A VIRTUAL FENCE….I see that the Republican Party is busily continuing its usual electoral strategy: pretending to pander to the base during election years but simultaneously doing their best not to actually deliver anything. It might lose them votes elsewhere, after all:

No sooner did Congress authorize construction of a 700-mile fence on the U.S.-Mexico border last week than lawmakers rushed to approve separate legislation that ensures it will never be built….

Shortly before recessing late Friday, the House and Senate gave the Bush administration leeway to distribute the money to a combination of projects ? not just the physical barrier along the southern border. The funds may also be spent on roads, technology and “tactical infrastructure” to support the Department of Homeland Security’s preferred option of a “virtual fence.”

….In this case, it also reflects political calculations by GOP strategists that voters do not mind the details, and that key players ? including the administration, local leaders and the Mexican government ? oppose a fence-only approach, analysts said.

Hooray! The rubes, who party bigwigs hope aren’t “minding the details,” think they’re getting something like the Great Wall of China, but in reality they’ll get a few miles of showpiece fortification plus a billion dollars worth of “tactical infrastructure” and “virtual fence.”

Political parties play politics. But I have to say that the 20-year dance that Republicans have played with the social conservative wing of the party has been about as cynical as anything in modern history. I’m fine with that, of course, since I’d just as soon see social conservatives confined to their basements churning out angry mimeographed newsletters about the horrors of secular humanism, but it really makes you wonder if they’re ever going to catch on. How many times can Lucy pull the football away before they figure out they’re being had?

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