The CEO president serves his Big Business masters on immigration |

The CEO president serves his Big Business masters on immigration

Kirk Caraway

You have to hand it to President George W. Bush. Just when you think he couldn’t sink any lower, he finds a way. You would think Mr. 28 percent would be trying to find ways to boost his popularity and political power out of the pit where it now resides. But with his new immigration reform bill, he seems intent on driving away the few people who have so far blissfully ignored the disaster his administration has become.

Maybe he’s trying for a new legacy, to be the first American president to have a single-digit approval rating.

This 380-page bill would be of better use if it were recycled and turned into toilet paper. It’s a complicated piece of legislation, full of all kinds of deals and compromises. And it will be absolutely worthless in terms of solving the immigration problem.

The real trouble isn’t in the bill, but the fact that the Bush Administration has zero interest in enforcing any immigration laws that hurt their Big Business friends. They have proven this year after year as they have cut back on all enforcement measures aimed at keeping illegal workers from getting and keeping the jobs that attracted them here to begin with.

All of us ordinary people stand around and shake our heads at the stuff that comes out of the White House these days, wondering if the president has been secretly abducted by aliens.

We think this way because we want to believe this president still works for us. The fact is, he never did.

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Get this straight. Bush works for Big Business, and Big Business does not care about you. If they can make a profit by giving your job to a low-paid illegal immigrant, they will. Bush will tell you over and over that his politics are based on principles, but these principles always seems to bend to the favor of businesses who put him in the White House.

Immigration is just one example of this. Let’s try another one that hits closer to the dinner plate. A small Kansas premium beef producer, Creekstone Farms, recently came up with an idea to help it compete against the big meat packers that control the industry. They decided to test all of their cattle for Mad Cow Disease, to help distinguish them from the competition. Sounds like the kind of innovative capitalism this country was based on, giving consumers a choice in what they buy.

This scared the big beef producers, who are afraid they might have to spend the money to test their own cattle. And when Big Business is in trouble, they call Big Government for help.

So along comes the Department of Agriculture, which is trying to stop Creekstone Farms from doing this testing, even in the face of a federal court decision saying the department has no jurisdiction.

So much for that Bush principle of letting the marketplace set the rules instead of government.

And those same meat-packing companies who are trying to shut out their competition with Bush’s help? They are some of the worst offenders when it comes to hiring illegal workers.

Immigration is a wedge issue for Bush’s base, as it pulls away the curtain and reveals who is really running the show. He decries his opponents for painting his immigration plan as amnesty. It puts him on the opposite end of the framing debate, a technique he has used so effectively for six-plus years, on everything from the death tax to the War on Terror. So much of the time we judge the achievements of presidents by the legislation they champion, or the wars they fight. But much of their job is about managing government, the often-mundane task of carrying out policies and enforcing laws.

Whether it’s purposeful mismanagement like immigration enforcement, or clueless management like Iraq and Katrina, Bush the Manager deserves those single-digit ratings he’s headed toward.

– Kirk Caraway is editor of, and also writes a blog on national issues at