The Corner

Jeb Bush, Pre-Obama Conservative

If you look at Jeb Bush’s record as governor, it can’t be seriously argued that he’s not a conservative. I think the distinction to make here is that he is a pre-Obama conservative. The last six years have marked an entire epoch of Republican politics — defined by the rise of the Tea Party and the fight against Obama’s agenda — that Bush has largely been absent from. His last year in office was 2006, and the last time he was on the ballot was 2002 — long before anyone had heard of Barack Obama. Bush’s most attention-getting forays into the national debate in recent years have been defenses of positions on immigration and Common Core anathema to populist conservatives who have been ascendant in the Obama years, and statements scolding the current Republican party for what Bush considers its various deficiencies. One of the main questions that his presumed presidential campaign will have to answer is why he should lead a party that has undergone a generational change, that has been ideologically refreshed, and that has been tested in the fights against Obamacare and other Obama initiatives since the last time he ran for office.


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