Despite all of the discussion that Governor Jeb Bush is a principled thinker we’ve stated time and again his is simply an opportunistic politician who lacks his brother’s gift for connecting with ordinary folks or his father’s gift for intellect. Instead Bush’s political career is characterized by a bad temper and sense of entitlement.
The latest Florida polling shows Bush slipping further behind front-runner Donald Trump in the state he led for eight years. The poll also shows Senator Marco Rubio surging ahead of Bush in the state. Rubio’s approach of appearing to be a mature ideologue seems to be working with some in the GOP primary.
Bush’s problems in the polls have pushed the candidate to embrace the types of right-wing themes he previously avoided. Despite regularly speaking in Spanish on the campaign trail, Bush has now embraced more populist themes regarding ethnicity, race and immigration. One such issue is multiculturalism.
Multiculturalism, I will admit is a difficult issue. While I pride myself as a tolerant liberal I have studied what the full implementation of a multicultural education can do in the United Kingdom and it has made assimilation more difficult and in some cases dangerous. But it can be argued the British who conquered half the world and subjected some of the very same ethnicity to subjugation owe it to those populations. Perhaps Americans do as well, but it is a controversial topic. Still I believe some degree of multiculturalism is needed in education. How far we should go, however is subject to discussion.
Another issue is terrorism and the Iraq War. Bush has doubled-down on the George W. Bush/Don Rumsfeld/ Paul Wolfowitz foreign policy of the post 9/11-world. This is after all a foreign policy built on lies and sacrificing US lives for the false illusion of “safety.” Governor Bush has claimed his brother kept Americans safe after 9/11, but in fact American interests abroad have never been put in as much danger as the Bush team put them in. Bush’s brother squandered the sympathy of the world (including ironically from Iran) and turned not only former foe, but long-time allies against us. The breakdown of the partnership between the United States on one hand and France/Germany on the other led to devastating consequences for our nation’s security and economic interests globally.
While many Republicans don’t like the multilateral approach of the Obama Administration, they would admit the unilateral efforts in Iraq (or the Anglo-American efforts which might as well be unilateral because the UK has long seized to be an independent operator on the global stage, thus anti-Americanism since the Iraq War began has become a trademark issue of the British left) caused greater harm than good in retrospect. But Bush has sought to embrace a legacy that saw the Middle East and Central Asia become a far more dangerous and radicalized place than it was before.
On the Florida front, Bush who struggled to balance budgets often requiring multiple special sessions to get things done right and fought regularly with members of his own party who were leaders in the legislature has revised history as well. Governor Bush claims he was a tax cutter who united the Republican Party behind his agenda. That wasn’t the case at all. By 2005, Bush was so unpopular in certain GOP legislative circles that he couldn’t get through the Senate his most important agenda items. In some cases his team didn’t even bother to lobby GOP Senators that they knew would oppose them.
Desperation for an unprincipled political creature like Governor Bush can lead to all sorts of interesting comments. It will be fascinating to see how Bush continues to pivot and what he says if his fortunes continue to diminish as they appear to be doing now.