Jeb Bush: The GOP Candidate Democrats Want

AP Photo/J. Pat Carter
AP Photo/J. Pat Carter
New York

You wouldn’t know that the fawning New York Magazine piece on Jeb Bush was written by someone who “agrees with exactly nothing the governor says,” if they didn’t tell you. Clearly, Jeb is the choice of liberal Democrats. Perhaps they inherently sense that Hillary Clinton would make short work of him in a general election.

Jennifer Senior writes for New York Magazine:

Anyone who’s familiar with Jeb, though, doesn’t seem nearly as fixated on this episode as members of the national press corps. They know that freestyling is his natural political mode. As governor, Jeb genuinely enjoyed mixing it up with local reporters, almost always fielding more queries than his staff would have liked. “He’d do a five-minute gaggle” — mediaspeak for a mini press conference — “and you’d get five stories,” says Adam C. Smith, the political editor of the Tampa Bay Times. “He’d think out loud, he liked to banter. Compared to Charlie Crist, who never said anything, he was fun to cover.” But now, it seems, the very qualities that served Jeb well with the Florida press — spontaneity, authenticity — are serving him poorly on the national stage. Which is a shame, in its way: One of the pleasures of being around him, day to day, on the stump, is his enthusiasm for speaking off the cuff. (And I report this, it should be noted, as a person who agrees with exactly nothing the governor says.)

In fact, they want you to believe Jeb is a super-duper conservative, as if they even know what that means, let alone see it as a good thing: “Jeb Bush is more ruthless than he looks, more conservative than moderates like to believe, and possibly more appealing to Latinos than Marco,” they tell us. Talk about a hard sell.

Yet, in the article you’ll find this:

… During the past eight years, while Jeb’s been absent from politics, a whole movement — the tea party — began to bloom. Yet rather than pandering to it, or even being mindful of it, the governor is running in outright defiance of the movement’s aesthetics and (in some very notable cases) intellectual preferences, as if it didn’t exist at all. This could be the biggest challenge Jeb faces, and it’s one entirely of his own making.

When asked if Loretta Lynch, Obama’s nominee for attorney general, should be confirmed, he answered that, yes, she should: “It shouldn’t always be partisan.” He has steadfastly refused to sign Grover Norquist’s pledge not to raise taxes. He has only slightly modified his views on Common Core, which the tea party despises — an irony given how many conservatives originally supported it, and how incensed the teachers unions were by Jeb’s radical education reforms. He talks passionately about legalizing the status of undocumented immigrants, which likely infuriates the tea party even more. Asked if he tips at Chipotle, where Hillary did not, he simply replies that he likes to make his own Mexican food. He leaves red meat on the table. And he seldom tosses it to audiences.

What Democrats see in Jeb is more likely a pliable Republican, the kind they know would be little different than a Democrat were he to win the White House. And that’s precisely what the current GOP base is tired of, perhaps explaining why NY Mag‘s favorite Republican is struggling among genuine conservatives—as opposed to liberal writers based in New York.