Commentary: Here's how Bush can recover from his decline

One of the reasons I prefer to be known as a conservative and not a Republican is that Republicans too often compromise their ideals, hoping the Left will like them. It never works. The Left despises them anyway and, in the end, they've sold out ...

One of the reasons I prefer to be known as a conservative and not a Republican is that Republicans too often compromise their ideals, hoping the Left will like them. It never works. The Left despises them anyway and, in the end, they've sold out for nothing.

Perhaps this explains the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey that finds that just 37 percent of Americans approve of President Bush's job performance. Sixty percent disapprove. That disapproval is up 2 percent and the approval is down 2 percent from last month's survey. The survey reveals that the depth of dislike for the president has increased substantially in the last six months with 17 percent disliking him a little (16 percent disliked him a little six months ago), 27 percent disliking him a lot (up from 13 percent) and 6 percent hating him (a 4 percent increase). Considering that 57 percent approved of his job performance after his State of the Union Address last January, the decline ought to trouble him.

What he needs, in addition to visible progress in winding down the war in Iraq and fostering a stable government that can take care of the insurgents, is an issue that will re-energize his base and show that his administration is still relevant. That issue should be immigration.

In light of the pictures we have seen of the rioting in France, the president should re-shape his immigration policy from one that works best for immigrants, to one that protects the life and culture of the majority (for now) of us.

Paul Weyrich, chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation and one of the substantive brains behind the modern conservative movement, recently wrote in an e-mail: "On no issue have a Republican administration and a Republican House and Senate more blatantly or more cynically sold out the conservative movement and our country than on immigration." He calls the Bush administration's proposal for "guest workers," which is nothing more than amnesty for illegal immigrants and encouragement for more to come, "a scandal and a disgrace."


Weyrich wants to look beyond the Bush administration, while still trying to make use of it whenever possible to advance conservative causes. "The next conservatism," he writes, "needs to recognize that when it comes to immigration policy neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are our friends. ... The Democrats want open borders because most of them are cultural Marxists. The Republicans agree because Wall Street wants cheap labor. The next conservatism should not be in Wall Street's pocket. Our country is more important than their profits."

No votes should be bought at the price of destroying what attracts so many to our shores. History, language, culture and faith are at the center of what it means to be an American. These are rapidly being watered down and compromised to meet the needs of those coming here, often illegally. Does pluralism mean we have to relinquish what made us great? Surely that is too high a price.

Conservatives, and the Bush administration, if it wants to save itself, should get behind the TRUE Enforcement and Border Security Act introduced by Representatives Duncan Hunter, California Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Virgil Goode, Virginia Republican.

The bill seeks to deter illegal immigration by enforcing laws that sanction employers for hiring illegals, ends the automatic citizenship for children of illegals born in America (this might also take some constitutional reinterpretation by the Supreme Court), and removes other incentives for people who would break our laws. If the Bush administration and Republican members of Congress fail to support this measure, it will show how empty their rhetoric is on the subject and give conservatives plenty of time to find candidates for office who do support it before the next two elections.

Supporting real immigration reform would surely raise the president's job approval rating, especially if he explained it as a national security and cultural issue that gets to the heart of our identity.

Paul Weyrich said it best: "As conservatives, we need to make it clear that we will not vote for any candidate who refuses to close our borders to illegal immigration and cut back on legal immigration, at least until we can acculturate the immigrants we already have."

Are you listening, Mr. President? Are you listening Republican Party? If not, those approval numbers can still go lower and the disapproval numbers higher.

Cal Thomas's e-mail is at .

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