Republicans are headed for disaster over the issue of immigration, said Fred Barnes in The Weekly Standard. The party's conservative base is demanding that President Bush and the GOP-controlled Congress do something about this nation's 12 million illegal aliens, and the millions of others who wish to cross over from Mexico. But 'œimpasse,' not action, is looming on Capitol Hill. The Senate appears likely to pass a compromise version of Bush's new immigration reform proposal. Bush's plan, unveiled last week, would dispatch 6,000 National Guardsmen to patrol the border and staunch the immigrant flow with high-tech fences in urban corridors—while also putting millions of illegals on track for legal status and citizenship. House Republican leaders, though, are insisting on taking a much harder line. Their bill calls for walling off 700 miles of the Mexican border, arresting as many illegals as the government can find, and deporting them. If Bush can't resolve this impasse, and no bill is passed, 'œit would mark the end of the Bush presidency as an effective political force.'

The chances for a compromise look bleak, said David Brooks in The New York Times. The 'œclose-the-border restrictionists' believe they're in the majority, and they're not backing down. Conservative talk-radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh—once a bulwark of Bush support—now pillory the president daily for seeking the middle ground. The right wing's rage at the president, in fact, is now as hysterical as the anti-war left's. Have the hard-liners lost their minds? 'œPerhaps they are punishing Bush for the sin of being unpopular.' Some of them are so angry that they object 'œeven when they get what they want,' said Jack Kelly in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. When Bush proposed cracking down on employers who hire illegals, the hotheads dismissed it as a token gesture.

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