Saturday, May 20, 2006
In Dallas as Most Everywhere Else, Immigration Has Split GOP Conservatives
I cut short the Blog yesterday to go to Dallas Thursday night for a speech to business types. I found just as everywhere else, a great number of the CEOs were dovish on immigration, wanting protection at the border but great leniency for the illegals, stressing they are good workers and the difficulty created by hawkish anti-immigration hawks like Tom Tancredo. It tells you something: either that Ive become country club myself or getting more liberal as I get older that I find myself agreeing with them. These are people who contribute to the campaigns in a very conservative Dallasalthough just as everywhere else, the country club is mellowing in polemics: there were people there who shrink from Limbaugh (not me: I pedal my stationery bike each morning listening to Lord Limbaugh). I didnt notice any great approval for George W. Bush (except a kind of defensiveness since he is a local Texas boy; but no particular support for the dovish stand he has put forth on immigration: an anomaly. At the same time, when you meet the conservative grass-roots they adore Limbaugh, want to canonize Tancredo and others; they support the House bill. Which explains Hasterts support of a tough immigration stand. I come down on the Gingrich approach which is tougher than Bushs but not as tough as Tancredos.
In support of the House measure, I talked on the phone to a very senior Congressman (who is not from Dallas) who is retiring who tells me when a fissure like this surfaces, the prudent thing to do is to go with the grassroots not the business people. Business people tend to forget and forgive; the grass-roots base tends to do neither. It is important to remember that throughout his conservative career, Ronald Reagan was usually on the side of the grass-roots and not the county club. When he approved amnesty in 1986, popular with business, the issue hadnt energized the grass-roots as much as it has today. If he were still a practicing politician today, Reagan might very well eschew amnesty, says the House senior.