Via Buzzfeed and Ben Smith, Jeb Bush's comments today at a meeting at the Bloomberg HQs in New York are interesting and aimed at the day when the GOP has de-fevered itself:
"Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my dad — they would have a hard time if you define the Republican party — and I don’t — as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement, doesn’t allow for finding some common ground," Bush said, adding that he views the hyper-partisan moment as "temporary."
"Back to my dad’s time and Ronald Reagan’s time – they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan suport," he said. Reagan "would be criticized for doing the things that he did."
Bush called the present partisan climate "disturbing."
"It’s just a different environment left and right," he said of "this dysfunction."
And Bush also blamed President Obama for much of the conflict.
"His first year could have been a year of enormous accomplishment had he focused on things where there was more common ground," he said, arguing that Obama had made a "purely political calculation" to run a sharply partisan administration.
I trust he doesn't really believe that last nonsense but just feels he has to say it. Even if you believe the stimulus was just pork, there's no way you can be a logical earthling and think Obama could have had a first year of "enormous accomplishment." The GOP decided that its job was to drive down his positives from day one, so it wasn't going to go along with anything he did, unless he pursued a radical right-wing agenda, which was bloody unlikely.
That said, as far as I can remember, Bush is the best-known non-retired Republican to invoke Reagan in this way and say that the great man could not be accommodated in today's GOP. So he deserves a point for saying that.
But just one point, no more. Bush doesn't yet have the courage to say all the things that need to be said. Jacob Weisberg, who was there in the room, tweeted: "Jeb excoriates Obama for not backing Simpson-Bowles, then admits he would have been against it because of tax increases."
All this raises the question of whether we're going to have to endure yet another Bush. I suppose this will never end. Romneys too. Five sons after all. Surely a couple of them are going to go into the family business. There will never be any reprieve from these people. Even so, a Jeb-Hillary match up in 2016 could be spicy.