Back in November of last year, I wrote in this space that the political forecast for the Republican Party was “dark.” Six months later the darkness has not lifted; in fact, bats are now hanging from the White House ceiling.
The bleak outlook is because of three major issues: Iraq, gas prices, and immigration.
The Iraq conflict is simply too confusing. Now in its fourth year, the geo-political strategy of establishing a democratic beachhead in the terror-filled Gulf region is still a jump ball. Will Iraq ever become a free country? Who the heck knows?
But we all know about gas prices. According to a Gallup Poll, 69% of Americans say the rocketing cost of fuel is hurting them every day. Even though President Bush might not be at fault here, he is the coach of team America. And when the fans are angry, the coach usually gets fired. And the fans are angry.
On immigration, the President’s position is nuanced. He wants a “guest worker” program, but is hazy about how to secure the border so millions more “guest workers” don’t come dashing into this country uninvited.
Unfortunately for Mr. Bush, most Americans are not nuanced about illegal immigration. They don’t like it. They want it stopped. After the border is finally secured, many Americans will consider some kind of orderly process to mainstream those who have entered illegally, but not before.
So the President finds himself in an unlit cave with no clear way out. He can bloviate all he wants about the worthiness of Iraq, the pain of high gas prices, and the humane way to deal with illegal immigration, but the folks want some results. Dreaming about ethanol is not going to cut it.
With his administration on the verge of entering Jimmy Carter territory–that is, losing the confidence of the public, President Bush must act boldly. Here’s how he can turn things around:
- Move the National Guard to the southern border to back up the Border Patrol. That would shut down most illegal entries and stunt the rampant drug smuggling. The press would scream, but the President’s base would be energized, and his poll numbers would shoot up immediately.
- In conjunction with the troop movements, the President could then demand Congress pass a “fair worker” program that would provide a “pathway” to citizenship for those illegal aliens who pay a fine and register for proper working credentials. Some conservatives might not like that, but would accept it, knowing troops were helping control the border.
- Strongly suggest that oil companies voluntarily roll back prices to 2005 levels for the good of the country in a time of war. Remember, the oil companies made record profits last year. They’d still be swimming in money if they cut prices 20%.
- Stay the course in Iraq. That country’s future is now vital to America’s future. Whatever it takes, we have to win there. A loss in Iraq gives Iran major power in the Gulf. God help us.
So those are some daring moves the President could make tomorrow. The President might also seriously think about exactly where he is in history. Maybe somebody should tape a picture of Jimmy Carter on his bathroom mirror.