Saturday, May 20, 2006

Bush's Base

I heard David Brooks on PBS Newshour tonight say (in paraphrase) it was commendable that Bush stuck with his principles on immigration, rather than throwing his conservative base red meat by being tougher on enforcement.

That's one way to look at it. But I think what's actually going on is much more obvious: Bush stuck with the his primary constituency: big business and the very rich. They want cheap labor howeve they can get it, and illegal immigrants certainly work cheap.

Any other element of the Republican coalition regularly gets the shaft, but not the wealthy.

  • I'm dubious if there are any real Libertarians who are Bush fans: he's consolidated power in the executive and greatly increased the police power of the government over citizens, not to mention ballooning government's size. They'd have to be masocho-libertarians (or more likely, faux libertarian Republicans like Glenn Reynolds) to stick with him.

  • The hardcore fundie Republicans regularly get bones tossed their way, but he has no fear of sending them packing when the chips are down. Typical of Republican presidents, he won't go to the large DC anti-choice rally, but will make a statement over the phone.

  • The paleocons get dissed regularly too (Foreign entanglements, government size, deficit among his abuse of the Reagan conservative).

I can't really think of a time when he's really stuck it to the very wealthy and business, especially big business, however. And, of course they are his true people:
Bush gazed around the diamond-studded $800-a-plate crowd and commented on the wealth on display.

"This is an impressive crowd - the haves and the have-mores," quipped the GOP standard-bearer. "Some people call you the elites; I call you my base."
I suppose you could call his stance on immigration standing by his principles. I call it dancing with the one who brung him.

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