By Lynn R. Mitchell
It is all becoming clear: some right-of-center people who are determined to undermine Governor Jeb Bush as a serious contender for the GOP presidential nomination have taken to rewriting history and labeling a strong conservative leader as something he’s not. A tea party member said to me on Facebook that Jeb Bush is a “fascist and crony socialist.” That is so ridiculous as to be laughable.
Controversial Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio wrote in the same thread, “Give me a break. Jeb Bush makes vomit smell nice by comparison” (see screen shot below).
This came after a Facebook friend posted respectful remarks concerning the former Florida governor: “JEB BUSH ~ Now please don’t start hyperventilating! This is an interesting article and I must say he was indeed a good (and rather Conservative) Governor. I laughed at the line that ‘he should change his name…’ Suggest you read the entire article. I’m not a fan of his anymore due to Common Core, but this is an accurate description of his time as Governor.”
The article she linked to reveals there is a war on Jeb Bush from those to the far right within the Republican Party (see Florida politicians say Jeb Bush is a true conservative by Adam C. Smith in the Miami Herald):
Radio host Mark Levin has dismissed Florida’s former governor as “a very good moderate Democrat,” while pioneering conservative activist Richard Viguerie for at least two years has been trashing Bush as a dangerous, big government Republican.
That meme has been carried beyond the talk show hosts to their followers who are pushing it on Facebook and elsewhere in a rewriting of history that used to be reserved as a tactic used by Democrats. It is a strategy to denigrate Governor Bush while supporting other candidates.
It is fine to disagree with the man. But calling Bush or others by reckless names is beneath the dignity of those on the right side of the aisle. Labeling him a moderate Democrat and a dangerous big government Republican is disingenuous. Calling him a fascist and crony socialist discredits the argument.
The Miami Herald article’s author seems incredulous as he asks the question, “Jeb Bush, a moderate squish?”
The answer is a stunning affirmation of Bush’s conservative credentials:
The governor who treated trial lawyers and teachers union leaders as enemies of the state? Who stripped job protections from civil servants? Who slashed taxes? Whose passion for privatization included enacting the nation’s first statewide private school voucher program and extended to privatizing health care for the poor, prisons and child protection services?
This “very good moderate Democrat” defied court after court to try and force the reinsertion of feeding tubes for brain-damaged Terri Schiavo and consistently backed more restrictions on abortions and fewer on gun ownership. He fought for reduced entitlement spending and, deriding nanny-state impulses, repealed the helmet law for motorcyclists in Florida and vetoed a GOP-backed bill requiring booster seats for kids in cars.
“For us who live in Florida, who experienced the eight-year Jeb Bush governorship, it’s almost laughable and maybe even hysterical for people who live outside of Florida to claim that he’s a moderate,” said former House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, himself a conservative Republican who led the opposition to Florida accepting federal money to expand Medicaid to more than 800,000 people.
“This is a guy who probably has as conservative a record as governor as anybody I’ve ever seen,” Weatherford said, “and he has one of the most successful records as governor of anybody I’ve ever seen.”
The specious perception of Bush outside of Florida reflects both a fundamental misunderstanding of the man, probably due to assumptions based on the presidential records of his father and brother, and also how far rightward the Republican Party has shifted since Bush left the Governor’s Mansion in 2007.
“He is thoughtful and informed, but there is nothing liberal about Jeb Bush. He is an arch-conservative,” said Dan Gelber, who as a Democratic leader in the Legislature respectfully and constantly fought most of Bush’s agenda. “He might have been moderate now and again, but even then it was probably by accident.”
Bush was not just a successful Republican governor politically; He was a conservative activist governor who relished pushing the envelope on policy. Conservative activists elsewhere may revile the Bush name, but in America’s biggest battleground state this Bush is like a Milton Friedman or Barry Goldwater in terms of promoting conservatism.
And then there’s this:
Yep, times have changed.
In late 2006, [Grover] Norquist told the Palm Beach Post that Jeb Bush was America’s best governor: “He should change his name and run for president.”
Conservative Washington Post writer Jennifer Rubin also was astonished at those questioning Bush’s conservative creds. Earlier this week she wrote (see Right Turn’s Inane attack: Jeb Bush not conservative?!):
Is Jeb Bush really going to run against the conservative base? That would be odd since he is a conservative – a pro-Second Amendment, pro-life, pro-defense, pro-growth, tax reducing and spending cutting conservative.
His remark last week concerning how he would have to run the presidential race if he jumped in and the reaction to it indicate how unhinged the far-right, shutdown squad sliver of the GOP electorate is than it is of his campaign vision. (Those who did not listen or did not care to accurately relate his words would be the people who ran or supported radical right candidates in Senate primaries in North Carolina, Kansas, Georgia, Alaska, Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas – and lost every one.)
What Jeb Bush actually said, in case anyone is interested, was that one has to “lose the primary to win the general without violating your principles.” That has nothing to do with running against anyone or anything. It has everything to do with — unlike say Mitt Romney (whom the right liked in 2008 and then despised in 2012) — adopting positions one does not sincerely believe in order to curry favor with what one thinks the base wants to hear. That the far right should interpret his comment as vowing to run against them is more telling about them than about Jeb Bush. And it is equally telling that the conservative media echo chamber hailed it as “proof” Jeb Bush is no conservative. Apparently political insincerity is a must with this crowd.
This is silliness on stilts, and it assumes primary voters will listen to those who caricature Bush rather than Bush himself. That is what they thought about Sen. Mitch McConnell and other full-fledged conservatives whom they made out to be liberals. It is the triumph of spin over facts, and of their own self-importance over political reality.
She also pointed out the hypocrisy of conservative talk show hosts:
At a time that some hardline conservatives are ridiculing the mainstream media for narratives that are not supported by facts (in the case of purported rape at University of Virginia and the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.) it is ironic that they advance their own false narrative (Jeb is a squishy moderate) that is unsupported by the facts.
Though Ms. Rubin notes, “It is not clear why the far right is so obsessed with reinventing Jeb Bush,” it would appear to be a strategy to disqualify a viable, mainstream candidate who would be a frontrunner in the pack of Republican possibilities for 2016 and appeal to a wider base of voters.
Whether he runs or not, it is duplicitous to rewrite Jeb Bush’s conservative history. With Rasmussen’s latest poll revealing that only 25 percent of likely voters thought Obama was leading the country in the right direction while a stunning 75 percent thought the president was leading the country in the wrong direction, it would be nice if those right of center could adjust their priorities to setting the country back on course and not on the propaganda of destroying conservative leaders.
Update 12-12-14: When I posted the link to this article on Facebook, I did so with the following comment: “Controversial Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio wrote on Facebook, ‘Give me a break. Jeb Bush makes vomit smell nice by comparison.’ I suppose my surprise was not only that I expect more decorum from elected officials but also the rewriting of history about a fellow conservative by those right-of-center.”
Tonight Delegate Delgaudio left a comment on my Facebook page doubling down on Governor Bush. No remorse for the comments previously made … he simply reinforced and made it worse. Eugene Delgaudio wrote:
“Oh yes. We should all grovel at Jeb’s feet. After all the Washington Post, illustrious attacker of (just today) of the Drudge Report and on other days anything remotely conservative, defends Jeb Bush as a conservative. Bush has directly embraced anti-family common core, said he does not need the conservative base during the primary or the general election (what part of the election process does he need conservatives for, actually?) and distanced himself from his other conservative sibling on policies and his from his own father when he was President. He’s the anti-Bush Bush candidate. He does not like his family policies (who said previously he should not run) or any of my conservative allies over the past 50 years. Other than that he’s really a nice guy. The list of objections are endless. As far as bloviating and ponderous liberal talk, Jeb Bush makes the titanic and humougous Chris Christie look like a skinny Albert Einstein by comparison.“
I am speechless.