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The Weekend Post: Looking Ahead to Monday’s Speech (With An Update on the Absurdity of “Virtual” Fences.)

Saturday, May 13, 2006  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The DOS attacks of a couple of weeks ago have shattered whatever it is that makes the permalinks work. Joshua S. is working on the problem, but he needs a Chloe. To save you having to scroll down in search of this or that, let me repeat a few things, before getting to the preview of the big speech on Monday. (The radio program will go an extra two hours on Monday to gather reaction to the address.)

The single, best site for vast resources on The DaVinci Hustle is at

(Stand To Reason’s Greg Koukl has a fine take as well.)

Andrew Sullivan allowed his rage at evangelicals and orthodox Catholics to overwhelm his vast talent years ago, but this week he took Time down the same dyspeptic path.

Majority Leader Frist has promised a vote of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit before the Senate breaks for vacation, and has confirmed that commitment.

The Gang of 14’s “deal” is falling apart on the nomination of Judge Boyle, proving that John McCain does indeed get taken by the Dems every time he sits down to negotiate with them.

In their hysterical reaction to the NSA effort to amass call databases, the Dems have again demonstrated to the American electorate that a vote for a Democrat is a vote for a return to
the “hope and prayer” anti-terror policies of the ’90s.

Now to the preview.

The president’s speech on Monday night is a huge moment for him, a rare chance to recapture the momentum on the issue of border security and with it, renew the country’s confidence in his commitment to
national security, a confidence first shaken by the ports deal, and eroded by the long negotiations to form the Iraqi government.

Already the anti-amnesty forces are dismissing the speech as window dressing for the Senate debate to follow, arguing that rumored National Gaurd deployments are temporary and designed only to facilitate the amnesty that isn’t called an amnesty.

The president needs to announce that the Guard will indeed be deployed in support of the Customs and Border personnel, but that the key to lasting border security is the dramatic expansion of border fencing in keeping with the House bill.

He should urge that the Senate adopt the House language in this regard (along with any other language necessary to assure that the construction of the 700 miles of fencing not be subject to any other law that might inhibit the quick start and completion of the projects.)

He must avoid the word “virtual,” as in “virtual fencing.” The White House isn’t surrounded by a “virtual fence,” and voters have no faith in “virtual fences” except as supplemts to the real thing.

If the president comes out early and hard in favor of expanding the fences along the border which have already worked so successfully in urban areas, he will have met the American public where it is with what it demands.

The rest of the president’s speech will not affect its impact one way or the other. The only other details that will resonate widely will be the assurance that no one becomes a citizen without command of English and then only after many years of productive residency in the U.S.

It is all about the fence because it is all about security, the next 11 or 12 million, not the 11 or 12 million already here.

A great speech will tie this concern about security and the fencing security requires into the NSA program(s) much debated in recent days and months, as well as the economic security brought about by the tax cuts past and present (and future), coupled with spending restraint.

The big close should be twofold. First, the announcement of the nomination of two score judges to replenish the federal bench, a demand that the Senate act quickly on these nominations, and a commitment to require –as he has of these nominees– only what every oath sworn by every official requires: A commitment to uphold the laws of the United States.

Following that announcement, a congratulations to the new government in Iraq that is forming, and a thanks to the troops that have delivered the Iraqi people a genuine government, the sort of government that will bring the stability the region needs. A few words about the patience and sacrifice required for real security, the sort of patience and sacrificie that marked the immigrants that brought his forebears and almost all of ours to these shores, and which still marks the newly arrived to this country.

In short, the president can put the agenda he has built back at the center of the political and policy debate:

Win the war.
Confirm the judges.
Cut the taxes.
Control the spending.
Secure the border.

And he can do so in the context of the overarching themes of his presidency: Confidence in the goodness of the American people and the greatness of the country’s calling.

UPDATE: Powerline points me to a piece by the New York Post’s Deborah Orin on the outline of the president’s speech Monday night.

Pray that she’s wrong. The use by the president of the term “virtual fence” is in fact a declaration against the realthing, and it would undo every bit of good he intends to accomplish via the address.

Faced with suspicion fromhis base that he really doesn’t intend to enforce the border, the president simply can’t proclaim a “virtual fence” as a substitute for the real thing and expect people to treat it as a serious attempt to satisfy border security advocates.

I hope someone in the White House is at this very minute asking “why not a real fence,” and refusing to accept nonsense answers about symbolism in a time of war.

If an when the fence around the White House is taken down, voters will start believing invirtual fences. Don’t ask them to accept absurdity as policy.

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