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Jeb Bush’s Bizarre Group Therapy Campaign

George HW Bush, George W Bush, Jeb Bush

Today, former Florida governor Jeb Bush formally enters the race for the Republican nomination for President. When Bush began his exploratory effort he was supposed to assemble the strongest roster of aides and donors, spooking would-be rivals for the nomination from the race.

His political machine was expected to have $100 million on hand the day he declared as a candidate. Eventually, no one would ask about his family, which has spawned two Presidents, or his support for Common Core education standards or liberal views on illegal immigrants.

None of that has happened noted Time Magazine’s Phillip Elliott in his pre-announcement profile of Bush.

Instead of assembling a political juggernaut that would crush all rivals, Jeb Bush has engaged for the past six months in a bizarre group therapy session with the American people and Republican primary election voters.

Somewhat like a schoolboy looking at the legacy of his parent and older sibling and feeling incapable of measuring-up he told us he is “somewhat introverted,” rather than why he supports Common Core and amnesty for illegal aliens in the face of overwhelming opposition to those policies from the conservative grassroots of the Republican Party.

He told us he had a hard time disagreeing with his family (don’t we all), rather than explaining how, after assembling a foreign policy and national security team of alumni of the two previous Bush administrations, he would do things differently than Bush 41 and 43 did in the Middle East.

Rather than engage in the wonky policy details for which he was known as governor, Bush has engaged in a sort of “I’m ok, you’re ok” mantra as he has said repeatedly that he wants people to “know his heart” or that he is learning to “show his heart.”

And perhaps most bizarrely, he brushed aside with no rational explanation his Rachel Dolezal-like claims of being Hispanic, a longtime ethnic dysmorphia that even his friends call being a “Gringo Aplatanado” or Anglo who has “gone native” and adopted Hispanic culture in derogation of his own ethnic roots.

We will stipulate that Jeb Bush, despite claims he was a bully in high school, might be a decent fellow if he will please stop torturing us with his insecurities about his family and his place in history and get down to explaining how someone with his positions and record plans to run a campaign on, as he put it “new leadership that takes conservative principles and applies them so that people can rise up.”

And it is his record, more than his family name and associations that should trouble conservatives as Bush formally launches his campaign for president today.

Bush’s reputation as a fiscal “conservative” rests largely on his tax “reforms.” But the cost of government, as every principled conservative recognizes, isn’t what government collects in taxes, it is what it spends.

And on Jeb Bush’s watch Florida state spending ballooned by 52 percent, from $48.6 billion in 1999 to $73.9 billion in 2006.*And state expenditures per capita rose from $2,809 in 1999, to $3,942 in fiscal year 2006-2007.

Likewise, just as Common Core is intended to accomplish on the national level, what Jeb Bush’s education “reform” did in Florida was impose a rigid set of top-down standards that have resulted in a “teach to the test” mentality that has stripped critical thinking, Western culture, life skills and citizenship out of Florida’s classrooms.

As Linda Kleindienst, then of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, wrote on January 7, 2007 as Jeb Bush left office, “Bush's legacy in this field [education] was mixed at best. Test results showed learning gains among fourth-graders, whose scores were easier to improve than those of older children, as well as minorities across all grade levels. But Florida's high school dropout rate and per-pupil spending continued to rank among the nation's worst.”

As we and many other conservatives see it, the result of Jeb Bush’s so-called reform is students who are taught to take multiple choice tests, but who can’t form a logical argument or name the three branches of the federal government – compliant drones for the Big Businesses that were the primary advocates of Jeb Bush’s “reforms” and that are now Common Core’s staunchest advocates.

Jeb Bush has also signaled that he will abandon social conservatives to support same-sex “marriage’ and other elements of the Democratic Party’s social and cultural agenda.

One of Bush’s top campaign aides, David Kochel of Iowa, had this to say about standing for traditional social mores and cultural values, “Frankly,” Kochel said on an Iowa television program, "the culture wars are kind of over, and Republicans largely lost."

This kind of thinking should not really surprise conservative observers, given, as McKay Coppins reported for BuzzFeed and our friend W. James Antle III dissected at some length in an article for The Week, “When Bush officially launches his presidential bid later this year, he will likely do so with a campaign manager who has urged the Republican Party to adopt a pro-gay agenda; a chief strategist who signed a Supreme Court amicus brief arguing for marriage equality in California; a longtime adviser who once encouraged her minister to stick to his guns in preaching equality for same-sex couples; and a communications director who is openly gay.”

All of this makes us wonder if Jeb Bush should gain the Republican nomination for President exactly who will be left to vote Republican when November 2016 actually rolls around?

Ronald Reagan gained the Republican nomination for president, and eventually won the White House in 1980, by welding together all of the grassroots discontents with the Washington and Republican establishments and building what became known as the “three-legged stool” of the Reagan coalition; anti-communist national defense conservatives, fiscal conservatives and social conservatives.

The new Republican majority in Congress was forged by adding the limited government constitutional conservatives of the Tea Party movement to that three-legged stool, to make what should have been a solid and stable platform from which Republicans could govern for generations to come.

The Jeb Bush campaign seems framed to alienate one or more elements of that coalition and reduce the Republican Party to the same permanent minority status it held for most of the 50 years between the New Deal and the election of Reagan. 

CHQ Chairman Richard A. Viguerie has long-observed that the establishment media will promote and encourage the nomination of the most progressive electable Republican until such time as that candidate achieves the nomination, and then they will turn on him and support the Democrat.

After Jeb Bush’s formal announcement today we expect that the establishment media will spend the rest of the week extolling Jeb Bush’s conservative credentials and trying to make him out to be “the adult in the room” compared to the other Republican candidates, meanwhile grassroots conservatives – the ones who actually vote in Republican primaries – will be wondering how Jeb Bush differs from Hillary Clinton and why they should bother to show up and vote in November 2016 if he is the Republican nominee.


*South Florida Sun-Sentinel figures

For the 2007 version of Jeb Bush’s record click this link to read “The Jeb Bush Era Ends in Florida,” by Linda Kleindienst, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Sunday, January 7, 2007

For the establishment’s remake of Jeb Bush as a “conservative” read, "In past office, clues about the 2016 Bush" by Lloyd Dunkelberger, Capital Bureau Chief,  Saturday, December 20, 2014

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