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:
March 22, 2010
From my new VDARE.com column: