Jeb Bush and Republican Amnesia

In this campaign, Republicans are doing all they can to disassociate themselves from the Bush years.

With the Republican presidential nomination almost in his grasp, Mitt Romney rolled out a notable endorsement last week, from a former governor of Florida. It was notable not because it's likely to change the mind of any voter, but because it required the Romney campaign to utter a four-letter word it has been loath to use: Bush.

The presidential candidates never tire of reminding us theirs is the party of Reagan and Lincoln. That the modern version is, more than anything else, the party of Bush is something they prefer to omit.

The last two Republican presidents were members of the clan. Someone named Bush has been on the national ticket in six of the last eight elections.

But after spending eight years rallying behind every scheme of George W. Bush -- the Medicare prescription drug program, No Child Left Behind, a trillion-dollar war based on false claims -- Republicans now act as though they never met the guy. He's gone from Conquering Hero to Invisible Man.

If some Republicans had their way, however, there would be another Bush on this year's ticket, namely Jeb. Whenever speculation bubbles about a deadlocked convention turning to a unity candidate, his is the name at the top of the list of potential saviors.

Why? Because Jeb Bush makes any of the people who competed in the GOP primaries this year look like they should be running for coroner. He's an accomplished former two-term governor of a large swing state who is admired by the party's most conservative elements as well as its slightly less conservative ones.

He was rated the second best governor in America on fiscal matters by the Cato Institute, and he reaped plaudits for supporting charter schools, vouchers and other educational reforms. He won a place in the hearts of social conservatives by signing a law to keep Terry Schiavo from being taken off life support. He is popular among Hispanics, and not just because he married one of them.

But he has a huge liability: that unfortunate family connection, which is borderline radioactive. The only reason he could be taken seriously at all is that he can be portrayed as strikingly different from his delinquent brother: more serious, more intelligent, more able, less Texan. In their younger days, Jeb was always known as "the smart brother." George, says biographer Robert Draper, was "the family chucklehead."

That creates a strange dynamic. When Bobby and Teddy Kennedy ran for president, they did everything they could to evoke memories of brother Jack. If Jeb were to run, he'd have to treat George W. like the crazy uncle at Thanksgiving dinner.

But the Bushes have some experience with that approach. When George W. made his White House bid, his campaign encouraged the perception of him as the true son and rightful heir -- of Reagan, not George H.W. Bush. He confided, "I'm more like Ronald Reagan than my dad."

He said that "the biggest difference between me and my father is that he went to Greenwich Country Day and I went to San Jacinto Junior High" -- omitting other notable differences, like his father being a decorated combat veteran, UN ambassador, CIA director and vice president.

But the old man lost his re-election campaign after disenchanting many Republicans by breaking his "read my lips" pledge not to raise taxes. So W had to convey an unmistakable message to voters: I'm different from that other Bush.

Though it may have been unfilial, the tactic was effective. But now it has been generally adopted by Republican candidates, who blame Barack Obama for the TARP program, the General Motors bailout and stimulus-caused deficits -- all of which began under his predecessor.

But the need to disassociate from one Bush or another is not just Jeb's problem; it's the entire party's problem. W left office with the lowest approval rating of any president since Jimmy Carter -- another president whose party pretends he never existed. GOP members of Congress, who were happy to enable Bush's spending binge while he was in office, have been forced to reinvent themselves as fiscal skinflints.

In this campaign, Republicans are doing all they can to disassociate themselves from the Bush years. But what's true of trees is also true of political parties: By their fruits you shall know them.

Steve Chapman blogs daily at newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/steve_chapman.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    OK now that jsut does not make any sense at all to me dude, none,

    www.Anon-Works.tk

  • Libertarians love Fascism||

    It cannot be denied that Fascism and similar movements aimed at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has for the moment saved European civilization. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history.

    ~Ludwig von Mises

  • Why Fibertards vote Republican||

    "I absolutely insist on protecting private property...we must encourage private initiative."

    ~Adolph Hitler

  • Fluffy||

    The fuhrerprinzip trumped all property claims.

    There was not a single piece of private property anywhere in Nazi Germany.

  • ||

    It responds to itself when it responds to anonbot. And you engage it, Fluffy? I am disappoint.

  • Robert Stack||

    I am disappoint.

    Says the guy who is obsessed with it.
    This is why we can't have nice things.

  • ||

    I'm not obsessed with it. "It" posted under my name for hours yesterday in some bizarre self-trolling episode in an attempt to deflect from getting its just desserts for not only shitting on our threads for months, but for slandering John.

  • Like a wild butterfly||

    sloopyinca|3.26.12 @ 9:03AM|#

    I'm not obsessed with it.

    LOLOL!

    You are an obsession
    I cannot sleep
    I am your possession
    Unopened at your feet
    There's no balance
    No equality
    Be still I will not accept defeat

    I will have you
    Yes, I will have you
    I will find a way and I will have you

    Like a butterfly
    A wild butterfly
    I will collect you and capture you

  • ||

    Really, Mary? Animotion?

    I thought someone your age would be into music from the mid to late 70's. Or did your botox doc turn you on to shitty 80's pop? Or maybe Jennifer is into it.

  • sticks||

    Sloop,

    Whoever "it" is how do you know "it" is one in the same with other "it". There could quite likely be multiple people who troll HR or you.

    I don't get the one person troll theory. There are many I think.

  • ||

    Oh, I'm pretty sure it's a DDoS attack on reason from some progressive site that's holding a grudge against us after we mocked them.

    I'm just beating away at Mary for what she did to John. And I don't think I'm alone in my reasoning.

  • sticks||

    I haven't yet found the comment thread with John and IT. A link? Still not sure mstack is rectal. It is likely but not certain.

  • ||

    The one where she listed all of his personal information and accused him of pedophelia? The squirrels erased her slanderous attacks.

  • sticks||

    I missed that.

    Are you certain rather is stack? Fuck the trolls but be sure before you go around fucking them:)

  • The Lies Libertarians Attempt||

    Fluffy|3.26.12 @ 8:48AM|#
    There was not a single piece of private property anywhere in Nazi Germany.

    Oh god, tell another whopper, Fluffy.

    You're as fucking stupid as a Kentucky Creationist Museum masterpiece.

  • Fluffy||

    You apparently have no idea what the fuhrerprinzip actually was.

    Hitler could overrule any law, regulation, judicial ruling, or property claim at will, just by speaking.

    Usually this functioned as a kind of "lightspeed eminent domain", where property would be repurposed for political (and later war) purposes, but he also is recorded as having exercised it capriciously - pointing at a piece of property he liked and declaring it his, for example, or taking issue with someone's driving and commandeering their car on the spot.

    When the fuhrer can seize any property he wants at will, no one actually owns any property other than the fuhrer.

    Maybe if you weren't such a historical ignoramus you would know these things.

  • The Lies Libertarians Attempt||

    Keep up your inept bullshit, Fluffy.

    There was whole bunches of private property held in Germany, throughout the war.

    Remember, Germany was fighting the Communists.

    Oh, you forgot that?

    LOL

  • Fluffy||

    Private property is real property or chattel to which an owner holds title, which cannot be taken away without due process of law.

    When the fuhrer can take whatever he wants at will, there is no private property. There's only stuff you're temporarily holding because the fuhrer hasn't decided he wants it yet.

  • You pay Property Taxes?||

    I see, you don't really own your private property either.

  • ||

    Nope. Technically, unless you own property by allodial title, you don't own it.

  • Fluffy||

    Nope. Technically, unless you own property by allodial title, you don't own it.

    But you can't be denied your fee simple property without due process of law, either.

    And this doesn't say anything about chattels.

    German property "owners" were in the position a feudal tenant would have found himself in, if the king decreed that all grants of enfoeffment were void and that he could change them at will. In such a situation, no one has any property any more but the king.

  • JT||

    socialists fought communists all the time.

  • hayek||

    There was private property, in name only. The state determined how the factors of production were to be used, what to produce, the prices for raw material and finished goods, the wage rate for labor, etc.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Ok. This made me laugh out loud. Complete non sequitur, or does it refer to something I missed?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    (referring to "Creationist Museum" reference)

  • ||

    (referring to "Creationist Museum" reference)

    She mixing up her WI and shrike characters. So hard to keep things straight when her whole world is falling down around her.

  • Market FundaMENTALists||

    ...are as slow as their Biblical Fundamentalist brethren.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    christFAGS?

  • ||

    OT: CN, was C-bus insane Saturday night?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    No. But give us time (and a couple more victories.)

  • RandFAGS ||

    MisesFAGS
    RothbardFAGS

    And they'll deny all three Christs thrice, before the KOCH crows.

  • rather troll alert||

    The above post appears to have been made by an individual who assumes multiple identities, including, but not limited to, "Mary Stack", "rather", and "White Indian".

    Please do not reply to posts made by this person or attempt to engage in debate.

    Characteristics of postings by this person include use of bold and italics, cutting and pasting of writings by Jason Godesky (who appears to not be involved), debating in bad faith, and making large quantities of posts 24/7.

    Thank you for your cooperation.

  • Market FundaMENTALists||

    Are just like Biblical Fundamentalists.

    Busy creating Hell.

    And wanting people to suffer.

  • Team Blue||

    We want people to suffer, too... if they didn't, we'd be voted out of office forever.

  • rather troll alert||

    The above post appears to have been made by an individual who assumes multiple identities, including, but not limited to, "Mary Stack", "rather", and "White Indian".

    Please do not reply to posts made by this person or attempt to engage in debate.

    Characteristics of postings by this person include use of bold and italics, cutting and pasting of writings by Jason Godesky (who appears to not be involved), debating in bad faith, and making large quantities of posts 24/7.

    Thank you for the cooperation.

  • rather troll alert||

    The above post appears to have been made by an individual who assumes multiple identities, including, but not limited to, "Mary Stack", "rather", and "White Indian".

    Please do not reply to posts made by this person or attempt to engage in debate.

    Characteristics of postings by this person include use of bold and italics, cutting and pasting of writings by Jason Godesky (who appears to not be involved), debating in bad faith, and making large quantities of posts 24/7.

    Thank you for the cooperation.

  • invisible furry hand||

    GOP members of Congress, who were happy to enable Bush's spending binge while he was in office, have been forced to reinvent themselves as fiscal skinflints.

    Reinvention? They're just cross-dressing as fiscally responsible. Get them back to your place, lift their skirts, and suffer a massive disappointment

  • HeroicMulatto||

    Stop othering!

    Not cool, invisible furry hand, not cool.

  • invisible furry hand||

    there i go, microaggressing again

  • ||

    Speaking of aggression, methinks there will be a fair bit less of it against H&R this morning. But sadly, I'll probably be wrong.

  • sticks||

    yeah you are wrong b/c most likely mstack and or if rather is just one of many trolls here.

    rather might be mstack but i doubt either is WI.

  • HeroicMulatto||

    Yes. The hydra has many heads.

  • Fibertarians love whining||

    Especially when they can't compete.

  • invisible furry hand||

    ^ Dammit boys, you woke it up ^

  • 655321||

    The hydra has many heads.

    And sticks is probably one of them.

  • sticks||

    heh. No.

  • Can't compete, boys?||

    Then cry some more, losers.

  • HeroicMulatto||

    By the way, have a gander at the comments from the soi-disant 'tolerant progressives' of the MSNBC crowd on this article.

  • invisible furry hand||

    Urrgh. That was painful.

    In the article it said "He suspected that she was born male", but not why. More details!

  • ||

    "She had hands like Andre the Giant and an Adam's Apple as big as her balls."

  • invisible furry hand||

    "but she's still my gal, dammit!"

  • ||

    Why does that person hate free association?

  • invisible furry hand||

    who's "that person", sloopy?

    To clarify, the urrgh was directed not at the right of free association but the comments opining on the nature of gender, sexuality etc

  • ||

    "That person" is the dong-less dude that lied on his application to enter a woman's pageant. I didn't want to say "woman" so as not to insult the pre-op TG women out there who haven't had their junk cut off yet, and I did not want to say "man" so as not to offend the post-op TG women out there that have.

    "That person" seemed to me to be the most accurate and gender appropriate descriptor of a dude who had his pecker cut off and a sleeve stuck in its place, had a Y-chromosome but had taken hormones to the point that his body was a confused mess and could not enter any athletic event as a woman.

  • invisible furry hand||

    thanks - wasn't sure if you meant the would-be contestant or the commenters on the article or me.

    Can I steal "dong-less dude"? It would make a sweet t-shirt slogan

  • ||

    It would make a sweet t-shirt slogan

    I hope you have an arrow underneath it pointing to the left or right if you plan to wear it. Or are you using this opportunity to tell us something we didn't know about you?

    (I keed :-P)

  • ||

    And feel free to steal it. I hate IP.

  • ||

    What difference does it make, really? Unless you plan to have a family why does it make a huge difference to people what may or may not be (or have been) between someones legs?

  • ||

    She's only slightly more artificial than any other beauty queen. They are all buffed, snipped, sculpted and taped up into to ersatz women anyway.

  • ||

    I have a rule, NutraSweet: born with a dick makes you a dude for life.

    And that rule has served me well so far.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    "Ersatz Women" would be a good name for klezmer/punk fusion band.

  • Eric||

    I'd take it to the next level sloopy. If "she" has anything but XX chromosomes, "she's" not a female in my book. Don't give a shit what the LGBT crowd says on this subject. However I stick with the NTTAWWT principle for those who think differently.

  • Jenna Talackova||

    That's not a dick....it's a large clit.

  • Arlen Specter||

    One time in the Senate steam-room I lifted Teddy Kennedy's skirt. It was massive, but not a disappointment.

  • Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook||

    Drop your panties, Sir William, I cannot wait until lunchtime!

  • ||

    -- the Medicare prescription drug program, No Child Left Behind, a trillion-dollar war based on false claims --

    It was a bullshit war, but the WMD claim was not false. Just ask the Kurds, or the US soldiers attacked wit a roadside bomb laced with sarin during the war, or just read this well-footnoted blog post on the subject.

    Bush was a douche and the war was immoral. Those are true, but the no WMD claim is just false.

  • HeroicMulatto||

    Indeed. However, I think Chapman is referring to the claim that those WMDs were an existential threat to the U.S., i.e. Iraq was just itching to let al- Qaeda get their grubby little paws on them.

    Anyone who knows anything about the Iran-Iraq war knows that Iraq had already possessed and used WMDs in the 80s. But that would require the public to have a memory past the last season of American Idol.

  • HeroicMulatto||

  • ||

    ...well, we've always practiced to deceive, so what do we expect?

  • DJF||

    The Kurds were attacked before Iraq was disarmed of WMD's

    That roadside bomb was probably a left over chemical shell that some insurgent found, the same kind of abandoned chemical shells that litter US military bases. I don’t think we needed thousand of US dead and trillions in debt for one chemical shell

  • ||

    but the children!!!

  • Fibertarians love telling lies||

  • ||

    I don’t think we needed thousand of US dead and trillions in debt for one chemical shell

    Were the thousands killed at Halabja and other places worth it, though? I'd still say they aren't, but I'd at least be honest about it.

  • ||

    The Iraq war hasn't quite reached a trillion dollars in costs yet. In any case, that's 1 "stimulus" and about 2/3 of our current annual budget deficit.

  • Joe M||

    I think Jeb might have been a halfway decent president. Certainly, he would've been better than Dubya.

  • ||

    From what I've heard, Jeb is a better and more conservative politician than George. That narrow loss in the 1994 election put his brother ahead of him career wise - to everyone's surprise.

    Jeb's not my first pick, but just because he has the same last name, doesn't mean he would make the same mistakes as his brother.

  • ||

    Jeb's not my first pick, but just because he has the same last name, doesn't mean he would make the same mistakes as his brother.

    True. Alois Hitler, Jr., although a bigamist, was a pretty decent guy.

  • ||

    Why the hate for the bigamy lifestyle?

  • ||

    Because you made a contract with the first woman when you married her.

    FWIW, I have no problem with polygamy or polyandry. However, when you have a contract with one woman that says you will not marry another while still married to them, you need to honor that contract and dissolve the marriage before starting another one.

  • Apatheist ಠ_ರೃ||

    Why couldn't both parties agree to amend the contract rather than dissolving it?

  • DJF||

    I am not against Jebb because he is a Bush, I am against him because he will not do things much differently then Obama/Bush/Clinton/Bush etc.

    The US will not get out of the mess its in by following the same policies that got the US into the mess its in.

  • Every Politician||

    The US will not get out of the mess its in by following the same policies that got the US into the mess its in.

    That's my policy.

    Uh, wait a minute, that doesn't sound right ....

  • Comcast Sucks||

    I want Jeb just to watch liberal heads explode. If we're going to get the usual Team Purple BS, it might as well be entertaining.

  • you a KOCHsucker?||

    You should care that the Kochs are seizing Cato
    A libertarian think tank that does good work could become another well-funded arm of the Republican Party
    www.salon.com/2012/03/05/you_s.....singleton/

  • sticks||

    Ed Crane is an ass. The Koch's are assess. Who cares?

  • sticks||

    *the koch brothers are asses

  • The Law||

    Not me.

    I'm an ass too.

  • who cares? LOL, Fibertard!||

    The Reason Foundation is funded, in part, by what are known as the "Koch Family Foundations," and David Koch serves as a Reason trustee.

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/ind.....Foundation

    Going to try to deny links to fucking weird Randroidism next, fibber?

    It is part of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation network.

  • sticks||

    I deny nothing. I don't care who funds reason or whatever. I DONT CARE. Do you understand?

  • Bullshit Detector||

    My Meter is Pegged.

  • sticks||

    Great. I still don't care.

  • you mad bro?||

  • Fluffy||

    Right, but it was always their money, and they were always half the board.

    Cato was Koch controlled BEFORE.

  • KOCHsucker apologists||

    Stalin had the same Fluffy types everywhere too.

    Mentioning Stalin....

    Koch lived up to the slogan: “Work hard enough for Comrade Stalin to thank you!”

    A People’s History of Koch Industries: How Stalin Funded the Tea Party Movement
    http://exiledonline.com/a-peop.....-movement/

  • Market FundaMENTALists||

    Like their Biblical FundaMENTAList brethren, are always trying to create Hell and suffering for all but the elect few.

    And with libertarian elections going as they do, that's damn few.

  • ||

    Where do you see this trolling of yours going?

    Don't you have something better to do?

    Maybe you could take an art class at the community college or something!

  • rather troll alert||

    The above post appears to have been made by an individual who assumes multiple identities, including, but not limited to, "Mary Stack", "rather", and "White Indian".

    Please do not reply to posts made by this person or attempt to engage in debate.

    Characteristics of postings by this person include use of bold and italics, cutting and pasting of writings by Jason Godesky (who appears to not be involved), debating in bad faith, and making large quantities of posts 24/7.

    Thank you for your cooperation.

  • Sarah Palin||

    What am I, chopped salmon?

  • ||

    No, you're an ass as well.

  • Comcast Sucks||

    You should care that the Kochs are seizing Cato

    Stop microaggressing against me.

  • ||

    I thought Caesar already tried.

  • shrike||

    A.B.U.

  • Loki||

    In their younger days, Jeb was always known as "the smart brother." George, says biographer Robert Draper, was "the family chucklehead."

    I almost have to wonder if "dubya" fucked things up on purpose to ruin the family name just to get back at his little brother. That would certainly explain the rank incompetence of his administration.

    I suppose the simpler explanation is that he really was the family screw up all along. Really we did get the "wrong Bush" as president, and now we'll probably never know what kind of president Jeb would be. Oh well, the whole country's going down in flames anyway, so none of it really matters.

  • ||

    W had lots of help on his domestic blunders. His sin was signing everything the Rinos running Congress sent him. Hastert, Frist, Lott, Santorum and the rest.

    Why a temporary tax cut? Why Medicare Part D? Why all the waste, wasn't that supposed to be what they are against?

    The one time Bush woke up and proposed actual entitlement reform, in the form of Social Security partial privatization, it was comical how fast the Rinos ran for the hills.

  • ||

    I think if the Republicans are absolutely determined to lose this election, putting "Bush" on the ballot would be the way to go.

    And rightly so. We've got too many political dynasties in this country. You couldn't go wrong by voting against any candidate for the sole reason that their mother/father/brother/sister has already held elective office.

  • ||

    Yeah.

    This election is about whether to get rid of Obama; it isn't really about whether Romney or anybody else should be president. It's a referendum on Obama.

    The Republicans would just screw that up by putting a Bush on the ballot.

    The "Bush" word to swing voters is like a crucifix to vampires.

  • ||

    I disagree. It is about Romney et al. It's about whether the GOP is okay with nominating someone that might win in November and potentially stay in office for 8 years. According to Santorum, electing Romney is tantamount to re-electing Obama. And if that's the case, then that could potentially mean 12 years of "Obama." The Tea Party's worst nightmare.

  • Realist||

    Jeb Bush is a chickenshit idiot like his father and brother. He stated that the "Stand your ground law did not apply to the Zimmerman-Martin case. Who the fuck is he to decide that???

  • ||

    The fact that the GOP is having such a hard time coming up with a single candidate indicates to me that they are the only of the two main parties with a shred of hope. It means that the majority of the conservative voters do not obligingly fall in love with anyone that runs on their ticket.

    As for Bush, I wonder about anyone who critically brings him back into the fray. If you think Obama is a pretty neat guy, just come out and say it. Don't think you can trick a libertarian into thinking that Bush was more Obama than Obama.

  • ||

    Not that Bush was a libertarian, but Obama makes him look like Coolidge.

  • ||

    Obama makes Clinton look like Coolidge.

  • Chapman's Amnesia||

    Steve Chapman

    1. Who are you voting for in November? Barack Obama, for two main reasons: The Republican Party, which has jettisoned its best inclinations and indulged its worst for the last eight years, richly deserves exile from the White House, and 2) because he shows an intelligence and temperament that suggest he will govern more pragmatically than ideologically—the best that can be hoped for from a Democratic president.

    So collapses all credibility of the traitor who wrote this article. Lie in your coffin and rot, Chapman. Same goes for all the rest of you "Reason" writers who shilled for and voted this Communist parasite and all of his cronies into power.

  • wef||

    Calling this crony-capitalist president a commie parasite must be the subtle humor of the ironic type favored here.

    In any case, being a slow naif, I agree that the repubes do deserve exile. To even contemplate the noble House of Bush again as pretenders to the throne is to indulge in the servile power worship to which repubes have become habituated. More to the point.....

    The republican party must be destroyed.

  • ||

    Since when did the Democrats cut loose Jimmy Carter? He's on TV constantly. They did an award-winning documentary about him not too long ago. He was race-shilling for Obama in '08, '09 and '10. In my state, he was recently lauded by our local media for fighting to remove all hydroelectric dams from our rivers, leaving us without sufficient capacity to replace it. And his virulently anti-Semitic book was a NYT Best Seller. On the contrary, Mr. Chapman, Carter is a Democratic Party idol.

  • lunettes de soleil chanel||

    yeah..

  • Albert||

    Do they have rights for election?

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