President Bush did exactly what he had to do tonight: Hit the middle, agreeing to the fence, to a large increase in Border Patrol personnel and funding, tamper-proof identification, National Guard back-up of ICE for at least a year, the end of catch-and-release, blunt talk on the impossibility of mass deportation, an insistence on English, and a commitment to a guest worker program that will take pressure off enforcement by funneling large numbers of immigrant workers into the legal line.
Now the Senate needs to add specifics (especially on the fence) and get to the conference committee asap. There is no excuse for delay.
UPDATE: My interview with Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Julie Myers staggered me, undoing in a handful of minutes my confidence in the president’s commitment to border security first. Either the president’s team had not communicated effectively with sub-cabinet appointees about the fence, or the president doesn’t really believe in the fence, because Assistant Secretary Myers is clearly not a proponent of the fence.
Memo to Tony Snow: The blogosphere/talk radio callers/e-mailers are turning against this speech in a decisive fashion. They simply do not believe the Administration is really committed to border enforcement, and the spokespeople sent out to back up the president’s message aren’t doing that job. Period.
It is all about the fence. The real fence.
UPDATE 2 (6:32 PM Pacific): That Sinking Feeling.
Just got an e-mail from the RNC eCampaign touting my post as a sign that the president’s speech went over well. Obviously the RNC’s blog patrol did not check back after the interview with Julie Myers.