The Long View 2004-10-14: The Third Debate & the Unmentionable Elephants in the Room

I always found John's stance on immigration pretty reasonable. I think this is a pretty good summary, in John's own words:

...almost every other domestic problem they discussed was a product of continuously high levels of immigration: downward pressure on wages; rising income inequality; the growing percentage of people without health insurance; persistently failing schools: all are products of an open demographic structure in which, no matter how many newly arrived poor people make their way up the economic ladder, there are always more behind them.
...
One can only repeat that the movement to end large-scale immigration for a few decades should not be mistaken for hostility to immigrants. The US can handle any finite number. Once the intake is under control, the status of illegals can be regularized in an orderly and humane fashion. Until then, however, we have a political system in which the Republican Party does not want to control immigration, because of the cheap labor, and the Democrats don't want to control it, because they have given up on the current electorate and hope to replace it with a new one.

The Third Debate & the Unmentionable Elephants in the Room

 

Understand: I am a strong supporter of the president, and I intend to vote for him on November 2.

When the third presidential debate ended last night, I thought: "That's it: Bush lost the election." Kerry had him dead to rights on his nonsensical notion of diverting Social Security payments to private investment accounts. The president had no alternative to Kerry's rather well thought out health-care initiatives. Bush kept changing the subject to education, but without saying anything interesting or relevant. And he repeatedly mentioned "Pell Grants." I have only a foggy notion what a Pell Grant is. Nothing Bush said about them clarified the matter.

Then there was the sickly sweet closing statement. Bush minced for the camera, smiled his saccharine smile, and asked the people to vote for him. He did not look like a presidential candidate; he looked like a poster child for some genetic neurological deficiency.

Well, you must imagine my surprise this morning. No one thinks that Bush walked away with the debate, but there seems general consensus that he was human and lucid. Kerry, in contrast, is criticized for being cold and self-contradictory. It really is true: Bush understands the mechanics of social-welfare programs quite well. Moreover, they visibly engage his enthusiasm. It is not clear that Senator Kerry has any enthusiasms, except perhaps for France, a country he goes out of his way not to mention by name.

I actually predicted that Bush would ace the domestic debates. That more or less happened, but I still don't believe it.

* * *

The candidates discussed immigration, though without greatly differentiating themselves. Both assume the continuation of high immigration levels. The only question they see is how to legally accommodate the large portion of it that now occurs illegally. In fact, of course, almost every other domestic problem they discussed was a product of continuously high levels of immigration: downward pressure on wages; rising income inequality; the growing percentage of people without health insurance; persistently failing schools: all are products of an open demographic structure in which, no matter how many newly arrived poor people make their way up the economic ladder, there are always more behind them.

This thought has occurred to others, as we learn from the kausfiles:

A couple of decades ago I read an article--by Norman Podhoretz, I think--that clued me in to the overriding importance of broken families when it came to explaining poverty statistics. Years later, Podhoretz's thesis became conventional wisdom. Now Robert Samuelson has written a similar column explaining that "the increase in poverty in recent decades stems mainly from immigration."

One can only repeat that the movement to end large-scale immigration for a few decades should not be mistaken for hostility to immigrants. The US can handle any finite number. Once the intake is under control, the status of illegals can be regularized in an orderly and humane fashion. Until then, however, we have a political system in which the Republican Party does not want to control immigration, because of the cheap labor, and the Democrats don't want to control it, because they have given up on the current electorate and hope to replace it with a new one.

This is all for 2008. One should note that Europe will be talking about the same thing at the same time.

* * *

There was little mention of foreign policy in last night's debate. However, in none of the debates, and indeed in none of the recent issues of the foreign-policy magazines, did anyone say something as important as what Mark Steyn wrote just before the last debate occurred:

Until recently we thought of ‘asymmetrical warfare’ as something the natives did with machetes against the colonialist occupier. But in fact the roles have been reversed. These days, your average Western power -- Germany, Canada, Belgium -- is utterly incapable of projecting conventional military might to, say, Saudi Arabia or the Pakistani tribal lands.

If you need a reason to vote against John Kerry, it is that he would make that asymmetry total and permanent.

* * *

Speaking of terrorist threats, readers are no doubt familiar with the new marionette-thriller-trouble-making movie, Team America: World Police. The chief villain, I gather, is the Dear Leader of the People's Democratic Republic of North Korea, Kim Jong-il.

Comrade Kim spent the early phase of the Iraq War hiding in underground bunkers, because he thought he was next. Comrade Kim has nuclear weapons and prototype ICBMs. Comrade Kim is known to be a film buff.

The North Korean news agency website is here. I see no reaction to the film. Not yet.

* * *

Here's a new bit of nastiness, reported by Drudge: DNC ELECTION MANUAL: CHARGE VOTER INTIMIDATION, EVEN IF NONE EXISTS (capitalization in original). This caught my eye, because I happened to hear part of The Brian Lehrer show on WNYC this morning. He was interviewing a representative of an activist law firm that was, in effect, challenging the election returns before the voting starts.

Forgive me for forgetting the name of the attorney and his firm. In any case, he stated without evidence or even plausible conjecture that the Republicans are planning to steal the election. Such assertions are Sorelian myths, not descriptions of the world. To use a less fancy term, they are The Party Line. When that term first came into use, it referred to the Communist Party. Now it refers to the Democratic Party.

Copyright © 2004 by John J. Reilly

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