The Washington Times reports that later today, the Administration will announce plans to begin deployment of a long-range missile defense system by 2004. Watch the Democratic Presidential candidates fall into line to support the deployment. Missile defense has always been popular with the American people, and the arguments against it are weak. The claim that it will never work is instinctively disbelieved by nearly everyone; most people believe, correctly, that American engineers can do pretty much anything. And the claim that it will be “destabilizing” for America to defend itself against incoming missiles is not only wrong but perverse.
Also in the Times is this report on an analysis of survey data by the Center for Immigration Studies, which claims that 60% of Americans–but only 14% of those classified as “elites”–believe that current immigration levels represent a “critical threat to the vital interests of the United States.” Likewise, about 70% of the American public say that controlling and reducing illegal immigration should be an important goal of American foreign policy. Interestingly, immigration is the area of foreign policy where President Bush scores the lowest with the American public.
Placing reasonable controls on immigration, like missile defense, is popular, is good public policy, and takes on added urgency from the war on terror. Add a third policy–drilling for oil in Alaska to reduce dependence on foreign supplies–and the Administration could go a long way toward assuring its re-election. Whether the President and Congressional Republicans will take this route remains to be seen, of course. At present, only missile defense looks likely. These are issues where the Democrats could, theoretically, get around to Bush’s right. On immigration, in particular, if the Democrats came out for meaningful reforms they could dramatically increase their political chances. But it isn’t going to happen. If progress is to be made on these issues, the Republicans will have to lead, as they are now on missile defense.
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