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When ‘Almost’ Ain’t Good Enough

by Paco Fabian on 01/07/2009 at 9:36pm

MistakesIn “Bush legacy: ‘At least we tried doesn’t cut it,” Gebe Martinez argues that there is no rainbow’s end on the arc ofmajor issues that only seemed to worsen under Bush’s watch.

If there is one lesson President-elect Barack Obama can learn from his predecessor, it is that “at least we tried” is not a graceful end note to failure. It just doesn’t cut it.

Especially when it comes to immigration.

The Politico column continues:

Like Bush, Obama is committed to an immigration measure that combines enforcement with earned legalization for illegal immigrants in the country. But as his predecessor proved, Obama cannot wait and turn to immigration after his political capital has run out. And he has to maintain the tone, not react to the rhetoric.

In other words, when it comes to immigration, strike while the iron ishot. Don’t end up wondering what would have happened if you’d had thestrength to act.

Think Progress pulled out a gem today from Bush’s exit interview with Cal Thomas:

THOMAS: And biggest do-over? Knowing everything you know now, what would you have done over again?

BUSH: I probably, in retrospect, should have pushed immigration reform right after the ’04 election and not Social Security reform.

Even Bush agrees that he had lost the political capital to win onimmigration by the time he got around to it. That he sees this as hisbiggest failure should be a warning to the Obama administration.

The good news is that there’s plenty of reason for the President-Elect to embrace reform early. According to Martinez:

Mostly, and especially if he wants to keep the Hispanic vote that swung dramatically in his favor in November, Obama cannot try and fail.

It’s a good thing that Obama committed to getting reform done in his first year in office.

It’s a great thing that so many of Obama’s appointments realize what it takes to fix such a deeply dysfunctional immigration system. But we will need to remind the administration again and again that for key swing voters and Latino citizens concerned aboutimmigration, ‘almost’ just ain’t gonna cut it come 2012.

We are looking forward to working with the new administration to finally solve what the last administration is now calling its greatest failure.

Join us.

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