Ramsey Clark, Call Your Office


Apparently, there's some chatter on the right about impeaching the president for being too soft on illegal immigrants. It's hard to believe, but some folks out there think Bush isn't enough of a caudillo.

Sorry, did I say "caudillo"? Insert the non-Spanish term of your choice.

Anyway, while I seriously doubt this impeachment talk will go anywhere, the very fact that people are bringing up the I-word says something about the problems Bush has been having with conservatives. As Glenn Greenwald says,

This is a major, major political problem for the White House. The measures which Bush's base demands, the ones necessary to really satisfy them—a huge wall and active deportation—are far too extreme for Bush to embrace. And yet they aren't going to be satisfied without extreme measures. The media loves to talk about how Democrats are being harmed because "the Left" of the party is dragging it towards policies which are too extreme, but the reality is that dynamic is taking place within, and is threatening to drown, the Republican Party. Bush has very few supporters left. The few he has left are demanding that he adopt immigration positions which he clearly opposes and which would alienate most people in the country. And he is far too weak to satisfy them with symbolic measures.

Greenwald also asks, "Nothing in particular has happened on the immigration front, leading to the question of why has this issue taken on such critical importance now?" His theory is that, with 9/11 receding into the past and Iraq becoming more "muddled and ambiguous," immigration offers nationalists an "opportunity to rail against 'appeasement' (of Vincente Fox); to create the anti-terrorist/pro-terrorist dichotomy on which they thrive; and to demonize a clear, foreign enemy as threatening not just our economic prosperity but also our national security (the 'Mexican invaders'). And if the weakened, ready-to-be-tossed aside failure, George Bush, is one of the spineless appeasers this time, so be it."

I'll have to think on that a bit more before I decide how much I agree with it. One point in its favor: It reminds me of one of Charles Alexander's explanations for the nativist and racist sentiment that surged following the first world war:

During the war the American people had been subjected to the first systematic, nationwide propaganda campaign in the history of the Republic. From both official and unofficial sources poured a torrent of material having the objective of teaching Americans to hate—specifically to hate Germans but, more broadly, everything that did not conform to a formalized conception of "100 percent Americanism." In the fall of 1918, just as the indoctrination process was reaching its peak, as patriotic feeling was mounting to frenzy, the war came abruptly to an end. Americans who had stored up an enormous volume of superpatriotic zeal now no longer had an official enemy on whom to concentrate this fervor.

There's several significant differences between then and now, of course—for one thing, this war ain't over—but the parallels are striking.