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“It’s Looking Like Mother Knew Best”: The Reason Jeb Looks So Miserable

Here’s a thought experiment for you. Imagine you could find a person who didn’t know 1) who Jeb Bush was or 2) what pursuit he was involved in. You showed the person a video clip of a Bush press conference or speech, but with the sound turned down, and you asked the person, just based on the expression on Bush’s face and the hang of his shoulders and whatnot, where is this man, and what is he doing?

I think your person would say something like: “Well…he looks like he’s at a funeral. Attending the funeral of a friend’s mother. Or maybe not even a friend. Maybe a co-worker, or employee. He didn’t know the woman. But he’s there, because he needs to be, and he’s paying his respects. ‘I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m sure she was a wonderful woman.’ He’s doing his duty, but he also looks like he’d really rather be somewhere else.”

Bush has a lot of problems, which have become excruciatingly evident this week as he’s managed to offend Latinos and Asians and women (again) while still making no apparent headway with the kinds of people you’re supposed to make headway with by offending the aforementioned. But when you get right down to it, this is his problem. The Donald pegged him. He is a “low-energy person.” He looks like he has only the barest minimum interest in doing this.

On some level, politics is all about the gene. John Ellis doesn’t have it. No zest. No happy warrior thing going on at all. Say what you will about Dubya, and trust me, I said most of it at one time or another. But he had the gene. He liked politics. He enjoyed campaigning. He pinned his shoulders back up on stage, stood erect, gazed upon the crowd with something you might call command. Remember that smirk? Oh God how liberals hated that smirk! I remember how people on my side used to carry on about it, how it betrayed exactly the kind of shoot-first cowboy braggadocio that liberals find repulsive—and indeed, that ended up fucking up a big part of the world to this day. So we were right about that smirk. But at least he was smiling. At least he was up there having fun.

But Jeb. Yeesh. What’s he doing out there? It’s just duty. And not family duty either. Remember, his mom said he shouldn’t do it. His wife seems cool on it. At best. So it’s not family. It’s mostly party duty. Duty to the money people. Class duty.

Watching him I sometimes wonder: How did this guy get to be a governor? One thing I’ve learned in my years of covering politics, one of the more surprising things, I would say, is just how many utter mediocrities become governors. This is understandable in a lot of those puny states out there where the competition ain’t so great. And where either one party or the other is clearly dominant. So if you’re a Republican state legislator in Wyoming and you have a little charisma, or a Democratic mayor of Providence who has successfully avoided indictment for eight years, well, you can get to be governor. The road is not laid with many traps.

But Florida’s a big state. Probably a lot of talent there, comparatively speaking. How did Bush do it? Well, he was elected (1998) at a time when his last name was still a plus. And he was a Republican, and Florida elects Republican governors as a rule—I mean crikey, they’ve twice voted in a guy who swindled the federal government on Medicare, which many voters probably saw as a plus. So that’s all it took. He was a Republican, and his name was Bush.

But now that his last name is a liability, even (or especially) among GOP primary voters, he has to go out and get it, and the first step in getting it is wanting it, and he doesn’t seem to want it. In fact it looks like he dreads the thought of becoming president. Or is indifferent to it, which might be worse. Candidates have problems that they can fix. But how do you fix that problem?

So here’s how things seem to be shaping up, maybe. There’s going to be Trump. And then, after the rattle and hum of the first few contests, and the Perrys and Jindals and so forths have gone on their merry ways, there’s going to be one anointed non-Trump, whom the party’s panjandrums decide to get behind collectively in order to stop Trump. And that person is likely to be either Bush or Scott Walker or Marco Rubio or John Kasich. Or maybe someone else. (What’s that I hear you say? Mitt Romney? Not, at this point, an insane idea. Think about it.)

The non-Trump should easily and clearly have been Bush. And it still could be. I notice that still this week, even while Bush is getting slagged by everybody, the political futures market continues to rate him the favorite for the Republican nomination. So the wisdom of the crowd still says Bush, but we sense that it’s said in the same way that people might say “New England” or “Seattle” when asked who’ll win next year’s Super Bowl. The answer doesn’t reflect thought and analysis, just resigned reflex.

So he could still be the nominee, and by definition that means he could still be the next president. But as of now, he looks to have the makings of being one of the biggest flops in the history of presidential politics. A year ago all the experts thought otherwise, and sometimes the experts are right, but in this case, it’s looking like Mother knew best.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, August 28, 2015

August 29, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, GOP Primaries, Jeb Bush | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Ultimately Responsible For Republican Inaction”: Whether He Likes It Or Not, Boehner Controls Immigration Bill’s Fate

For months, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) tried to blame President Obama for House Republicans’ refusal to consider immigration reform: GOP lawmakers don’t trust the White House, the argument went, so the administration’s responsible for Republican intransigence. A few weeks ago, however, Boehner accidentally told the truth: House Republicans, afraid of hard work and tough choices, are ultimately responsible for inaction on the issue.

So which is it? As a matter of substance, the Speaker’s accidental honesty gave away the game, but as a matter of politics, it’s awkward when the House Republican leader blames his own members for a colossal failure – so now Boehner seems to be pushing both arguments simultaneously.

The Ohio Republican, speaking at a luncheon sponsored by several San Antonio business groups, acknowledged that there are some in his conference who do not want to take on the issue, but he was measured in speaking about his colleagues’ resistance.

“There are some members of our party who just do not want to deal with this. It’s no secret,” he said. “I do believe the vast majority of our members do want to deal with this, they want to deal with it openly, honestly and fairly.”

Boehner then added, “I put the ball back in the president’s court. He’s going to have to do something to demonstrate his trustworthiness.”

There are hints of good news here for reform proponents, but for the most part, the Speaker’s position is simply incoherent. If the “vast majority” of House Republicans want to tackle immigration reform, Boehner and his leadership team can … wait for it … tackle immigration reform. There’s nothing stopping them – they’re the House majority; they can do as they please; the Senate has already acted; and the White House is eager to sign something into law.

As for President Obama demonstrating his “trustworthiness,” the administration has already shown its commitment on this issue by increasing deportations and boosting border security to heights without modern precedent. What’s more, leading Democratic lawmakers have offered to delay implementation of the law until 2017, at which time there will be a new president.

Boehner has never been a policy guy, per se, but it’s implausible to think the Speaker of the House isn’t aware of these basic details. It’s what makes his odd rhetoric somewhat baffling – Boehner says Republicans are and aren’t interested in reform, while the president is and isn’t to blame for GOP intransigence.

The Speaker added, in reference to immigration reform in general, “This is not about politics, not about elections. It’s about doing the right thing for the American people. It’s about doing the right thing for the country. Period.”

That’s a perfectly nice sentiment, though it naturally leads one to wonder when, exactly, Boehner might stop talking about the issue and might start governing.

In the meantime, some of the Speaker’s allies are offering his party some not-so-subtle advice. Benjy Sarlin noted yesterday:

Republican-leaning immigration supporters, which include a variety of business leaders and trade associations, have been lobbying Republicans for a year to pass a reform bill. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue warned Republicans on Monday that failure to pass a bill this year would be fatal to the party’s presidential hopes given the rising power of Hispanic and Asian voters who are largely opposed to the GOP’s current immigration stance.

“If the Republicans don’t do it, they shouldn’t bother to run a candidate in 2016,” he said in a panel discussion. “I mean, think about that. Think about who the voters are.”

To borrow a metaphor, the ball is in Boehner’s court.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 13, 2014

 

 

 

May 15, 2014 Posted by | House Republicans, Immigration Reform, John Boehner | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yearning For A Whiter America: Michele Bachmann’s Misplaced Immigration Nostalgia

In both of this month’s Republican presidential debates, Rep. Michele Bachmann hailed what she evidently believes was the golden age of American immigration — the period before the mid-1960s when, she said, “immigration law worked beautifully.”

Ms. Bachmann’s nostalgia is touching but misplaced, unless she really pines for a return to laws that explicitly favored white immigrants from a handful of Northern European countries while excluding or disadvantaging Jews, Asians, Africans and practically everyone else.

Ms. Bachmann didn’t frame it that way, of course. She blamed “liberal members of Congress” for upsetting a system that she characterized as requiring immigrants to have money, sponsors, and clean health and criminal records. In Ms. Bachmann’s world, those immigrants would learn American history and to speak English.

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 fundamentally changed the system of immigration in this country but not in the way Ms. Bachmann evidently imagines. That law, pushed by Democrats including Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Rep. Emanuel Celler (D-N.Y.), threw out four decades of immigration quotas whose explicit goal was to emulate America’s ethnic balance as it stood in the year 1890, when the country remained overwhelmingly white.

Specifically, the 1965 measure ended a legal regime dating from the early 1920s that generally shut out Asians (especially Japanese) and capped immigration from Latin America, Eastern and Southern Europe, and other areas at very low levels. The effect was to overhaul that hidebound, exclusive quota system. The new system, whose cornerstone gave preference to family reunification and job skills, broadened what had been a narrow pool of immigrants to include soaring numbers of newcomers from Asia and Latin America.

The shift has contributed to the nation’s diversity, dynamism and rich cultural kaleidoscope even as it challenged society, especially schools, to accommodate waves of new Americans whose looks, language and customs were unfamiliar to their neighbors.

By talking about sponsorship, English-language competency and the like, Ms. Bachmann is either confused or deliberately misleading. Most legal immigrants are still required to have family or employer sponsors, as they did in the gauzy past she idealizes. As for learning English, American history and the like, those were, and remain, requirements for citizenship, not immigration.

Ms. Bachmann, whose campaign did not respond to a request for comment, may not care for the changes and effects wrought by the 1965 bill; many other critics on the right do not. Patrick Buchanan, for example, has blamed the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech on the immigration overhaul, noting that the gunman “was among the 864,000 Koreans here as a result of the Immigration Act of 1965, which threw the nation’s doors open to the greatest invasion in history, an invasion opposed by a majority of our people.” If Ms. Bachmann shares such views, let her address the issue honestly and head on, not in code.

 

By: Editorial Board, The Washington Post, September 15, 2011

September 17, 2011 Posted by | Bigotry, Birthers, Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Constitution, Democracy, Democrats, Education, Elections, Equal Rights, GOP, Government, Human Rights, Ideologues, Ideology, Immigrants, Immigration, Liberty, Politics, Racism, Republicans, Right Wing, Teaparty | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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