Levin 1, Wehner 0

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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Levin 1, Wehner 0: Peter Wehner, in a dispute with Mark Levin, claims that George W. Bush was being Reaganesque when he proposed his “comprehensive” amnesty plan:

Let’s start with illegal immigration. Levin has excoriated Bush for being weak on illegal immigration — but Reagan, at least by the Levin standard, was far weaker. Reagan, after all, signed a bill granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, something Bush never supported. And in a 1984 campaign debate, Reagan went so far as to say, “I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally.”

Levin responds:

The point being that despite the 1986 law and its failure, Bush proceeded to quadruple down on Reagan’s amnesty with an even more dramatic and thorough amnesty bill, even though the experience and knowledge gained from the 1986 law should have informed Bush to act otherwise. …  

Advantage, Levin. Even if you don’t believe the seemingly apocryphal stories about Reagan regretting the 1986 bill, it clearly failed. (The amnesty part worked. The border enforcement part was blocked.) It’s one thing to say Reagan supported this policy the first time. It’s another to claim he would have supported making the same mistake a second time–and that this is the “conservative” approach. … P.S.: It’s particularly disingenuous for Wehner to claim that Bush “never supported” a Reagan-like “amnesty.” The main difference between Reagan’s approach and Bush’s is that Reagan was honest enough to call it what it was (“amnesty”).  Bush and his apparatchiks preferred poll-tested confections like “path to citizenship.” …  Also, Bush’s amnesty was bigger. …