THE DEMAGOGUE SHUFFLE. Bush's new plan to deploy the National Guard to the border is a bit pathetic. Here's a guy who has never showed an ounce of interest in border enforcement, who's been laudably pro-immigrant throughout his administration, and who loves to declare that he doesn't follow the polls. So, now that his numbers are bottoming out, what does he do? Send American guardsmen to lock-down the border, stopping a crisis that doesn't actually exist. Forget, for a moment, that our National Guard is wildly overstretched, and probably has better things to do than stand watch for Mexicans (ports, anybody?). We're about to send thousands of troops to intercept peaceable human beings who are net pluses to our economy and desperately needed by many of our industries.
If we need immigration reform, fine. And if we want to increase enforcement, so be it. But the idea that this is such an urgent problem that the legislative process must be circumvented for immediate troop deployment is just laughable. And the idea that deploying troops will do anything but subliminally scare Americans into thinking Mexicans pose some real physical threat, rather than an imagined economic danger, is similarly naive. The GOP, long searching for an enemy, believes it has found one. It's readying to ratchet up the country's latent fears and xenophobic tendencies in order to get a slight boost in the polls. For a long time, demonizing Mexicans was the one thing Bush wouldn't do -- not in office, not when he was governor of Texas. But look at the polls. Bush is drowning in, and tonight, when this plan is officially announced, his final shreds of dignity and decency will take their last gasp.