Yesterday the big news of the day was a series of comments former Florida Governor and presidential heir apparent Jeb Bush made at a Bloomberg View breakfast about the state of American politics. Now he’s saying those comments were taken out of context. So what did he really say?
Just to review, Bush said Ronald Reagan would have a hard time passing muster in today’s Tea Party-ized GOP. He also said that his father’s 1990 budget deal with congressional Democrats was an example of the kind of forward looking statesmanship that the country needs more of today.
On this later point, the 1990 budget deal amounts to something close to the original sin of modern conservative anti-tax politics. The 1990 deal involved tax hikes which — along with President Clinton’s tax hike in 1993 — set the stage for the country going into surpluses by the late 1990s. It’s also when Bush broke his “read my lips” pledge of no new taxes. So again that’s sacrilege in the context of modern Republican politics. And anti-tax czar Grover Norquist lashed out at Bush over the Reagan comments yesterday. I’m not even sure he got around to focus on the Bush comments, which I have to imagine in his mind would be even worse.
He also said he “felt a little out of step with [his] party on” the Dream Act. But that’s much less surprising.
So out of context? Not exactly. I was there. And that part of the news was reported basically exactly right.
What didn’t come through though is that Bush wasn’t exactly going The Full Lugar (TFL) in chastising GOP extremism or blaming Republicans for the current national policy impasse. If anything, far from it. In fact, he suggested that President Obama was to blame for much or most of today’s hyper-partisanship. He said that during the first year of his presidency, 2009, Obama had “planted the seeds of the armed camps” politics which dominates Washington today by trying to govern on a strictly partisan basis.
In fact, the overall tone of his remarks struck me as pretty partisan.
So if anyone’s worried that Jeb Bush is now the poster boy for the Ornstein/Mann argument that the GOP is the primary culprit behind today’s political disfunction, not to worry.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.