We’re not the biggest Bill O’Reilly fans on earth – he calls himself an independent and tries to maintain some cred in that claim by backing lots of big-government ideas, and it comes off as either dishonest or dumb.
That said, once in a while O’Reilly uncorks a good monologue, and last night was one of his best.
It’s on immigration, and the backlash against Donald Trump for his inartful comments about Mexico and the failure of the federal government to address the problems on the border.
Trump is now leading the polls among Republican presidential contenders, which is a temporary situation but one which has put a good deal of fear through the GOP establishment. It’s not that Trump is a serious presidential candidate; he isn’t. He’s a billionaire blowhard on an ego trip, and he’s promoting his own brand more than he is trying to become president. The Trump boomlet will pass long before the primaries begin, and in all likelihood the only lasting effect he’ll have on the presidential race will be to sweep away much of the second and third tiers of presidential candidates. A Bobby Jindal can’t survive Donald Trump, for example, and neither can a George Pataki or a Ben Carson. It’s worth asking whether Chris Christie can survive it either.
But on the immigration issue, Trump has managed to catch fire for one simple reason – he’s the only Republican with the balls to recognize that our government is abandoning its responsibility to control the border and only let in the immigrants we as a society decide to let in.
That’s not a racist position, by the way, and even though what Trump said in taking it was poorly constructed he wasn’t racist in what he said either. When you look at the prison populations in the border states it’s obvious there are too many criminals coming across that border, and since the plurality of the criminals as well as the immigrants at large happen to be Mexicans there is nothing inherently racist in pinning the plurality share of the problem on Mexico.
It goes without saying that the Mexican government likes the immigration and border-security status quo just fine. Remittances from Mexicans living in America are among the top three “industries” for that country along with oil and tourism; the more of that country’s poor and uneducated who can be exported here and turned into little cash engines for the Mexican economy, the happier they are. And if California and Texas happen to be handling the imprisonment of Mexican criminals rather than Tamaulipas and Coahuila, that’s even better.
Had Trump been more explicit in trashing the Mexican government for its obstinance and profit at America’s expense he still would have been called a racist on Univision, but he would have had a much better narrative. In fact, had he said what he said almost any way other than the way he said it he would have had a much better narrative.
But that doesn’t change the basics – namely, that the sentiment Trump expressed about the border and immigration policy (or the lack thereof) is essentially true. We are entitled as a country to enforce an immigration policy which benefits the American people and protects our legal and governmental systems, and we shouldn’t be knuckling under to special interests or corporate greed in declining to act in our national interest. The American people know this and express it as clearly as we can to our political leaders at every chance we are afforded, and yet they abjectly refuse to listen, and that’s why Trump, despite making the case for a sane immigration system so poorly as to put the majority position at threat of delegitimization, is nevertheless gaining from it.
What’s needed now is for one of the more serious, first-tier GOP candidates to take O’Reilly’s improvement on Trump’s position and begin articulating it clearly. That’s not too much to ask, but for many of them it’s beyond their reach since they don’t sincerely believe in furthering America’s national interest on the border.