Column: Bush 45?

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On the day that the State of Florida celebrated its first same-sex marriages, former Governor John Ellis “Jeb” Bush realized that marriage equality was now the law of the land.

“We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law,” Bush admitted in a statement he sent to the New York Times. “I hope that we can show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue - including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty.”

Bush’s statement was interpreted by many to mean that the former Governor is a “moderate” on social issues, at least in comparison to other Republican presidential hopefuls.

In fact, Bush’s views have not changed at all. The day before he released his “moderate” statement to the Times, Bush told the Miami Herald that marriage equality “ought be a local decision. I mean, a state decision. The state decided,” he added, referring to the 2008 election that placed a ban on same-sex marriage in the Florida State Constitution.

“The people of the state decided. But it’s been overturned by the courts, I guess.”

Delighted Log Cabin Republicans will point out that Bush has “evolved” on the issue of marriage equality, the way that Democratic politicians Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton “evolved.” But if you read Bush’s Times statement carefully, you will see that nothing has changed. (We don’t want “greater legal protections.” We want equal rights.) As in other issues, Bush tries to appear “moderate” to the voting majority while at the same time assuring the tea baggers and religious extremists who control the GOP primaries that he is really on their side.

It is an interesting fact that every President of the United States (POTUS) since 1993 (all three of them) has daughters but no sons. This is probably a good idea. Presidential families with sons - like the Adamses, the Harrisons, or the Roosevelts - are likely to form political dynasties, while presidential families with daughters do not. (The Clintons might break that mold, with former First Lady Hillary Clinton and, later, her daughter Chelsea.) George H. W. Bush (Bush 41) started a political dynasty that led to George W. Bush (Bush 43). Do we want a Bush 45 (Jeb)? The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation had elected emperors (chosen by electors) that eventually became hereditary in the Hapsburg family. Do we want the American empire to become virtually hereditary in the Bush family? I do not.

The idea that the Republican Party can only elect a POTUS if there is a Bush on the ticket, while superstitious, seems to be confirmed by the facts: Bush 41 was Ronald Reagan’s Vice President before he himself became President. Then Bush lost his bid for re-election, leading to eight years of Bill Clinton before Bush 43 won (some say stole) the election of 2000. Except for Bush 41’s failed re-election bid, the only times the GOP lost presidential elections since 1980 was when there was no Bush on the ticket: in 1996, 2008 and 2012. (These were also the only times since 1976 that a Democrat carried Florida, but I digress.) Having won the Senate, the House of Representatives and most state governments, all that the Republicans need for total control is the Presidency, and Jeb Bush promises to deliver it to them.

Like Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush has been hemming and hawing about his presidential intentions. Lately, however, Bush has made it increasingly clear that he will run for President in 2016. He has the support of major Republican donors, which puts him ahead of the pack as far as money is concerned, and he also has the backing of the powerful Bush political machine. He delighted right-wing Cuban-Americans, a powerful bloc in the swing state of Florida, with his strong support of the Cuban embargo and his opposition to President Obama’s new relations with Cuba’s revolutionary government. Bush is married to a Mexican-American woman and speaks fluent Spanish, which is a plus to a GOP that desperately needs to win over Latinos. (The fact that GOP Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are both Cuban-Americans does not seem to help their own presidential aspirations) On January 6, Bush filed the paperwork to start a political action committee, Right to Rise, which will raise money for conservative candidates, Jeb Bush being one.

Make no mistake, Jeb Bush is a conservative. In many ways, the former Florida Governor is more conservative than his father and his older brother, and even more conservative than failed GOP presidential candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney. Bush is only a “moderate” when you compare him to the right-wing extremists, the tea baggers and the religious zealots who have hijacked the Republican Party. LGBT Americans and our friends, of any party, should be careful about supporting such a man for the highest office in the land.


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