September 20, 2016


The Bush family isn’t put off so much by Trump’s policy proposals – except for immigration and free trade, the Bush family likely agrees with much of Trump’s left-leaning policy. They’re mostly put off by Trump’s attitude – his boorishness, his ignorance, his general sense of know-nothingism. To be fair, Trump clubbed Jeb! like a baby seal and the Bush family specifically during the debates; that had to draw some ire from the family. But for George H.W. Bush, the deciding factor was likely attitudinal: Trump just doesn’t belong. The Clintons, by dint of two decades in the White House spotlight, do.

This is one of the objections to Trump that many Trump supporters have a right to be angry about. It’s one thing to object to Trump based on policy differences and a general belief that he toxifies the conservative message. It’s another thing to do it because he doesn’t belong in the toney company of the blue bloods. The Bush Family feels like American royalty, and they appear to see Trump as a nouveau riche blowhard. That feels elitist rather than principled. Nobody was surprised that the person who reported H.W. Bush’s voting choice was a Kennedy. That’s how the Bushes roll.

And that feeling of Republican elitism helped drive Trump to new heights. Trump wasn’t merely a reaction to the “neocons” or the “Republican establishment.” He was a reaction to the Bush family in particular: their genteel sensibilities, their family heritage, their general chumminess with the Clintons. Republican primary voters reveled in the Trump-Jeb! piledrivers, because they felt that Trump was willing to hit people hard, unlike the Bush family.

If the reports are true, the story seems like Stockholm syndrome. During his 1992 run for the White House, Bill Clinton’s campaign used George H.W. Bush’s breaking of his “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge — which the Democrat-majority Congress demanded of Papa Bush in 1990, who was far more interested in foreign policy than budget negations — as a cudgel against him in a viciously partisan advertisement designed to make Bubba appear to be running to Bush’s right. Much the same would happen over a decade later during Dubya’s administration, when many of the same leftists who supported regime change in Iraq during the Clinton years in the mid to late 1990s would adopt a similar “you f***ed up, you trusted us” stance and toss their former support down the memory hole (not least of which, Hillary Clinton).

And now Bush #41 is returning the favor by supporting his wife and once again sticking the shiv into Republicans?

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