, and in so doing he betrays his oath of office and the sacred bond of trust that even his political enemies expect, although unspoken, and despite the fact that in this instance they are working in collusion with him. He has united with them.

If I -- who am so careful, so patient, so willing to understand -- have turned at last away in dismay, then what hope has Mr. Bush and the Republican Party? When the only supposedly-responsible party is out of power in all but the Executive Branch, what hope of any sort can there be? -- in these so-crucial times?

The greatest threat to America is not islamism. That is the greatest threat to the world. But islamism can kill only its few thousands, here and there, with its hijacked jets or its toxic powders. The greatest threat to America is its open border, demarked not by a fence but by a long and well-worn trail trampled smooth by millions of north-bound feet. For them, it is a highway of opportunity. For us, it is a sheet-flood of poverty at best, and at worst well, when the nuke finally does come, it will not be a missile. It will not fall from the heavens. It will be carried in a backpack, across our southern frontier.


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