Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Major dailies on Bush's speech

The Los Angeles Times devotes a news story to the National Guard deployment:
As a result, the president's big initiative is heavy on symbolism but will be small in scale — and largely invisible on the ground. Though about 6,000 guardsmen at a time will be assigned to the southern U.S. border in two-week stints, they will be limited to supporting roles behind the scenes.

That reflects Pentagon officials' reluctance to use the Guard in a direct law enforcement role, because catching illegal immigrants is not a task soldiers routinely train for. And officials in border states worry that armed soldiers will exacerbate tensions and step on local law enforcement efforts.
The Washington Post:
"We have over 300 Border Patrol officers from here serving in Iraq. Why doesn't [President Bush] bring them home to do the job they were trained to do?" said Flores as she walked inside City Hall, which overlooks Texas and U.S. flags out front and the Mexican flag about a quarter-mile away at the border. This seat of government sits in one of "los dos Laredos," the two Laredos, as locals say -- Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, through which 4.4 million pedestrians, 6.3 million vehicles and 1.4 million trucks pass yearly.
News analysis

The Los Angeles Times: "President's Tough Talk on Border Is an Effort to Mend GOP Fences" (Pun alert!)

The Washington Post:
President Bush once saw the immigration issue as an opportunity to expand the Republican Party by attracting more Hispanic voters with a message of tolerance and inclusion. His nationally televised speech last night was an admission that the issue has now become a problem that, if not managed carefully, could quickly become a historic liability for his party.
The New York Times:
In an effort to placate conservatives, Mr. Bush talked tough about cracking down on immigrants who slip across the United States' long border with Mexico.

But the real theme of his speech was that the nation can be, as he phrased it, "a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time" and that Congress could find a middle ground between deporting illegal immigrants and granting them immediate citizenship.
The Boston Globe:
WASHINGTON -- President Bush last night stood in an unfamiliar place -- the political center -- and tried to persuade people of firm, unyielding principles on both sides to embrace his multi-faceted approach to handling illegal immigration.
The Philadelphia Inquirer (my emphasis):
That was the real message in his Oval Office address last night. His get-tough rhetoric about sending the National Guard to help secure the borders is designed to mollify the conservatives who have been threatening to boycott the 2006 elections because they view him as soft on illegal immigration.

Hence his decision last night to borrow some of the rhetoric of conservative critics. He stated near the top of his speech: "The United States must secure its borders. This is a basic responsibility of a sovereign nation. It is also an urgent requirement of our national security."
Bloomberg News: "Bush Immigration Speech Doesn't Win House Republicans"

The Hartford Courant:
"It shows he wants to act, rather than react," Geer said. "He's defining the agenda and showing what he's willing to support."

But that assessment was one of the night's few positive notes, as Bush appeared to offer little to placate conservatives who want tough border enforcement or the voters who elected him to a second term 18 months ago.

Bush probably did not help himself with those voters because "immigration is just not that hot a national issue," said Paul Levinson, chairman of the Fordham University communication and media studies program. In most American communities, he said, voters confront high gasoline prices every day and, in many, reminders of the war in Iraq - not immigration problems.


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