Intelligence: No Reform is Better Than Bad Reform
By Doug Patton
During President George W. Bush’s first term, I was among his greatest cheerleaders and his toughest critics. I praised his execution of the war on terror while criticizing his education reform package, which was nothing more than a capitulation to Ted Kennedy, and which produced the legislation now known as “No Child Left Behind,” a intrusive bit of federal education expansion despised by Republicans and Democrats alike.
I commended the president’s signing of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, but excoriated him for compromising on the issue of stem cell research.
I applauded his courage for defending traditional marriage by calling for a constitutional amendment that would define wedlock as the union of a man a woman. But I lambasted him for his support of RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) such as former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan for California Governor, U.S. Rep. Greg Ganske for a U.S. Senate seat in Iowa, and incumbent U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania for reelection. These were among the worst political choices the president could have made.
Bush’s tax relief legislation and his willingness to look at a complete overhaul of the tax system could turn out to be the most positive item on his domestic agenda. Conversely, his insistence last year that Congress place on his desk some sort of Medicare reform bill before he entered into an election year could ultimately bankrupt the nation. Reform for its own sake is overrated.
Of course, when it came time to choose between Bush and Democrat John Kerry this year, I supported the president for reelection without hesitation. In fact, I firmly believe that the alternative would have been an unmitigated disaster for America in just about any area one can name.
That said, now that the president has been reelected, it is time for committed conservatives to hold him accountable on the most important issue of the day: illegal immigration. In the United States Congress, a handful of courageous patriots are trying to do just that. On the House side, Congressmen James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin and Duncan Hunter of California are leading a group of Republicans who are adamant that radical change is needed in our border control policy, lest the words “intelligence reform” have no meaning in this post-9/11 world.
Meanwhile, as the national media badgers the president to “strong-arm” Congress to produce an intelligence reform bill, House Speaker Dennis Hastert has made it clear that he does not intend to bring the issue to the floor without strong support from House Republicans. If Sensenbrenner and Hunter are any indication of that support, the White House may have to do a lot of strong-arming to get a bill any time soon. With firebrand House Members like Tom Tancredo of Colorado and Steve King of Iowa siding with Sensenbrenner and Hunter, it seems unlikely that they will compromise in their demand that immigration be a part of any bill dealing with intelligence reform.
Illegal immigration is the one issue that most frustrates the American people, who see their country being invaded at a time when we are supposed to be at war. It is the one issue that could spell disaster for our entire way of life as millions of illegals pour across our borders and disappear into our society. It is the one issue neither presidential candidate wanted to discuss during the recent election campaign. Now, in the aftermath of the 9/11 Commission Report, with pressure mounting for reform, any sort of reform, reform for its own sake, perhaps we can have the debate that should have taken place on September 12, 2001.
Doug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a speechwriter, policy advisor and communications director for federal, state and local candidates, elected officials and public policy organizations. His weekly columns are published in newspapers across the country and on selected Internet websites. Readers can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.