Will the President's words be backed up by effective actions?
Seems the reaction among conservatives to the President's speech last night on immigration reform and border security ranges from the skeptical to the cynical. Hugh Hewitt sums up the general reaction this morning pretty succinctly:
President Bush did exactly what he had to do tonight: Hit the middle, agreeing to the fence, to a large increase in Border Patrol personnel and funding, tamper-proof identification, National Guard back-up of ICE for at least a year, the end of catch-and-release, blunt talk on the impossibility of mass deportation, an insistence on English, and a commitment to a guest worker program that will take pressure off enforcement by funneling large numbers of immigrant workers into the legal line.
Now the Senate needs to add specifics (especially on the fence) and get to the conference committee asap. There is no excuse for delay.
UPDATE: My interview with Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Julie Myers staggered me, undoing in a handful of minutes my confidence in the president's commitment to border security first. Either the president's team had not communicated effectively with sub-cabinet appointees about the fence, or the president doesn't really believe in the fence, because Assistant Secretary Myers is clearly not a proponent of the fence.
Memo to Tony Snow: The blogosphere/talk radio callers/e-mailers are turning against this speech in a decisive fashion. They simply do not believe the Administration is really committed to border enforcement, and the spokespeople sent out to back up the president's message aren't doing that job. Period.
It is all about the fence. The real fence.
I watched the speech myself and was surprised to hear the President mention many items in a forthright manner that, given past experience, I had not expected him to address. I was in fact surprised and pleased to hear him admit that mistakes had been made and failures had occured that would now be rectified. In fact, the speech at first hearing seemed like a good step forward in addressing necessary changes: increasing border security, stopping "catch and release" of non-Mexican gatecrashers, making sure employers realized it was against the law to hire illegal aliens, making sure "guest workers" in the U.S. had tamperproof identity papers, etc. Having hitherto heard nothing on all of this for far too long from the President, it was satisfying to finally have some to-the-point articulation and even the promise of some action (how little we have grown to expect from President Bush!). I respected that he finally (too little, too late) addressed these issues.
The blogosphere reaction this morning seems to range from the skeptical to the deeply cynical (to the revolutionary as many are fed up entirely with Republicans). I think it is realistic to be skeptical and understandable to be pessimistic about what Michelle Malkin calls the President's platitudes. While hoping some real progress can be made in securing our nation's sovereignty, it remains to be seen if what the President has promised will really come about. And there's the real rub. Not only is the devil in the details, but much remains in the hands of the Senate and the rest of the President's administration, who clearly do not get the messsage that the American people want effective border security now.
All I can say is, it's a (long overdue, shamefully late) start. Where it will go remains to be seen. I'm afraid I have even less hope of true, swift, good action from the Senate than I do from the President.