The Corner

If Anything Needs Fixing, Governor, It’s Our Governing Class’s Contempt

From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Can Jeb Fix It?

The first test of Jeb’s ability to “fix it” will be seeing whether he can fix his campaign.

Besides the fundamental misreading of the GOP primary electorate – a considerable strategic, big-picture obstacle to overcome – Bush makes tactical mistakes as well. If you’re going to go after Donald Trump for saying something nasty about your wife, you’ve got to look tough, chivalrous, no-nonsense. (Does anybody fear crossing Jeb Bush?)

Who told him that hitting Marco Rubio on missed votes would be the silver bullet to knock out this former protégé and rival? As noted on the home page, this is a pretty stupid argument. Do you think there’s a single voter outside of Florida who cares about Rubio missing these votes? And do you think there’s a single voter who will pick Bush over Rubio because Rubio’s missed Senate votes out on the campaign trail?

If anybody in the GOP field wants to go after Rubio, there’s a glaring, obvious opportunity: The Gang of Eight bill. Of course, Jeb doesn’t have that option, because he supported that legislation, supports a path to citizenship in general, and in fact hit Rubio for backing off of his support of the Gang of Eight bill.

I suppose Jeb Bush could try to run a version of his brother’s “you may not always agree with me, but you always know where I stand” direct, principled approach. But I just don’t see an outspoken pro-path-to-citizenship candidate winning the GOP primary. A lot of voters will ask, if we have a choice between a pro-amnesty Republican and a pro-amnesty Democrat, why vote? Second, is there anybody who can make the case for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants – in this 62.6 percent workforce-participation-rate economy – who doesn’t imply or outright call the other side xenophobic and racist? The only issue where you see even more smug condescension and refusal to seriously listen to the opposition is . . . Common Core, which is Bush’s other big crusade.

Jeb Bush indicated that the term “Common Core” is so politically poisonous that he won’t use it anymore, and prefers to discuss state-set high standards. He ought to consider George Will’s argument:

Bush says “standards are different than curriculum” and: “I would be concerned if we had a national curriculum influenced by the federal government. My God, I’d break out in a rash.” But standards will shape what is tested, and textbooks will be “aligned” with the tests. Furthermore, has he not noticed what the federal government is doing, using Title IX as a pretext?

It simply states that no person “shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Based on those 31 words, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has stripped colleges and universities of a crucial component of self-government. Using ludicrous statistics based on flimsy social science to manufacture hysteria about a “rape epidemic” on campuses, the federal government is mandating the overthrow of due process in adjudicating accusations of sexual assault. Title IX’s 31 words beget hundreds of pages of minute stipulations and mandates.

Imagine if Jeb Bush had said something like:

The basic idea of Common Core – high standards for every child in every classroom in every school – has been twisted beyond recognition by an arrogant, ideologically-driven, obnoxious education bureaucracy that dismisses the concerns of parents. When I hear the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, claim that the opposition to Common Core comes from, quote, “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were,” I want to slap him in his smug, sniveling little face. How dare he speak to American parents this way! Who the hell does Arne Duncan think he works for? Who the hell does he think pays the money that goes into his paycheck?

Unfortunately for Jeb Bush, he and Arne Duncan have a pretty good working relationship, full of mutual praise.

Jeb Bush wants to fix something? The first thing he can set out to fix is a governing class that feels contempt for the public they govern. Our government’s cultural disdain for the mere plebes who don’t work for it set up a murderer’s row of incompetence, scandal, cover-ups, and unaccountability – the $2 billion spent on Healthcare.gov; 307,000 veterans dying while waiting for care from the VA; the Office of Personnel Management letting hackers get 22 million personnel records and 5.6 million fingerprint records; an EPA “cleanup” turning a river puke-yellow by spilling 3 million gallons of toxic mine sludge; Benghazi.

No offense to the fine governor, but his upcoming tales of gubernatorial fixes feel very long ago and far away:

During an address in Tampa, aides say, Mr. Bush will discuss his rejection of what he calls the “competing pessimisms” of the Obama era and will cite his experience as governor overcoming obstacles to conservative overhauls. He is expected to point to examples from his new book, “Reply All,” which will be released on Monday and details his prolific email habits as governor.

The text includes email exchanges with staff members, residents and others, recounting crucial moments of his tenure (natural disasters, the Terri Schiavo case, the 2000 election) and less momentous ones (constituent concerns over unisex bathrooms and a bill authorizing the creation of a state barbecue commissioner).

The Jeb Bush era in Florida coincided with the tail end of the dot-com boom and a Florida housing boom. He had a strong wind at his back for much of his time in office. Now we’ll see just how he does when the wind is in his face.

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