The Corner

Comparing the Bushes

One aspect of Jeb Bush’s campaign that has gotten lost in coverage of the horse race, where he’s far behind, is that he has now spelled out a lot of policy positions that put him to the right of his brother. I write about it at Bloomberg View.

Jeb Bush has lately been defending his brother George — the former president — against Donald Trump’s criticism, and George is raising funds for Jeb’s presidential campaign. What all this fraternal support obscures is the extent of the policy differences between the two. Despite his reputation for moderation, on issue after issue Jeb has taken positions that are significantly to the right of his brother’s — and of every other president in recent memory.

My point isn’t that conservatives ought to be supporting Jeb. There are other candidates with equally or more conservative views; he has views on immigration and education that, while still to the right of his brother, diverge from those of a lot of conservatives; and so on. The column is more an attempt to provide perspective on how the Republican party has changed: These days, you can line up to the right of George W. Bush on a wide range of policy issues and be labeled a moderate. But if Jeb Bush ends up winning the nomination, we can expect that the Democrats, with some justification, will go after him as “even more conservative than his brother.” (Or, more likely, “even more extreme.”)

(disclosure)

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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