George H.W. Bush, 91, still confused by conservatism



Former President H.W. Bush is 91 years old and is confused. If I were 91 years old I imagine I'd be confused about some things too, but hopefully not about conservatism. Bush can't understand why voters have rejected his son Jeb, whose agenda of open borders, amnesty, and common core are anathema to conservative voters:

These are confounding days for the Bush family and the network of advisers, donors and supporters who have helped sustain a political dynasty that began with the Senate victory by Prescott Bush, the older Mr. Bush’s father, in Connecticut 63 years ago. They have watched the rise of Donald J. Trump with alarm, and seen how Jeb Bush, the onetime Florida governor, has languished despite early advantages of political pedigree and campaign money.

No one, it seems, is more perplexed than the family patriarch by the race, and by what the Republican Party has become in its embrace of anti-establishment outsiders, especially the sometimes rude Mr. Trump.

Bush doesn't get it. But then, he never did. From the moment he ran for President he promised a "kinder, gentler" conservatism, implicitly saying that Ronald Reagan's embrace of the free market was too harsh. Once elected, after saying "Read my lips, no new taxes", he raised taxes and increased spending. He didn't cut the size of government but expanded it, signing business crushing legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act which forced very expensive and often unnecessary rules down businesses' throats. (Does every small hotel swimming pool really need an expensive chairlift?)

Because Bush never understood conservatism, or conservatives, he cannot understand why voters are rejecting Jeb. If he didn't understand before, he's certainly not going to understand it now.

This cluenessness extends beyond Bush to his clique of Bushies and Bushettes:

“I have no feeling for the electorate anymore,” said John H. Sununu, the former New Hampshire governor who helped the elder Mr. Bush win the 1988 primary there and went on to serve as his White House chief of staff. “It is not responding the way it used to. Their priorities are so different that if I tried to analyze it I’d be making it up.”

Sununu is the one who brought us Supreme Court Justice David Souter, who had no record. "Trust us!" Sununu said. Well, we did, and with his help Bush put one of the most liberal members on the Supreme Court. It's no wonder Sununu is confused.

The Times article discussing this had a picture of Barbara Bush having a Jeb! sign on her walker. I know she meant well, but it unintentionally conveys the symbolism of, dare I say it, a low-energy and out of touch candidacy, almost like a Simpson's cartoon.

Jeb is clueless too, which is why he is flailing around, calling himself a great "disruptor", literally putting audiences to sleep with his rhetoric, and viewing the law as a pretzel which can be twisted to suit his purposes.

(Abridged version originally published in AT)



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