Saturday, January 10, 2015

Here Comes JEB!

The Pilot Newspaper: Opinion

Recently, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (or JEB! as his campaigns have referred to him) announced that he would form a “Leadership PAC” in January to “actively explore the possibility” of running for president.

After the announcement of the Leadership PAC, JEB! also announced that he was resigning from every private and nonprofit board of directors he sits on, according to stories in Politico and The Washington Monthly. Severing himself from all those corporate ties (which took effect on the last day of 2014) gives him a chance to characterize any slimy or damaging corporate connections as “long in the past” by 2016.
This may seem a curious attitude from the party who will be trying frantically to hang the 1990s-era indiscretions of Bill Clinton around his wife’s neck, but then, no one demands consistency from Republicans. Certainly not the national media.
In politician-speak, all of this means: “I’m totally running, but to announce this early would seem crass.” After all, the last thing someone running for the most powerful job in the Free World wants to appear is ambitious.
While I’ll probably never agree with JEB! on a lot of issues, I’ll give him credit for being at least reasonable on things like immigration reform and Common Core. He’s also miles ahead of many members of this party on the environment, according to statements I’ve read from both Democrats and Republicans from Florida. In fact, JEB! Is now a candidate for my small list of sane Republicans.
That’s going to be a problem for him.
See, there are two things that really grind the gears of the far right: (1) any proposal for immigration reform more realistic than “put a giant electric fence on the border and ship every single illegal immigrant home tomorrow, including the toddlers”; and (2) Common Core, a system of national education standards that they don’t really know anything about, but which Fox News has assured them is the thin end of the wedge for Islamofascistcommiesocialism.
JEB!, however, has stated that illegal immigrants “broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love.” Oh, the heresy! He went on to say, “It shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families.”
This is guaranteed not to sit well for those for whom “riled up” is their default state, especially when it comes to Those People.
As for Common Core, it’s been decried by other Republicans such as Jim DeMint, former senator and Heritage Foundation president, who says the standards “substitute an unaccountable federal bureaucracy for state, local and parental decision-making in education.” It has also been condemned by presidential hopefuls Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum. But JEB! has vowed to keep pushing it, calling the standards “good for the country.”
So by 2016, JEB! will have two choices. He can stick to his guns on immigration reform and Common Core and lose primary after primary to one or the other of the jokers who’ll keep popping out of the Republican Clown Car to be the front-runner for 15 minutes before imploding in a cloud of racism, misogyny, or bat-spit craziness. Or he can pull a Romney and try to run from things he once championed, to convince the raging right he’s one of them, and then lose the general because neither side trusts him.
So far, JEB! has shown an admirable tendency to take the first option. He’s even said he’s willing “to lose the primary in order to win the general.” How he hopes to win the general election without getting enough primary and caucus votes to get the nomination has not, however, been disclosed by his campaign. It’s probably some kind of top secret “strategery.”
Or possibly, the wingnuts will be able to choke back their bile over immigration and Common Core and embrace JEB! as the one most likely to beat Hillary Clinton. After all, as governor of Florida, he did do some things they love. He cut taxes, of course. He signed the Stand Your Ground law, which effectively legalized the killing of young black men if you could convince a jury you were scared enough of their hoodies and Mighty Black Fists of Doom. He ended affirmative action in state college admissions.
The Teahadists love that sort of thing and, if they can find it in their hearts to compromise, just a leeetle bit, on a couple of issues …
Wait. What I’m I saying? They’ll never do that. JEB! is toast.

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