Felipe Calderón is the George W. Bush of Mexico
Conservatives are roundly denouncing the words of the Mexican President, spoken in the well of the House of Representatives to the standing applause of the Speaker, the Vice President and other Democrats, that he strongly disagrees with the recently adopted immigration law in Arizona.
We can debate whether we agree with this position, or whether it is appropriate for a foreign head of state to criticize legislation duly and constitutionally enacted by the citizens of a state, particularly a law that does little beyond affirm federal law and express a determination to enforce it (what exactly were those leaders of the federal government applauding? Criticism of a state law that acknowledges the letter of the statute of which they are the guardians?).
Even so, there is a bigger picture that conservatives who sincerely wish to be seen by the electorate as the mature grown-ups in politics (as opposed to the irresponsible teenagers now driving the family car drunk over the cliff) should be mindful of.
Felipe Calderón is the George W. Bush of Mexico; the center-right leader whom the Left lampoons mercilessly and the Right finds plenty of room to criticize, but who will be sorely missed once he gone and his rivals take over. Recall that in 2006, Calderón won election in a squeaker that made the 2000 Bush-Gore fiasco look like a Boy Scout jamboree. To this day, Andres Manuel López-Obrador, or AMLO as he is affectionately known, has not recognized Calderón’s legitimacy and openly agitates as the shadow government of Mexico. Moreover, for years now Mexico has been besieged by civil war that is far more bloody for Mexico in proportion to Iraq for the United States; a war which has as its driving force the economic demand for illegal drugs in the United States. If collective guilt is legitimate in the debate over illegal immigration, it is equally a two-way street for other purposes.
Mexico deals very harshly with illegal immigrants into its own territory from places like Guatemala and El Salvador, so Calderón’s words smack of more than a bit of hypocrisy. But conservatives can have a gentleman’s disagreement while still recognizing that Calderón is a priceless partner in our common destiny, a decent and rational man with whom we can work for the common good. To do less would be irresponsible and self-defeating.