A reader writes:
I'm a little puzzled by your post snickering over the debate on the right about immigration. First, you acknowledge that opposition to the bill arguably is legitimate, so what you condemn is the volume, or hysteria, of the debate. Since when was the aesthetic of measuredness in rhetoric your primary criterion for the substantive value of a given debate? I mean, you've often characterized yourself as "excitable", and many of your blog posts reflect that. It's one of the reasons I read you every day - you're certainly not boring! So why does National Review have to be boring, if you don't?
Second, you identify the "circular firing squad" as further evidence of the weakness of what passes for conservatism these days. In other words, because Republicans are debating amongst themselves so vociferously, this shows their movement is cracking up. But in the past, what you've identified as the weakness of the movement is its robot-like behavior - following the Bush/Rove machine off of a cliff on one issue after another, all the while betraying one principle after another of conservatism. Again, which is it? Are Republicans fascist zombies who march in lockstep with one another, or are they at each other's throats? I contend that the furious dialectic between rank and file Republicans and their leadership on this is issue is a sign that the elephant may not be dead. What's the alternative? Cynical Kos "winnerism" - a policy-neutral approach to politics where all that matters is figuring out what position will appeal to a majority of the electorate?
And of course, what one can't really discern from your post is what your own position on the bill is, substantively. Or do you have any positions anymore, other than that whatever Republicans do is a sure sign of political weakness and intellectual bankruptcy?
Well, I hope not. I spelled out my own views on illegal immigration, and don't see the internecine GOP debate as unhealthy at all. My issue is with the level of animus and hysteria which are as unpleasant as they are self-defeating. I actually feel a bit for Bush in this. Nonetheless, I've been in Southern California these past few days on a speaking trip and got an earful from several people about the toll illegal immigration has had on their communities, and I may well have been insulated from the frustrations many feel. But, as always, the readers let me know.