It is somewhat rare that I delve too deeply into the right side of the blogosphere. It’s not necessarily their ideas that makes it so difficult exactly. True I find a lot of the muck over on the wrong side of the tracks kinda disgusting, and any time I feel like I need a good wretchfest (which is INCREDIBLY rare) I might hop on down to Michelle Malkin to get me a good ol’ dose of pro American anti everything else bigotry.

But like I said, it’s not the ideas that put me off so much as just the language. “TREASON!” “TRAITOR!” and now, the latest buzzword ready to get my stomach doing the hurky jerky, “amnesty… Amnesty… AMNESTY!”

Holy crap. You would think the word actually translated to, “We’re going to authorize all persons in this country illegally to murder babies,” or something, it sounds that bad. Amnesty is the reason why this bill is going to go down.

Amnesty will ruin our country.

Funny thing, though, there’s no such thing as amnesty in the current immigration reform bill. According to the bill and the add ons it has had to pick up in order to have a chance at making it through the senate, in order for illegal immigrants to stay here legally, they must pay a $5000 fine(see that I wrote “fine” in bold print so it would stand out), and they would have to “touchback” or go back home and then come back here.

I think the word fine is kind of important here because it implies that people are paying a sum of cash as a means of paying for their crime.

But I can’t be sure, so I looked them up… in the dictionary.

am·nes·ty /?æmn?sti/ Pronunciation KeyShow Spelled Pronunciation[am-nuh-stee] Pronunciation KeyShow IPA Pronunciation noun, plural -ties, verb, -tied, -ty·ing.
a general pardon for offenses, esp. political offenses, against a government, often granted before any trial or conviction.
Law. an act of forgiveness for past offenses, esp. to a class of persons as a whole.
a forgetting or overlooking of any past offense. –verb (used with object)
to grant amnesty to; pardon.

Hmmm… Nothing in there about fines or fees or anything… but you know, just to be sure, maybe we better define what a fine is.

This one was tricky, as there are often some varying definitions for the word fine, but with a little grit, and a lot of determination, I was able to pin down a working definition for the word that meets our needs.


a sum of money imposed as a penalty for an offense or dereliction: a parking fine.
Law. a fee paid by a feudal tenant to the landlord, as on the renewal of tenure.
English Law. (formerly) a conveyance of land through decree of a court, based upon a simulated lawsuit.
Archaic. a penalty of any kind

Well, golly. It seems as though the two definitions kind of don’t fit together, do they? It can’t be amnesty if you are forcing people to pay a fine, can it?

While this was all well and good, I’m also a realist and realize that there is very little I can do to dissuade those on the right from mischaracterizing the whole debate by in appropriately using the word amnesty (which I find ironic considering that these are the same people who insist on English being spoken in this country, and yet they are abusing the word amnesty with little or no shame).

Which brings me back to the beginning. It’s pretty rare for me to go reading in the conservative region of the blogosphere, but my journeys brought me there earlier this morning, and to this interesting little piece that compares Reagan’s “amnesty” to Bush’s “amnesty” (which, as unequivocally proven above, is not in fact amnesty at all).

What I find so interesting about the piece is not the talk about illegal immigration at all. It seems a pretty typical exchange of non ideas between a couple of buddy buddy xenophobes (though do note the heavy usage of language as I mentioned above, “traitor” “treason” “invaders”, that kind of stuff).

What gets me is the Reagan worship. And yes, the actual phrase “What Would Reagan Do?” actually crops up in there.

Are Republicans and conservatives really this lost? Have they gone beyond canonizing Ronald Reagan, which most ex presidents undergo canonization to a degree, and jumped straight to deifying him?

When Reagan was president, what people tend to misunderstand, was that he, like Bill Clinton, was an extraordinarily gifted politician. His actual ability to govern is as much in question as anyone else’s. Like Clinton, Reagan will be remembered more fondly by the members of his own party than of the opposing party, and like Clinton, there are a lot of criticisms that he so richly deserves (I’m not a Reagan scholar but I can say that nuclear proliferation and Reaganomics are a couple things I’m not particularly fond of). Granted, Reagan was much more faithful to his wife than Bill, but you know I’m just drawing similarities, not trying to say they were cut from the same cloth.

The thing about Reagan that differs from Clinton was that Clinton was largely a centrist, which meant that his appeal to the center and the left came not just from his personality and stage presence, but also because from a governing standpoint, he probably just appealed to a broader demographic. With Reagan, he was considerably more deeply embedded into the conservative ideology, but his skills as a communicator did extremely well to cover this up (I will no doubt cover this in more in depth later this year as I wait for my advance copy of a book that takes a look at how Reagan was able to succeed politically in spite of his ideology).

I think this bolstered a lot of conservatives, and again, with Bush the second, it seemed we had another great communicator on our hands. But what has been thrown in the face of a lot of people is the folly of an overtly conservative agenda, especially in the social and foreign policy arenas.

There’s a hole in the conservative world of this nation. One that was dug up by President Bush, a hole bored out by incompetence and bad politics and worse policy. And I think the conservatives are trying to fill this hole with a whole lot of ghost of Ronald Reagan.

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