Diana West notes the emotional thread that connects President Bush to the immigration issue. It is evident, she finds, in stories he tells about his beloved Mexican-born housekeeper and his political associates including Alberto Gonzales. As Bush explained, “when you grow up in Texas like. . .I did, you recognize the decency and hard work, and humanity of Hispanics.”
It would be foolish, and indeed racist, to deny the humanity of Hispanics. But, as was the case with respect to Iraq, Bush seems oblivious to the fact that the implications of being human run in several directions. It was human of many Sunnis to want to remain dominant over the Shia population. It was human of many Shia to want to settle old scores, particularly given the post-invasion conduct of Sunni dead-enders.
It is also human for low-skilled, poorly educated Hispanic immigrants not readily to assimilate into a culture that has lost the self-confidence to demand, expect, or even encourage them to do so. And it is human for them to adopt a victim mentality in a society in which minority groups are expected to do so.
At its best, modern conservatism attempts to strike a balance between the traditional conservative sense of man’s fundamental frailty and the optimism of Reagan. Bush was never inclined, and possibly not equipped, to respect the first of these strands. The pressure of being president for more than six years seems to have exacerbated that failing.
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