It would seem a bit counterintuitive for the GOP to take political advice from the man that drove it to its current state of disrepair and minority status. But George W. Bush offered a bit of sage analysis during an interview on "Fox News Sunday."
Acknowledging the cyclical nature of the political process, the president urged his party to abandon litmus tests and be more inclusive on policy issues, specifically immigration.
"Look, obviously we got whipped in 2008 and there will be a new wave of leadership arriving on the scene," Bush told Fox's Brit Hume. "But it's very important for our party not to narrow its focus, not to become so inward looking that we drive people away from a philosophy that is compassionate and decent and I -- my call for our party is to be open-minded about different people's opinions. We shouldn't have litmus tests whether or not you are a Republican. And we should be open-minded about big issues like immigration reform. Because if they're viewed anti somebody, if the party is viewed as anti-immigrant, then another fellow may say, well if they're against the immigrant, then they may be against me. We have to be a party FOR a better future."
Every political party and politician, of course, describes itself as Big Tent in focus. But it's been particularly interesting to watch as members of the Bush administration have broached the topic of minority politics. Karl Rove, at a forum debating the legacy of the man he helped make president, warned that the GOP would suffer even longer-term setbacks if it did not find a way to reach black and Latino voters.
Democrats, of course, recognize this as well, arguing that the switch in the Hispanic vote towards Barack Obama represented the single most important development of the '08 election. And in private -- and sometimes in public -- they will concede that Bush deserves credit for sticking his neck out on the immigration reform debates in '07. Not necessarily because the policy was humane -- but because it was smart politics, which his party ultimately rejected.