John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Rubio is Right. National Review? Not So Much.

Posted on May 2, 2013

The National Review attacked Marco Rubio for his efforts on immigration reform today.

I have long been a fan of the National Review.

When I was in college, I would read the National Review to annoy the teachers.  I had friends and mentors who wrote for the iconic magazine. I drew inspiration from William Buckley, who was the Godfather of the conservative movement. And you will always be entertained when you pick up a copy of the magazine.

Buckley broke with several conservatives when he came out in favor of legalizing drugs and when he expressed some real doubts about the Iraq war.  But that was a while ago, when the conservative magazine marketplace wasn’t very crowded.

Now that publishing niche is very crowded indeed.  Weekly Standard has been siphoning off some of its readers.  Daily Caller has become the American political version of the Daily Mail (you can always get a link to the hottest pictures of the hottest female starts on the Caller).  And of course, the Drudge Report, the conservative news aggregator is the king of all things conservative.

Competition requires that the National Review become more outrageous just to get noticed in this suddenly competitive space.  Sadly, at times, the NR decides that the best way to get attention is to attack one of their own.

They did this today when they attacked Marco Rubio for his efforts on immigration reform.  Rubio is not the only Republican who wants this legislation passed, and he is not the only conservative.  Jeff Flake, a former Tea Party star, is also a member of the Gang of Eight, and all kinds of conservative groups are pushing for this bill.  Grover Norquist, for example, the bête noire of all liberals, is a strong supporter of the Rubio bill.

Now the fact that Rubio is not standing alone on this is inconvenient for the National Review, so inconvenient that they airbrushed other conservatives out of the picture that it featured on its cover today.

Besides being deceitful in the creation of the magazine cover, the NR staff is being disingenuous on its accusations about Rubio’s motives and what is actually in the bill.

They say that Rubio is only doing this for “political reasons”,  but he has never argued that we need to do immigration reform for political reasons. In fact, he's pushed back against that logic in numerous forums, including on Rush Limbaugh's show. He's doing it because he thinks the status quo is bad for America.

They say that Rubio has lied about the bill, but that is not true.   The accusation that Marco somehow misled people ahead of the bill's release is really disingenuous. I can't find a single statement that was false (and, in fact they don't point to anything specific). All he ever promised was that the security stuff would be a huge improvement over the status quo, and it is.

They say that the bill will unleash the flood gates of new immigrations,  In fact, the bill does not provide for a "huge increase in legal immigration".   The bottom-line is that the future size of the population inside US is not significantly impacted by this legislation.

The law currently lets 1 million people immigrate here legally every year;  the new bill continues that number in the long-term.   Yes, it bring legal status to the 11 million that are currently here and never leaving.   But guess what?  They were never leaving.

The only increase in legal immigration is clearing out the current backlog of about 5 happen people waiting to enter the country over the next 10 years.  That has to happen if we are going to say that we are going to fix the system.

The NR believes that the Administration will never enforce the law.   That is a legitimate reason to hate this White House, but not a legitimate reason to be against this bill.    Besides, most of the border triggers happen after Barack Obama is well on his way back to Chicago.   A casual reader of this piece would think that Obama will be president forever.  If that happens, this country has far bigger problems than passing immigration reform.

The Rubio-Flake compromise is a huge victory because it ties border security to the pathway to citizenship, something bitterly opposed by the Obama White House.   And it has many other victories for conservatives, the most prominent of which is ending a situation where 11 million people are forced to live in a shadowy world, afraid to participate fully in pursuit of the American dream.    A world that has more respect for the rule of law is a world that is better for conservatives who care about social order and upward mobility.

I understand why the National Review wants to attract more readers to their magazine.  But attacking Marco Rubio is not the right way to make this happen.   Rubio is right on immigration.  National Review?  Not so much.

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