The Corner

Confused By Today’s NRO Editorial on Immigration

If I understand today’s editorial on immigration correctly, NR’s editors are not endorsing the Senator Johnny Isakson immigration plan, yet are recommending that Senator McCain should endorse the Isakson plan.  With due respect, that seems passing strange.

The editors implicitly acknowledge that the Isakson plan is flawed.  It is committed to the folly of comprehensive reform under the guise of a “guest worker program” — although in a way that is marked improvement over the horrible McCain/Kennedy, Specter and Pence proposals. 

The editorial further observes that Sen. Isakson has come up with a good compromise between the enforcement and amnesty camps.  That may be, but it hardly means the ideal proposal would include an amnesty component.  The fact that the Washington elites want one doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, that the public wants it, or that it’s prudent to compromise on this point.  And indeed, to my knowledge anyway, NR has not recommended compromising on this point.  (If I am wrong about that, I apologize for wasting everyone’s time.)

Now I suppose, if NR had already made up its mind that McCain was the best candidate for the country, it might make some sense to steer him toward a plan that – though not NR’s favored plan – would make McCain more attractive to more conservatives than the undesirable immigration agenda he has pushed to date.  (I could understand the logic of such a strategy even though it’s not one I’d agree with.)  But I don’t understand NR corporately to have endorsed McCain at this point. So why not come up with what we think is the best plan and then argue that any GOP candidate (in fact, any candidate at all) should adopt it on the merits?  

Comprehensive reform is a bad and unnecessary idea — fwiw, I have made that argument, here, other Cornerites make it frequently, and today’s editorial certainly intimates that NR corporately agrees. So why is NR negotiating against itself on policy for the benefit of a candidate to whom it is not committed?  It would seem at this stage that NR would have a greater interest in getting immigration right than in making McCain’s position less unattractive, no?

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