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“Jeb’s Past vs Jeb’s Future”: A Forgiving Standard For Himself And A Punitive Standard For Everyone Else

There’s nothing in American public life quite like the scrutiny of a presidential campaign. Credible candidates can expect to see their entire lives dissected in granular ways that are often unflattering, and it’s up to voters to decide whether, and to what extent, a presidential hopeful’s life experiences matter.

With this in mind, the Boston Globe ran a lengthy feature over the weekend on former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a leading Republican presidential candidate, who apparently had a troubled youth.

He bore little resemblance to his father, a star on many fronts at Andover, and might have been an even worse student than brother George. Classmates said he smoked a notable amount of pot – as many did – and sometimes bullied smaller students. […]

Meanwhile, his grades were so poor that he was in danger of being expelled, which would have been a huge embarrassment to his father, a member of Congress and of the school’s board of trustees.

At this point, I suspect many Republicans are thinking, “He was a dumb teenager and none of this tells us anything important about his character now.” It’s a perfectly legitimate defense – as brutal as a presidential vetting process is, there has to be a limit on how closely we look at candidates’ backgrounds, especially before they were even adults.

I imagine we can all look back at our high-school years and think of things we should have handled differently. Presidential politics can tolerate some statutes of limitations on teen-aged stupidity.

But in this particular case, the Globe’s look at Jeb Bush’s past may have some relevance to contemporary policy disputes.

Sen. Rand Paul says it’s hypocritical for Jeb Bush to oppose legalizing marijuana given that Bush smoked a fair amount at prep school. “You would think he’d have a little more understanding then,” Paul told The Hill while en route to a political event in Texas.

“He was even opposed to medical marijuana,” Paul said of Bush. “This is a guy who now admits he smoked marijuana but he wants to put people in jail who do.”

The Kentucky Republican, a likely Bush rival for the 2016 nomination, went on to say, “I think that’s the real hypocrisy, is that people on our side, which include a lot of people who made mistakes growing up, admit their mistakes but now still want to put people in jail for that…. Had he been caught at Andover, he’d have never been governor, he’d probably never have a chance to run for the presidency.”

I don’t say this often, but Rand Paul raises a good point.

If Jeb Bush said his drug use in high school was a long time ago, it was a teen-aged mistake, and he’d like voters to overlook his youthful indiscretions, the issue would be a non-factor in the campaign.

But that’s not quite the situation we’re confronted with here. Rather, Bush seems to support one forgiving standard for himself and a punitive standard for everyone else.

As a politician, Bush has not embraced marijuana. He spent much of his time as Florida governor championing jail instead of treatment for nonviolent drug offenders, and pushed for mandatory prison sentences for drug offenders – with the exception of his daughter, Noelle, who has struggled with crack cocaine use.

More recently, while acknowledging that states should “have a right” to decide on the legalization of marijuana, Bush publicly opposed an amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Florida.

Overlooking a presidential candidate’s high-school-era mistakes is easy. Overlooking a presidential candidate who punishes those for making the same mistakes he made is far more difficult.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 2, 2015

February 5, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul | , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Young Are The Restless”: The Days In The Lives Of All Our Children Are Rapidly Changing

The surge of generational change continues in this country, altering the cultural landscape with a speed and intensity that has rarely — if ever — been seen before.

The latest remarkable change concerns the decriminalization of the use of marijuana. A poll released Thursday by the Pew Research Center found that for the first time more Americans support legalizing marijuana use than oppose it.

It was rather unsurprising that more young people would support the move, but it was striking how quickly they adopted a more liberal position. About seven years ago, millennials (defined by Pew as people born in 1981 or later), Generation Xers (those born between 1965 and 1980) and baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) shared the same view on marijuana: Only about a third thought it should be legalized. Since then, the share of millennials supporting its legalization has risen more than 90 percent. Meanwhile, the number of legalization supporters in Generation X and among the baby boomers has risen by no more than 60 percent.

The millennial generation is the generation of change. Millennials’ views on a broad range of policy issues are so different from older Americans’ perspectives that they are likely to reshape the political dialogue faster than the political class can catch up.

I surveyed the past six months of Pew and Gallup polls, to better understand the portrait of a generation bent on rapid change — even if that means standing alone.

ON GAY MARRIAGE Much has been made of the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage in this country, but a Pew poll last month found that that the change is driven mainly by millennials. Theirs was the only generation in which a majority (70 percent) supported same-sex marriage; theirs was also the only generation even more likely to be in favor of it in 2013 than in 2012, as support in the other generations ticked down. The longer-term picture is even more telling. Support for same sex-marriage among Generation X is the same in 2013 as it was in 2001 (49 percent). But among millennials, support is up 40 percent since 2003, the first year they were included in the survey.

Some of this no doubt is the result of younger adults’ having more exposure to people who openly identify as LGBT. According to an October Gallup poll, young adults between 18 and 30 were at least twice as likely to identify as LGBT as any other age group.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean that millennials overwhelmingly agree, on a moral level, with same-sex relationships. In fact, a survey released last year by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University in conjunction with the Public Religion Research Institute found that they “are nearly evenly divided over whether sex between two adults of the same gender is morally acceptable.”

ON GUN CONTROL According to a February Gallup report, Americans ages 18 to 29 are the least likely to own guns, with just 20 percent saying that they do. That is well under the national average of 30 percent of Americans who own guns.

And in a Pew poll taken shortly after the Newtown, Conn., shootings, younger Americans were the most likely to say that gun control was a bigger concern in this country than protecting the right to own a gun. (Younger respondents barely edged out seniors with this sentiment.)

In fact, a Gallup poll found that the percentage of those 18 to 34 years old saying they want the nation’s gun laws and policies to be stricter doubled from January 2012 to 2013. No other age group saw such a large increase.

It is remarkable that young people’s opinions shifted so dramatically, especially since a December Pew poll found that young adults under 30 were the least likely to believe that the shootings in Newtown reflect broader problems in American society. This age group was, in fact, the most likely to believe that such shootings are simply the isolated acts of troubled individuals.

Young people also are the least religious (more than a quarter specify no religion when asked), and they are an increasingly diverse group of voters. Fifty-eight percent of voters under 30 were white non-Hispanic in 2012, down from 74 percent in 2000. Like it or not, younger Americans are thirsty for change that lines up with their more liberal cultural worldview.

Advantage Democrats.

 

By: Charles M. Blow, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, April 5, 2013

April 8, 2013 Posted by | Cultural Issues | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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