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From my new column:

Journalists always like to say they write “the first draft of history,” but, really, there are three drafts. And it’s the middle one, in between Breaking News and History, where the worst distortions creep in. Between the raw feed and the history books, journalists quickly simplify the immense complexity of events into stock clichés that can go unchallenged for decades. For example, by 1992 the press had rewritten the 1988 election around Willie Horton.

Likewise, it will probably take one to two generations before historians can cut through the rewrites to understand the fundamental dynamics of the last decade. Why did the Bush Administration waste eight years on Immigration, Invasion, and Indebtedness? Why did it encourage Mexicans to illegally immigrate to America by calling for amnesty? What was Karl Rove thinking when he tried and failed in four different years (2001, 2004, 2006, and 2007) to shove through amnesty and guest worker legislation?

With Rove’s boss, George W. Bush, the question is less of a puzzle. I suspect that minimizing the border between Mexico and America was Bush’s personal passion, while Rove just thought they were being clever.

Striking a deal with Mexico was traditional Bush family business, going back at least to 1960 when George H. W. Bush’s Zapata Off-Shore oil company formed a partnership with Jorge Diaz Serrano to sneak around Mexico’s ban on foreign involvement in its oil industry. (Diaz Serrano later became head of Pemex, the Mexican oil monopoly, and then went to prison for corruption.)

Further integration of the U.S. and Mexican economies was naturally attractive for the Bushes. The senior Bush negotiated NAFTA and encouraged Mexican president Carlos Salinas to turn public monopolies such as the phone system into private monopolies (a policy which has made Carlos Slim the richest man in the world). Yet, in NAFTA, Mexico withheld from privatization its crown jewel monopoly, Pemex.

Business and immigration all blended together for the younger Bush, which is why his 2001 plan was to have his Secretary of State negotiate an immigration deal with Vicente Fox’s Foreign Minister. In his 1995 New York Times op-ed, No Cheap Shots at Mexico, Please, then-Governor Bush warned Republicans off from the immigration issue by holding forth on the profits to be made from further integration with Latin America:

“Mexico is proving to be a strong economic friend. Our economic bond with Mexico carries with it some very positive long-term results. An isolated United States will not be able to compete successfully in a world economy where Europe and Asia are united into common-market partnerships. The trade agreement wisely affords our country the opportunity to join forces with Canada and our neighbors to the south—first Mexico, then Chile, then other emerging capitalist countries in Latin America.”

On the personal side, George and Barbara Bush employed a live-in Mexican maid, Paula Rendon, of whom W. has said, “I have come to love her like a second mother.” He went on to employ another Mexican immigrant, Maria Galvan, to raise his two daughters. Younger brother Jeb married a Mexican girl, Columba Garnica, who had spent some years as an illegal immigrant in California.

Jeb and Columba’s son, George P. Bush, was such a natural politician and heir to the Bush dynasty that W., who nicknamed his father “41″ (for being the 41st President) and himself “43,” called his nephew “44.”

So, from 43’s dynastic perspective, electing a new people in order to keep electing Bushes to the White House all made a certain grandiose, demented sense.

Yet, for Rove, who was supposed to be the brains of the operation, the motivations are murkier —other than sheer submissiveness toward his willful boss.

Let’s run through the possibilities:

Read the rest there and comment upon it here.

• Tags: Bush, Illegal Immigration, Rove 
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Excerpts from my new column:

Karl Rove, “The Architect” of George W. Bush’s campaigns and domestic policy, has been one of the central figures of this puzzling century. No single adviser has been more closely linked to a President since Henry Kissinger served Richard Nixon. For most of the last decade, Rove defined the official Republican line, stomping alternative conservative viewpoints into obscurity. And it all ended in catastrophe.

So, is Rove’s autobiography, Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight, the first memoir from a true Bush insider, enlightening about what went wrong?

Answer: yes—but mostly in an unintended way. …

Rove devotes a moderate amount of space to describing his feelings, which are mostly hurt. People have said a lot of unkind things about Karl Rove over the years, and—he wants you to know—they’ve left him feeling sorry for himself. …

Thus, we are informed that Rove has been hurt:

* by his unstable mother (who never got around to telling him that her husband wasn’t his biological father);

* by pit bull prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald (who investigated him for years in the rather exiguous Valerie Plame case);

* by Democrats; and

* by the Main Stream Media.

Among the MSM’s many transgressions, it accused Rove’s beloved adoptive father of being gay. Rove pushes back against this notion by telling us more than I, personally, cared to know about his mom and dad’s sex life.

Perhaps the best anecdote in the book concerns Rove’s first (and last) marriage counseling session with his first wife (p. 53):

“The assistant rector of Palmer Episcopal Church turned blandly to Val to ask if she would like to say anything. She said, ‘Yes.’ She then looked at me and blurted out, ‘I don’t love you. I’ve never loved you. I never will love you. And I don’t see any purpose in this.’ With that, she walked out. The room seemed frozen in silence. Then the assistant rector exhaled deeply, looked at me, and said, ‘Well, that about says it all,’ and closed the portfolio holding his pad and pen.”

(There’s no hint in Rove’s manuscript, which presumably was finished several months ago, of his December 29, 2009 divorce from his second wife.)

Rove’s feelings appear to have been hurt most frequently of all by George W. Bush.

There’s something a little creepy about Rove’s glowing memory of the first time he laid eyes on W. on November 21, 1973 (p. 39):

“George W. Bush walked through the front door, exuding more charm and charisma than is allowed by law. He had on his Air National Guard flight jacket, jeans, and boots. I introduced myself and we chatted about nothing for a few minutes.”

In Courage and Consequence, Rove vociferously eulogizes the greatness of George W. Bush. And yet Rove slips in dozens of small examples of Bush being hurtful, such as nicknaming Rove “Turd Blossom”.

A recurrent drumbeat in the book is Bush’s peevishness when tired (and he seems to tire quickly). Rove’s memoir has a bit of the flavor of a battered wife who ostentatiously defends her husband, partly out of affection and partly to draw sympathy to herself.


• Tags: Politics, Rove 
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Matt Latimer, a former Bush speechwriter, in the Washington Post:

Yet Bush’s advisers, particularly Karl Rove, exerted enormous pressure on him to go out every day to talk about anything — even if no one was listening. Each year, for example, we were asked to produce three entirely separate statements to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day. And we crafted remarks for so many Hispanic-themed ceremonies that the president finally stood up in the Oval Office and told his speechwriters, “No más.”

The Hispanic-themed comments were an outgrowth of the administration’s all-out push for comprehensive immigration reform. As the president’s proposal became more controversial, Rove — on one of his over-caffeinated days — persuaded Bush to give speech after speech, each time hoping that somehow they’d find the magic words to turn things around. Bush, who when given a moment to collect his thoughts could be a persuasive speaker, was talking so often that his words on the subject lost their presidential heft. Critics noted that his message seemed muddied and his arguments contradictory or confusing.

Well, when you are trying to put a giant swindle over on American voters, the best you can hope for is that your message comes across as muddied, contradictory, and confusing.

• Tags: Bush, Illegal Immigration, Rove 
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Here’s an excerpt in which I uncharacteristically show some sympathy for Karl Rove and George Bush from my new column:

It’s important to fully understand why the lessons the two Texans, Rove and Bush, learned in their home state didn’t apply in other heavily Hispanic states.

So far, the mortgage meltdown hasn’t been as bad in Texas as in the four Sand States” (as they were known on Wall Street during the Bubble): California, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida. These are home to half of the foreclosures and a large majority of the defaulted mortgage money.

Partly this is due to the Oil Bubble, which now appears to be ending. Oil prices over $100 per barrel kept the Texas economy strong in 2008, allowing debtors to avoid foreclosure.

Also, the enormous amount of land and the lack of environmental restrictions on home development in Texas means that when the federal government stimulates demand, the supply of housing increases quickly as well, keeping housing prices reasonable.

Finally, what Rove and Bush missed was how different was Texas’s economic and immigration history over the last three decades relative to the seemingly similar Sand States. Due to OPEC’s oil price increases in the 1970s, Texas experienced a huge construction boom thirty years ago. That mostly attracted construction workers from the rest of the U.S. rather than from Mexico, because Mexico was simultaneously experiencing its own oil boom following massive new discoveries.

When oil prices collapsed in 1982, the economies of Texas and Mexico slumped simultaneously. The big wave of post-1982 unemployed illegal aliens therefore headed for California rather than for Texas.

That’s why San Antonio had “surprisingly low levels” of immigration from 1965 to 2000, according to the important new book quantitatively comparing Mexican-Americans in San Antonio and Los Angeles in 1965 and 2000, Generations of Exclusion, by sociologists associated with the UCLA Chicano Studies Program.

The 2000 Census found that California’s foreign-born population (26 percent of all residents) was almost twice as large as Texas’s (14 percent).

As Texans, Rove and Bush apparently just couldn’t understand the quantity and quality of the immigration situation in the other heavily Hispanic states. In 2000, Texas had a large but fairly well-rooted, stable, and assimilated Mexican-American population that had a reasonable potential to make enough money in resource-extraction or other blue-collar jobs to afford to buy Texas’s cheap houses.

In sharp contrast, California had a huge and mostly new, ill-educated, and unassimilated Mexican-American population that didn’t have even a chance of making enough money in Silicon Valley or Hollywood to afford California’s already expensive houses.

And Nevada, Arizona, and Florida were more like California than they were like Texas. [More]

So, who are the bad guys here: Texans or Californians? That’s what people always want to know: who’s the bad guy and who is the good guy?

The point is that our country’s two biggest states are just very different, and much of that has its roots in their very different terrain.

For example, everybody in California would prefer to live near the Pacific because the climate and scenery are so nice. In contrast, in Texas (and the other Gulf of Mexico coastal states), the threat of hurricanes means people tend to prefer to live inland. Galveston used to be the dominant port of Texas’s coast, until the hurricane of 1900 drowned 6000 people, after which Houston (45 miles inland and 45 feet above sea level) became the main metropolis. So, Affordable Family Formation works better in Texas than in California.

This doesn’t make Texans or Californians good or evil, it just makes them different. And because the two states between them account for 60 million people, it’s crucial that Americans get a better grip on the differences between the two states.

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David Axelrod has built Barack Obama’s campaign around the old 1968 Nixon slogan of “Bring Us Together,” rhetorically running against Karl Rove’s central idea that you only need 51 percent to win.

The funny thing is, of course, that Obama will likely wind up winning with just 51% over Hillary Clinton. In Presidential primary campaigns, the leader normally pulls away due to the bandwagon effect, but Obama has been content to eke out the narrowest victory in recent primary history. He hasn’t done a thing to reach out substantively to white voters worried about his long track record as a racial activist.

Obama tried to lie and bloviate his way out of his first Rev. Wright jam, so Wright went on his little media tour to set the record straight, finally getting Obama to defriend him by saying Obama’s “a politician.” Moreover, Obama has refused to compromise on any race-related issue. So, he’s stuck at 51%.

But, guess what? Karl Rove was right. You only need 51%.

And Axelrod/Obama know it’s really not hard to get 51% with these opponents. It’s not like Germany in 1914, where they’ve got to beat France and Russia (plus any of their friends who tag along). Obama isn’t running against FDR and Reagan, he’s running against a proven screw-up in HillaryCare and the elderly Arizona Jones.

• Tags: 2008 Election, Obama, Rove 
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From my new column “Rove Means Never Having to Say You’re Republican,” I review my six years of pointing out the widely acclaimed “Genius’s” flagrant incompetence:

Even merely as a short-term political manipulator, Rove completely botched the immigration issue. And it’s not as if our criticism of the electoral logic of the Bush-Rove dream of increasing Mexican immigration was only recently validated. Instead, Bush and Rove advanced their desire for more Mexicans in 2001, 2004, 2006, and 2007. And each time Congressional Republicans rejected it as bad for the country and bad for the GOP.

As I wrote back on September 10, 2001 (!!!) in the wake of strong Congressional resistance to the Administration’s immigration mania:

“So why did Karl Rove and the rest of the Bush braintrust misread the political situation? Why did the White House fail to anticipate Congressional Republicans’ concerns that amnesty would undermine the GOP? The Bush team appears to have been the victims of residing in an echo chamber with a mainstream media corps that—for reasons of innumeracy, fashion, self-interest, self-image and fear—failed to challenge the Bush advisers’ sloppy thinking about immigration.” [Analysis: Why Bush blundered on immigrants By Steve Sailer, United Press International September 10, 2001]

Luckily for Rove and Bush—there’s no other way to put it—3,000 Americans were murdered the next day. So the massive public humiliation of having Republicans in Congress decisively crush their dreams of a Hispanicized polity that would elect future generations of the Bush dynasty was postponed for six long, wasted years.

Rove’s immigration strategy, along with the assumption in the press that it was a political masterstroke, was always based on the interaction of political correctness, smugness, and sheer laziness.

David Frum wrote recently in the New York Times:

“In my brief service as a speechwriter inside the Bush administration, I often wondered why it was that skeptical experts on issues like immigration could never get even a hearing for their point of view. We took the self-evident brilliance of our plans so much for granted that we would not even meet, for example, with conservative academics who had the facts and figures to demonstrate the illusion of Rovian hopes for a breakthrough among Hispanic voters.” [Building a Coalition, Forgetting to Rule, August 14, 2007]

The real problem for the GOP is less Hispanic voters than Hispanic leaders—92 percent of all elected Hispanic politicians are Democrats.

The reason for the 92% Democrats is obvious if you stop and think about it (which apparently nobody does): since most Hispanic citizens vote Democratic, most Hispanic-majority districts in the country are Democratic. And those are the ones in which Hispanics are most probable to get elected. So, it makes all the sense in the world for politically ambitious young Hispanics to join the party that’s more likely to get them elected to office: the Democrats.

So, what Bush and Rove have been doing by not enforcing the immigration laws is helping create a new Democratic Latino elite that will plague the GOP for decades.

As politics, Rove’s immigration ploy was negligent at the levels of simple logic and numeracy. [More]

• Tags: Immigration, Politics, Rove 
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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