Thursday, June 08, 2006

Noonan on Immigration Politics

PEGGY NOONAN has an interesting commentary on politicians and the immigration issue:
"A thought today about complexity and politics.

The American people right now are not in a mood to trust any political plan, proposal or policy that seems complicated--highly involved, technical, full of phased-in elements and glide paths and Part C's.

They are against complexity not because they don't think life is complex. They know it's complex. They know it because they live it every day. They assume public policy issues are also complicated. They know there are facts they don't know, which probably have to be factored in as policy is developed. But more and more they recoil from complicated, lengthy, abstruse proposals.


Because they think--they assume, at this point, reflexively--that slithery, slippery professional politicians are using and inventing complications to obfuscate and confuse. They think politicians are using complexity to create great clouds in which they can make their escape, like a cartoon character, like Road Runner.

They think modern politicians hide in complexity. They think politicians evade responsibility with it. We can't do the right thing, it's too complicated! Americans don't trust 'comprehensive plans,' because they don't trust the comprehensive planners.

This, I think, is the essential problem with Congress's immigration proposals. All the phased-in-partial-assimilation-glide-paths-to-guest-worker-status stuff seems like a big 500-page con. It's all too complicated to be understood by anyone who's not a tenured political science professor with a second degree in accounting.

What people will trust, and understand, is this: We will close the border tomorrow, and then figure it out from there."
I agree with her that many of our fearless leaders in Washington hide behind assertions of "complex" issues. I'm not so sure she is correct in suggesting that people see the assertions of complexity for what they really are.

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