The Journal Editorial Report | December 2, 2005 | PBS
December 2, 2005
California Minutemen volunteers T.S. McMullen and Stewart, right, look over the border wall for immigrants trying to cross into the United States August 4, 2005 along the U.S.-Mexico Border in Campo Calif. The group said it has been watching parts of the California Border in an attempt to stem the flow of illegal immigration and possible terrorist suspects trying to get into the United States. (AP/Sandy Huffaker)
JASON RILEY: It's the federal government's job to control our borders and clearly the federal government isn't getting the job done ... Now the question is what we should do about it and so the president now wants to try something new, the guest worker program...He wants us to know who's coming. And provided that most of these people are coming for jobs, if we give them more legal ways to come those people will use those legal ways to come here. And that means our border security can concentrate on a smaller pool of people who are coming here to do us harm, instead of chasing down the dishwashers and the busboys.
PAUL GIGOT: What about the Energy Bill moving through Congress. President Bush cites time and again that this is going to be a solution to our gasoline price problem.
KIM STRASSEL: This thing just gets uglier every time that Congress deals with it. As far as I can see, at least the Senate bill, it's just going to raise prices for consumers in the short term.
STEPHEN MOORE: This is deja vu all over again for those of us who lived through the late '70s, the last time we saw the spike in oil. It's almost as if George Bush has hired Jimmy Carter as his energy czar.
GIGOT: Kim, you wouldd think with $60 dollar, $3 gasoline, this was a time when we'd be able to get drilling in Alaska, drilling on the outer Continental Shelf. And yet, no. What's happening?
STRASSEL: I think every time Congress meets on energy it gets a little bit uglier. They passed a bill that if anything is going to raise prices for Americans. This was back earlier in the year. And now they've had a couple of opportunities. The House got together and finally passed something that would expand our refinery capacity, went to the Senate, and one Republican managed to hold that up. Meanwhile, the Senate for the first time in years manages to pass authorization to drill in ANWAR and the House, which had passed it five times previously, couldn't manage to pass it. So we are no closer to having higher but greater energy supplies than we were years ago.
GIGOT: And Republicans are divided on immigration.
MOORE: Boy, are they. This is a really tough issue for the president. But I think he is finally got it right, Paul. In a speech last week he basically said what we need to do is more border enforcement, which is very popular, a guest worker program so that businesses can get the workers that they need, and then something that would be a sort of pro-assimilation, because Americans want the immigrants to become Americans and to assimilate into our culture. If he can pull that off, this would be quite a political coup.
GIGOT: Nothing serious on the domestic side is going to happen, particularly with anything that the president wants, unless he can get that approval rating back up to 50 percent, or close. That means he has got to win, or be seen by the public to be prevailing, in Iraq.
JASON RILEY: The big picture that I see here is this is all evidence of the left trying to push their agenda through the courts, because they've been unable to do so to the legislature, because they can't win elections. And if the left really has a problem with who Bush is nominating, they should start winning elections.
MELANIE KIRKPATRICK: What does the election mean last November if it doesn't mean that the president has the right to appoint his own judges, and the Senate, a Republican Senate, can't confirm them?
PAUL GIGOT: What happens if, down the road, as inevitably will happen, Republicans are in the minority, they decide they want to filibuster a liberal president's nominee? They won't have the filibuster to use, will they?
DAN HENNINGER: No, they may not. I think they have to make that calculation, whether the stakes here are high enough to take that risk. And I personally think the stakes are high enough.
GIGOT: Dan, John Roberts confirmed 78 votes. So far at least Sam Alito looks like he is going to be confirmed, albeit with fewer votes. No more talk of filibusters. Why the relatively easy time?
HENNINGER: I do have a theory about this, and it has to do with what Sam Alito and John Roberts represent in public. They go before these Congressional committees, and they talk about their judicial philosophy, the way they arrive at opinions. And the way they arrive at their decisions is to look at the law, this is called originalism, reason through it, and arrive at a decision. The Democratic philosophy has been to identify a result and find a way to that result. It's kind of result first, logic later. And I think Alito and Roberts are such articulate guys that when they go up there in public and describe the way they practice from the bench, that it strikes the American people as eminently reasonable. It's a hard thing to oppose.
GIGOT: Yeah, I think there's such strong and superbly qualified nominees, also, that you really can't bring into doubt their credentials -- in contrast to Harriet Miers, who was challenged immediately by the president's own base on precisely those grounds, credentials.
STRASSEL: The president, that was a classic example of him not listening to his base, and Alito now has incredible support. But this is also an issue of Democrats realizing that this isn't necessarily a political winner. They certainly managed to gain a lot of headway on some of the appeals court nominees, because Americans by and large don't pay as much attention to that. But the Supreme Court is a different issue. And when it came down to it, there were a lot of red state Democratic senators who were looking at the elections next year, and they know that their voters were paying attention to this, and did they really want to vote against the President's nominee for the Supreme Court? They decided "no"in the end.
GIGOT: Yeah, I think there are a lot of red state Democrats who understand that they don't want to fight over cultural issues, because they thought that the election in 2004 -- one of their lessons of that election was that it was settled in large part, in part at least, in their state, on these cultural matters: gay marriage, abortion.
MOORE: The difference is that we have been talking about some of the things Bush has done wrong, but it may very well be that of all the things that we've talked about in this presidency, that the legacy 20 or 30 years from now are going to be Roberts and Alito. That is a pretty good legacy if they turn out as well as we think they are.
GIGOT: Well ...
POLLOCK: This is going back to the Miers pick. I would say the mistake the president made there is, while he has wide latitude in making appointments, the pick at least has to be plausible. What he did was make it impossible for his strongest defenders to go out and make the case that this is the best person. I assume that's a lesson learned now.
HENNINGER: And on the very positive side, he adjusted, he changed, and he responded to the base for the first time. It was a wake-up call. I think that, going forward, is going to be a good thing.