Jonah Goldberg abandoning ship - but not immigration boosterism
November 05, 2006, 05:34 AM
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Now that is widely perceived that the Republicans under the navigation of the Bush Administration are sailing dead onto electoral reefs, crowds of neoconservative rats are to be seen scurrying about the decks, trying to wriggle onto any plausible escape vehicle. For a remarkable example on the Foreign Policy side, see Neo Culpa by David Rose Vanity Fair Nov 3 2006. Note characteristic lack of loyalty to the Bush officials they had mesmerized. Anybody in possession of any political craft that might float needs to think hard about taking these specimens on board. They bring their policies with them. It is a public health risk. Scrabbling around, with whiskers twitching as vigorously as any, is NROs Jonah Goldberg. Last month he tried to slip onto the Iraq-skeptic lifeboat, offering to agree the invasion decision was wrong —but clutching onto a policy of US military presence there anyway. Now he is attempting to push onto the immigration restrictionist raft.

A border bonfire smolders latimes.com November 4, 2006 is a reminder that, 25 years ago, before the Bush binge intoxicated them into arrogant boorishness, the neos infiltrated the Conservative movement to a large extent by intellectual vivacity and charm. Goldberg defines the situation perceptively and incisively. Illegal immigration, he says, is

the issue that serves as the glue for American populist anger today. But liberals and Democrats refuse to say anything serious on the topic. I’m rooting for the conservative Republicans, but they have a hitch of their own: The leadership of their own party stands in their way.

Evaluating the heterogeneous amalgamation of selfish interests which block immigration reform, he correctly judges:

Jam all the logs together and you have campus leftists aligned with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Nancy Pelosi with George W. Bush and MoveOn.org with the Wall Street Journal, all standing shoulder-to-shoulder to block serious immigration reform. With the important exception of working-class Latinos (legal and illegal), one thing that unites all of these people is that they are members of the economic and social elite… When it comes to immigration, they have settled on a marriage of convenience.

Since accuracy and precision about immigration is almost absent from the sunlit upper slopes of the MSM, access to which appears to have been Goldberg's birthright, an inexperienced immigration patriot might well feel grateful. Perhaps even enough to overlook Goldberg's part in the eradication of immigration realism from the National Review, and the resultant blank check to the Bush Administration on the subject.

This would be a serious mistake. Although doubtless written to ingratiate the author with an element of GOP opinion which will be little harmed—perhaps even relatively strengthened—by an upcoming GOP loss of Congressional patronage, the essay offers immigration realists only small coins. In fact, a careful reading reveals the real theme of the article is "How do we prevent the rubes and yahoos using this issue to dislodge us from control of the party?".

The worry is that this leaves a lot of room for populists, rabble rousers and opportunists to exploit immigration—as Jean-Marie Le Pen and his ilk have done across Europe.... Eventually someone will figure out how to claim the emotional power of the immigration issue, for one party or the other... I hope the GOP will succeed at heading off the slide into demagoguery...a responsible political class would recognize the danger that the kindling of immigration could become a bonfire if ignored.

That’s one reason why I reluctantly came out in favor of a fence on the border. Sure, the symbolism to the world is bad. But it would send Americans the message that elites are serious about an issue millions of Americans care about....

Totally absent from the piece is any acknowledgement that the historic character of the nation should even be considered, let alone defended. In fact, Goldberg's preferred policy is essentially that of the Bush White House—end illegal immigration by making it all legal.

Conservatives can plausibly argue for increased legal immigration even as we clamp down on illegal immigration

The most positive thing to be said about this column is that it clearly shows what camouflage Goldberg thinks he needs.

Mass immigration is bad for the nation's health. So is Neoconservatism.