Free Advice for President Bush

The President hasn’t asked for my advice, but here it is anyway.

You know how the Democrats are always after you to admit that you made a mistake? You’ve wisely ignored them; they don’t have your interests at heart, and the policies they’re talking about weren’t mistakes. The time has come, though, to go on national television and say you were wrong, and you’ve changed your mind. About immigration.

Give a major speech in prime time. Say that you still think that a long-term solution to the immigration issue should include a guest worker program. Acknowledge, however, that many Americans disagree and there is currently no consensus on a long-range policy. Say that, more fundamentally, you’re now convinced that our first priority has to be getting control over our borders. Until we control our borders, and know who is coming and going, any immigration policy we may announce will be meaningless anyway.

So, discussion about long-term approaches to immigration will continue. But in the meantime, your priority will be securing the borders and enforcing the laws currently on the books. Which means that the crackdown on employers of illegals will be expanded. Announce some specific measures to begin securing the Mexican border, preferably including some kind of fence.

This simple act will cause your approval ratings to begin rebounding, re-energize Republicans, and assure that the party keeps its Congressional majorities in November. If you really want to get the conservative base back in your corner, go and meet with the Minutemen–on camera–and tell them you appreciate what they’re doing.

That’s step one. Here’s step two. It was announced this morning that Republicans in the House and Senate have agreed to extend the capital gains cut for another two years. You think this is sound public policy because it will be good for the economy. You’re right, but no one cares. The economy has been terrific for years; how much good has it done you or the Republican Party? That’s right. Little or none.

You need to couple this tax cut with spending cuts. Tax cuts unaccompanied by spending restraint are rightly viewed with cynicism by both conservatives and liberals. Focus on earmarks; even the liberals don’t try to defend them. Threaten to veto any spending bill that contains a single earmark. Then do it. If that creates a temporary problem with the appropriations process, talk about the need for a line-item veto. Not only will an all-out attack on earmarks warm the hearts of the Republican faithful, it will be broadly supported across the political spectrum.

If you do these two things, you will reinvogorate your administration. You will demonstrate that as President, you are still the nation’s most powerful political figure. You will regain the trust and enthusiastic support of the Republican Party. And you will assure that, with continuing Republican control of Congress, the remainder of your administration will be devoted to productive work on behalf of the American people, not defending yourself against politically-motivated “investigations” and impeachment proceedings.

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