I am really trying hard to like this guy… I really am.
Brat and I differ on a number of issues: fixing a broken immigration system vs. decrying any fix as “amnesty” and taking up an anti-immigrant line, for one. Defending the right to life vs. allowing abortionists to practice up to 20 weeks (yes, Dave Brat is pro-abortion). Flattening the tax code vs. failing to patron a single bill this year. The list continues.
…but when you say stuff like this, you go over the line from anti-illegal immigration, to just plain anti-immigrant:
On Monday Brat told conservative radio show host John Fredericks that he was angered by comments by some of his colleagues in Congress that undocumented immigrants who want to enlist in the military are showing their patriotism.
“I wanted to stand up and shout, I mean, ISIS is willing to serve in our military as well,” Brat said on “The John Fredericks Show,” heard in Richmond on WNTW (820 AM).
Now naturalization through military service has been around since, well… since the American Revolution. Of course, those were Scotch-Irish and the like… and it shouldn’t shock anyone to learn that. In fact, not only can undocumented immigrants serve honorably in the United States military and receive citizenship right now, the current program in place was formalized in the weeks after September 11th.
So when it comes to the threat of terrorism within the ranks, using ISIS as a rationale to wind back is just silly talk. Nidal Hasan was an American citizen. Timothy McVeigh received military training.
And lest one believe that somehow, naturalization through military service is this gaping hole through the 10 foot walls and barbed wire fencing we want along the American border, we’re talking about a total of 104,000 people who served our country, emerged with an honorable discharge, and received (earned?) American citizenship.
Now Brat attempted to clarify his position on air, perhaps realizing that it was wrong and trying to develop a rationale — and frankly, it’s one I agree with in abstract:
“Part of the reason Rome fell is because they started hiring barbarians, otherwise known as the Germans at the time, to be troops in their own army,” Brat said.
Of course, what the Romans did wasn’t just bringing Germanic tribesmen into the legions — they had done that for centuries even during the Republic — but literally hiring the entire tribe to fight along the Danube. It’d be like the United States hiring a few Mexican Army battalions to patrol the border, or a few gangs of drug cartels, or roving bands of Canadian hockey fans (since — of course — this isn’t about The Mexicans (TM), as we are constantly reminded).
…and then Brat screws it up by following up with this:
“What’s going on is the decline of western civilization at the highest level.”
Pop quiz: did immigration make America stronger or weaker?
The correct answer is stronger, folks.
So Brat tries it again… this time over e-mail where staff can read it and nothing could possibly go wrong…
“Some House members made the argument that we should let illegal immigrants serve in our military because they want to. What someone wants is not enough of a reason to break the law to let them serve — we need to think about what’s in the best interest of our country,” he said.
I dunno, folks… I mean, where in the United States at the federal level can people sit around and discuss policy, craft that policy into legislation, and then perhaps debate the merits and demerits of this legislation — these new laws — and send them to the upper chamber of our Congress where a similar process ensues, and the president can either sign or veto the proposed legislation?
Wait — that’s what these guys are supposed to do?!?
“The point wasn’t as much about ISIS as it was that ‘because they want to’ is an absurd argument.”
Fair enough, Mr. Brat. Just because folks want doesn’t mean we should permit — entirely granted.
…but refusing to legislate is not an alternative either.
A former ally of Mr. Brat’s confided his disappointment in the transition from professor to congressman. By the time it was too late, knowledge of Brat’s involvement with Sen. Walter Stosch’s policy shed, Brat’s involvement in the disastrous 2007 tax hike (HB 3202) and the $300 million taxpayer fueled GAB renovation project was enough to turn stomachs. Brat’s repudiation of pro-life principles stunned a good many more. The line that stuck with me?
“For a professor of ethics? He has none.”
Ouch — and that came from a former ally.
Needless to say, the gas is out of the tank on the honeymoon period. VA-07 is used to leadership by solution, not leadership by opposition. Comparing honorably discharged veterans to ISIS terrorists is offensive at best, and Brat’s inadmission of the current provisions to allow undocumented immigrants the opportunity to serve America’s military right now is either utterly disingenuous, or yet another effort to beat the drum of anti-immigrant sentiment for a few rage-inducing headlines.
Maybe Brat can turn a new leaf. I know that his back and forth relationship with this faith has finally landed him in the Catholic camp (at least, at last anyone had heard), and so that’s a minor positive from your humble author’s perspective. Maybe that will give Brat the moral conviction to stand up for a federal personhood amendment? Maybe we’ll see some sort of comprehensive immigration reform that brings in all the players and fixes the problem rather than throwing rocks at it — one that secures the border and fixes the broken visa problem. Maybe Brat will eventually publish a book? Maybe we’ll see a bold idea of tax reform that folks can at the very least debate and discuss? Surely, Brat was not elected simply to pick on immigrants?
To be successful, Brat needs to capitalize on ideas, not bashing immigrants who have served America’s military honorably. The johnny-one-note against immigrants is not going to last forever. In fact, given this week’s comments, the mood on Brat’s leadership (or failure thereof) may have finally taken it’s decisive downward turn.
UDPATE: Daniel (kept anonymous for a reason) in the comments section helpfully reveals that Rep. Dave Brat joined fellow Virginians Hurt, Wittman, and Forbes in co-sponsoring HR816 less than two days ago. Yes folks… we’re talking 36 hours ago.
So my faith in Mr. Brat (at least on life) is momentarily restored.
Obviously, HR816 now stands at 89 co-sponsors and requires 100 to get the ball rolling… so Comstock, Goodlatte, Rigell, and Griffith: all eyes on you!
UPDATE x2: Looks as if the only reason Brat signed on to the bill? Was because he was forewarned about the Planned Parenthood videos. Scared straight… but don’t call it moral conviction, folks. Just the politics of convenience.