Conservatives are scouring the political landscape for a potential presidential candidate for 2012. The landscape, however, looks bleak:
I can’t stand Mitt Romney. He was a horrible governor and his health care “initiative” here in Massachusetts would be a national, instead of just a commonwealth, disaster; he cut the budgets of first responders, leaving many cities and towns across the commonwealth with lower levels of protection; he also cut funding to public schools, another move that gave me an aneurysm. This man is no conservative except on select social issues–pro-life (now, anyway, and feverishly so–like a reformed smoker who now wants all smokers shot at high noon, he’s frothing at the mouth to repeal Roe v. Wade), anti-gay marriage . . . um, that’s it. Pawlenty and Steele are flip-floppy centrist RINOs who really don’t have a (non-moving) platform or um . . . stones. The last thing we need is another president who says whatever this or that group wants to hear, trying to please all of the people all of the time and ending up pissing everyone off.
While I like Mike Huckabee as a television show host, I don’t think he’s the right man for the job . . . well, let me clarify, I think he’s too right for the job . . . . If he were the pastor of my church, I’d be in the front row every week; however, the very qualities that make him an excellent pastor, to my mind, make him a poor presidential candidate. Jindal doesn’t have enough experience under his belt yet . . . maybe for 2016? While I rather like Boehner, I do prefer presidential candidates to have some governing experience, and I’m not sure he can stand toe-to-toe with BO in a debate. I’d like to see him run for governor of Ohio, hang out there for a couple terms and then take a shot at the White House. (These inexperience issues are the same reasons that I initially rejected BO as a serious candidate for president, and you see how that worked out.)
Which brings us to the only viable, to my mind, 2012 conservative presidential candidates at this time: Palin and Gingrich (both of whom can not only stand toe-to-toe with BO but can serve him up for lunch). Palin’s got her work cut out for her, as we all know, and as things stand now, I don’t see her being a serious contender (things can and do change rapidly in politics, so BO may actually end up unintentionally giving her far more support from moderates and independents who are alarmed by this radical administration’s agenda. We already know from his reaction to her nomination of her as vice-president that he sees her as a very real threat.). Gingrich . . . hmmmm . . . the jury’s still out on that one for me. He’s decisive (which we sorely need), but he’s also divisive. But any conservative who is going to appeal to us will be, almost by definition. We’ll see how that one unfolds.
Another (Another) President Bush?
Back in 1997 (it may have been 1998), I went to my one and only campaign rally. It was for Jeb Bush for governor of Florida, and I was mightily impressed. He was eloquent, articulate, assured, dignified . . . all of the things that I didn’t think his brother, who was eying the White House at the time, was. I really liked him, his platform, his policy position, and his political savvy, so when his brother won the 2000 presidential election, I was bitterly disappointed because I, even as a liberal at that time, saw in him “presidential material.” I thought that his brother’s election was the end of the road for Jeb. But now I wonder.
He’s a statesman, a grown-up, and a man of honor. In other words, he’s the exact opposite of BO.
No one watching the BO administration can deny that when he’s not doing exactly what President Bush did in terms of Gitmo and the war, he’s screwing things up beyond measure. The liberal far left are beside themselves because they believed (as only the truly naive and downright silly can) that he’d actually do the things he promised to do (and some things he never promised but they just assumed because of their “read” on “change”–Code Pink’s freak out that he’s actually going to stay in Afghanistan, for example. He said that all along, even campaigned on it to show he was “strong,” but they didn’t hear it, so now they are gob-smacked that he’s not going to surrender any time soon.). BO is demonstrating every day that being president isn’t as easy as he thought, and he’s showing everyone that many of his crazy statements about how much Bush erred were incredibly wrong. He owes President Bush an apology.
Anyway, BO’s leadership is doing a great deal for President Bush and his legacy (and more will be done when the historians study his presidency; he’s another Truman in the sense that he’s totally under-appreciated in his time but will eventually be counted among the greatest of U. S. presidents). Many people who were border-line fed up with Bush are actually missing him these days, and that’s a check in the “Go Jeb 2012” column in my book. Irony is such fun, don’t you think?
Jeb Bush is many things that his brother is not, and all of them are pluses for his presidential bid (that I’m inventing as I type). While he certainly shares his brother’s conservative values, Jeb Bush is far more refined, far more intellectual, and far more “nuanced.” He’s certainly clear on his stance that the Republican Party cannot frame itself as “Democrat Light” as so many RINOs want to do these days.
On the downside, he’s opposed to domestic drilling (a thing that I very much support), flip-flopped on domestic drilling (not smooth), and supports amnesty for illegals (a thing I very much oppose). Apart from that, though, he’s got some amazing pluses:
Broad demographic appeal — Jeb Bush is very popular with minorities, Jewish people, and white women, groups that traditionally vote democrat.
The Republican Party can certainly benefit from someone who manages to communicate the fact that conservative values are much more in line with the interests of minorities and women than liberal ones. We know this on some level and saw it at work in California with the rejection of Prop 8–California’s large Hispanic population rejected it on largely religious issues (many Hispanics are Catholic, as we know), but for some reason our candidates can’t express this very well, and allow the libs to paint us as redneck racists. He also adheres to the Reagan principles of racial equality that focus on eliminating racist practices, not perpetuating them as the left does.
Speaking softly and carrying a big stick — also in line with Reagan, Jeb Bush supports a strong military with the goal of not having to use it. This is not only wise, but an approach that has proven itself throughout our history.
Leave the Reagan nostalgia behind — I keep mentioning Reagan in conjunction with Jeb Bush, which many might find weird given his let’s leave the Reagan nostalgia behind comment. What he meant, and in its full context he actually said, is that the Republican party needs to focus on the present and future, not on what was. That’s perfectly in line with Reagan himself. Jeb is savvy and he’s in touch with new media, and yes, he admired BO’s campaign and ability to draw people in. That is actually what makes him a strong potential candidate.
Education reform — Jeb Bush’s approach to education reform has both its pluses and its minuses, but it is likely to appeal to moderates and independents who lean left on education. He’s certainly not going to impose 12-hour school days and six-day school weeks (though he does favor a revision of the K-12 calendar).
As an educator, I’m seriously concerned by the “coaching not teaching” aspect of his policy proposals, but there’s no denying that the reform has done well in Florida. There are also flaws in any education system that foregrounds standarized testing, the major one being that education becomes “test-based” rather than knowledge (or more accurately, education-) based.
He’s a patriot who loves and will fight for his country — ‘Nuff said.