Jeb Bush is taking a page out of the Ronald Reagan playbook and, unlike other Republicans who cite the late President ad nauseum, the former Florida Governor is making some sense politically in both what he is saying and how he is articulating it.
My view of Jeb Bush, particularly on education issues, are well-documented. As a veteran of the bruising legislative and political battles of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the thought of a Jeb Bush Presidency is anathema to everything I have stood for.
But today Bush is strangely sounding like a real grown up, not the arrogant, vengeful ideologically-motivated governor of Florida he once was. Like Ronald Reagan he is tapping into optimistic themes and sounding strangely reasonable. This of course ends when it comes to school “choice” where he still seeks to experiment on Florida’s school kids, using his allies in the legislature to push a dangerous anti-public school agenda.
However, on the national level, Bush has tried to out do his one-time protege Senator Marco Rubio, who has attempted to recast himself as a policy wonk, by taking a “sunny side up” approach to issues.
A few of Bush’s new hopeful themes will likely run into trouble with the Tea Party should he seek the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. Included in these are his strong advocacy of immigration reform, his support of Common Core standards and his continued efforts to strike a more moderate tone on budgetary issues.
Bush’s credibility among Latino voters will give him an opportunity were he nominated in 2016 to make it a real race in Florida. Demographics have turned heavily against the GOP and a Bush nomination may be the easiest way for the party to temporarily stop the bleeding among Hispanics. The way the former Florida Governor is talking, however, he will have a very difficult time in the GOP nominating process. For years the Republicans have been a hierarchical party, where insurgent candidates generally fizzle out. That would seem to favor Bush.
The new GOP, though, seems to be a differently styled party. Tea Party influence appears to be dictating that those whose turn it might be (i.e. Bush or Congressman Paul Ryan) need to be defeated. While this sentiment has never carried a GOP nomination since (arguably) Barry Goldwater in 1964, it would appear 2016 is the right time for the Republican establishment to suffer a major defeat at the presidential nominating level.
Governor Bush’s recent comments will certainly do more to alienate him from the fringe elements seeking to control the process. Still, it is very possible Bush’s “Morning in America”-style rhetoric could see his return to the top tier of GOP presidential candidates and potentially the heir apparent for the party’s under-siege establishment wing.