May 22, 2007

It’s usually pretty easy to tell when the president really cares about an issue. Bush, when he feels like it’s worth his effort, will devote a lot of time to something important to him, he’ll hold sycophant-only public events to talk up his policy, he’ll even come up with little smears and taunts for those who dare to disagree.

With this in mind, Dan Froomkin raised a really good point this afternoon: “Has Bush Given Up on Immigration?”

The much-anticipated immigration compromise cobbled together last week by the White House and a bipartisan group of senators isn’t going anywhere without a lot of aggressive campaigning by the president. But where is President Bush? Not exactly out on the hustings.

Where’s the full-court press? Where’s the barnstorming? Where are the famous White House theatrics?

The current legislation has almost nothing but enemies. Even tacit supporters acknowledge the bill’s many “imperfections.” The White House may have helped put this deal together, but if Bush wants it to pass, he’s going to have to work for it. But by all indications, he doesn’t want to.

This isn’t just symptomatic of the president’s inherent avoidance of hard work. When it comes to his Iraq policy, Bush will give enthusiastic speeches, host townhall gatherings, appear in the media, and use his Bully Pulpit. In 2005, he gave Social Security privatization the same treatment.

But when it comes to immigration, White House and congressional officials struck a major deal, Bush appeared before the cameras for exactly two minutes, said he was “anxious” to sign a bill … and then left town.

Either the president doesn’t really care about immigration, or there’s something stopping him from dipping into his usual bag of tricks.

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