Jeb Bush is the latest Republican to indulge in the sort of revisionism which we have come to expect from the Democrat Party, but sadly is now being practiced by the GOP establishment as well. Bush stirred the media stew Monday by telling Bloomberg editors that Ronald Reagan and and George H. W. “Poppy” Bush would both be rejected by a party that Republican progressives of Jeb’s ilk claim is a collection of extremist right wingers with little tolerance for dissension.
“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,” Bush said, reports Buzzfeed.
S.E. Cupp is just one of a number of pundits who have taken issue with the younger Bush, pointing out that foremost among Reagan’s opponents prior to his nomination by the 1980 Republican National Convention was no less of an establishment Republican than Jeb’s own father, who mocked Reagan’s fiscal policies as “voodoo economics.“ As for Today’s GOP being a small tent with room inside for only radical right wingers, Cupp observes:
Yes, the same conservatives who nominated John (The Moderate) McCain in 2008 and Mitt (The Massachusetts Liberal Obamacare Author) Romney this year would apparently find Reagan too compromising to pass muster today, the story goes.
I’m not sure which Republican Party Jeb is talking about, or why he’s talking about it at all, for that matter. But for one thing, our collective memory of Reagan has faded to the point of amnesia. The guy who told Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” was hardly a mealy-mouthed moderate.
So here’s a brief lesson for those who think Reagan was just Dennis Kucinich with a tan.
He famously campaigned against state-sponsored welfare programs, pledging that he would “send the welfare bums back to work.” That’s the kind of toxic language that got Newt Gingrich in trouble this year, when he called President Obama “the food stamp President.”
Reagan so despised the caprice and power of organized labor that he told an entire fleet of air-traffic controllers to get the hell back to work. If Jeb Bush thinks a union-slaying hard-liner couldn’t get elected today, he should visit Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who managed to do it — twice.
Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer was also quick to correct the Jeb Bush GOP-e narrative, with a reminder that the senior Bush “was no Reagan.” George H.W. Bush was a moderate Republican, a political animal of a species quite distinct from that of Ronald Reagan:
“Reagan was a movement conservative, a leader of the movement. You would call him rigid. He was called worse than that in those eight years. Rigidity is a virtue. Today we use the word ideology as a pejorative. I think it needs to be resurrected. An ideology means a coherent set of ideas and policies, and Reagan had them, and he pursued them. And I think he would be very comfortable today with the Tea Party and the Republican party,” Krauthammer said.
“In fact, I think he would say, as Paul Ryan said after the 2010 election, where you have got a radical change in direction of the Republican party, Paul Ryan said we had lost our way. We had entertained this kind of moderate conservatism as his father, the Bush father, said kinder and gentler, as George W. Bush said compassionate conservatism. That was a variation they did. But I think the Republicans have spoken that was not the way to go and this is a return to Reaganism.”
By employing the tactics of the political left against conservatives, GOP establishment hacks such as Jeb Bush clearly demonstrate that they are no better than their counterparts in the Democrat Party. Tea Party heroine Sarah Palin labeled the use of such tactics “cannibalism” when they were brought to bear against Newt Gingrich in the in the political death race also known as the 2012 Republican presidential primaries:
We have witnessed something very disturbing this week. The Republican establishment which fought Ronald Reagan in the 1970s and which continues to fight the grassroots Tea Party movement today has adopted the tactics of the left in using the media and the politics of personal destruction to attack an opponent.
We will not save our country by becoming like the left. And I question whether the GOP establishment would ever employ the same harsh tactics they used on Newt against Obama. I didn’t see it in 2008. Many of these same characters sat on their thumbs in ‘08 and let Obama escape unvetted. Oddly, they’re now using every available microscope and endoscope – along with rewriting history – in attempts to character assassinate anyone challenging their chosen one in their own party’s primary. So, one must ask, who are they really running against?
Gov. Palin’s concern was with the establishment’s use of the politics of personal destruction, which seems a more despicable practice than mere revisionism. But both tactics are those of the left, and when they are embraced by the Republican Party’s “moderates” against the GOP’s own conservatives, there is equal cause for concern.
Ironically, Newt Gingrich became a target of his own party’s establishment when he stood up for Reagan principles against then-President George H.W. Bush by leading the fight to prevent Bush from breaking his own pledge to voters not to raise taxes. For this sacrilege, Gingrich has been vilified by the GOP-e ever since, and Sarah Palin has also suffered the slings and arrows of the party establishment for practicing her own brand of Reagan conservatism.
The GOP establishment does the Republican Party no favors when it sinks to the lowest levels of its Democrat Party rivals and tries to wield the weapons of the political left, whether they be ad hominem attacks, rewriting history, or any other such practice which would make Saul Alinsky proud. It’s past time for Jeb Bush and those of a like mind to give it up and begin to honor the better traditions of the party of Lincoln and Reagan.