Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush came in for an avalanche of criticism from conservatives for saying that Ronald Reagan and his father, former President George H.W. Bush, “would have a hard time” getting nominated in today’s Republican Party.
Speaking to reporters and editors at Bloomberg News on Monday, Bush said:
“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,”
“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.”
For his trouble, Jeb has now been branded a RINO, having angered that perpetually outraged faction of right wingers whose self-appointed duties include keeping party members on the straight and narrow — and unthinking path — of “true” conservatism. This, despite the fact that many of these same Guardians of the Sacred Chalice of Orthodoxy were begging Jeb to run for president just a few months ago and save them from the scourge of Romneyism.
Why criticism of one’s own party equates with the notion of disloyalty or ideological impurity is a mystery. The GOP is not the politburo, but the conservative NKVD in the blogosphere acts as if it is. Evidently, echoing the criticism of some liberals is reason enough to throw the heretic into the Lubyanka and toss away the key.
Nevertheless, the reaction among some conservatives to Governor Bush’s statements was puzzling. Bryan Preston of the PJ Tatler wrote:
The GOP has nominated a Bush in 2000, re-nominated him in 2004, and then nominated centrist John McCain in 2008 and centrist Mitt Romney in 2012.
[T]he GOP is so extreme our last two nominees have been John McCain and Mitt Romney . … I am so sick and tired of this garbage.
Jebadummy Bush says that his father, as well as Reagan, would have a tough time getting nominated today because the republican party is too ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE. He says this while Romney swept through the primaries like a hot knife through butter.
No, Jeb Bush was not saying that today’s GOP is too “extreme” or “ultra-conservative.” Reading what isn’t there will always get a blogger in trouble. In this case, the bloggers quoted above, as well as many others, stepped in it.
Bush did not say Reagan was more moderate than today’s candidates. He said that the Gipper’s record of cooperating with Democrats in Sacramento would be a strike against him for many modern Republicans. And imagine the hue and cry that would have gone up on the right if Reagan had to deal with today’s Republicans when, as president, he raised taxes and didn’t shrink the government as he promised, not to mention working closely with Democrats to pass his tax-cut package, budget package, and defense buildup.