There are two types of old Jews sitting around Florida medical offices, the ones who gripe all day about the care and those who good-naturedly tell each other doctor jokes. One classic that made more rounds than any intern tells about Sam, who goes to the top-of-the-line specialist for a consultation. The doctor asks a thousand dollars for the visit, but Sam bombards him with sob stories until he agrees to take five hundred. “If you can’t afford to pay, why choose the most expensive doctor?” asks the exasperated medico. “Doc,” Sam explains. “When it comes to my health, money is no object.”
The Republican experience in Washington is a political version of this gag. If you want to cut a $50 billion boondoggle program you need to buy the votes. Two billion here, three there; before you know it, you have bought the forty missing votes for a hundred billion. When it comes to cost-cutting in Washington, money is no object. So people like you and me who prefer trimmer budgets are doomed always to experience some degree of disappointment.
But after making allowances for this disturbing reality, the fact is that the Republican Congress, the House of Representatives in particular, has done fine work lately and deserves to be rewarded with reelection. Once voters get over their sticker shock, they would be well advised to stick with the program, perhaps shocking the mainstream media in the process.
Various bills concerning homeland security have passed this year. These included giving the President funds to conduct the peace-qua-war in Afghanistan and Iraq while fashioning systems for limited eavesdropping and coercive questioning of known terrorists. Ve haff ways of making you talk,,, and hearing you talk. Conversely, when the Administration went wobbly on Dubai, it was the breeze from the Hill that blew the deal away.
They also pushed through a nice gun-control-control bill which I duly celebrated in these pages. It prevents various busybody government bodies from busily confiscating legally owned private firearms in the states of emergency in states struck by natural disasters.
Most important of all, the House passed an immigration bill expressing the principle of “Enforcement First.” Birds who fly into our coop and say “I am nesting” get no amnesty. Employers who paper over workers without paperwork cannot push the envelope. Any contrary band of contraband smugglers will be contraindicated and disbanded. Instead of boarders we will have borders.
This was a very difficult stand to maintain, because they had to stand up to, and stand down, three disparate powers. One, the President, who consistently took the view that such concerns were too parochial. Two, the Senate, which in fact passed an omnibus obscenity that did everything for illegals short of beatification. The House actually killed the Senate bill in conference, a rare occurrence. Three, the Democrats, who never met a law they wanted to enforce unless it involves stopping educational literature from being handed out near abortion clinics.
Who were the House Republicans fighting for on immigration? You and me. This was a true instance of the republic operating precisely as envisaged by its founders. The citizen representatives embodied the will of the people and courageously withstood all the carrot-blandishing and stick-brandishing by parties with narrower interests. This may not have been the floruit of the Republican Congress; they may not floor it full speed ahead on their agenda; but on the House floor, it was a time of significant achievement.
It is easy to point out shortcomings and shortfalls, but in the long run that is short-sighted. Anyone who takes the long view will not sell them short. The long-term perspective is that they are entitled to another term. If they draw the short straw, we will bear the burden in the long haul. And that, my friends, is the long and the short of it.
Particularly their heroic stand on immigration must be acknowledged. In such a circumstance, it is critical that their fealty be rewarded. Like the old Jew desperately trying to find a parking space in downtown Miami so he can make his appointment with the specialist. After circling dense streets for a half-hour, he cries out in desperation: “God, if You get me a space I will keep kosher and observe the Sabbath.” He turns the corner and, miraculously, an open spot is waiting. “Skip it, God,” he says. “I just found one on my own.”
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