I wanted to like JEB! Bush. Honest. Granted, I considered him a 'reasonable' insurance policy against the possible election of some much worse GOP candidate, of which there are several. But word was spread (from SOMEwhere) that he was the smarter, saner Bush brother ? the one who'd been groomed by the family for the Presidency. Having observed him so far, I'm not convinced, or impressed.
Let's look at the following recent, remarkable quotes, in no particular order:
On Social Security: "We need to look over the horizon and begin to phase in, over an extended period of time, going from 65 to 68 or 70." (Face the Nation)
If he knew then what he knows now, would he invade Iraq? "Yes, I would. And so would Hillary Clinton." (Fox News)
On how he will achieve his promised 4% economic growth rate: "people are going to have to work longer hours." (NH The Union Leader interview)
On women's health: "I'm not sure we need (to spend) $half-a-billion for women's health issues" (Sn Baptist Convention event, yesterday)
It's not just that I disagree with every one of those statements as policy, it's that they betray also a startling ignorance of the actual state of things, for a man who would be Prez.
For instance, on Social Security, he's unaware that the current retirement age is already 66, not 65, and that people now in their mid-fifties will be subject to a retirement age of 67. Raising it to 70 would significantly reduce the benefits paid to workers now in their 40s ? whose wages are stagnant, and whose pensions have been gutted. And The Rich get richer.
Or let's examine the slow-pitch softball lobbed his way by Megyn Kelly on Fox, intended to elicit the obvious "no, but the intel was bad" response. So eager was he to attack Mrs. Clinton that he ignored the friendly question's premise, signed-on to repeat that disastrous policy debacle, and had to huffily backtrack about unfair hypotheticals. Huh? Hypos are the fairest of game in politics ? it's how we get insights into the candidates' likely future actions.*
JEB!'s was a distinctly unPresidential response ? say what you will (and you will) about the incumbent -- his words are generally careful, articulate, accurate and measured.
The "work longer hours" advice to John-and-Joanna Public suggests a patrician's blissful ignorance of conditions in the hustings. Is he really unaware that Americans, in their desperate, vain attempts to maintain a tenuous grip on middle-class circumstances, already work the world's longest hours ? far outstripping the industrious Japanese, Germans and every other labor force? 'Thank you, sir, may we have another hour?'
Further, is he not aware that his own record of economic "growth" in Florida was just a bubble of over-building, fueled by the chicanery of his friends on Wall Street? Alternatively, is that the kind of "growth" party we can expect from a Bush3 Administration ? one with a decade-long, Florida-sized hangover attached?
Finally, much the same can be said ? in spades -- of his current gaffe regarding women's healthcare spending. It was stated in the context of the GOP's slimily orchestrated attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, in the wake of 'revelations' about the organization's practices.** First, the statement is sloppy, as it tends to demean the interests of a voter demographic that is both huge and generally, already suspicious of GOP motivations. Gender canyon, anyone?
Second, it has the sound of a canned talking point that again implies a lack of depth on the topic. If I know that the federal government spends upwards of a $Trillion annually on health care ? let's assume about half on women's health-related expenses, why doesn't JEB! know it? That makes his $500M about ? scribble-scribble ? cancel/cancel/cancel ? all of 1% of what's already being spent for women's healthcare ? and he wants to eliminate that?
But let's give him the benefit of growing doubts and assume that he knows that the $500M=1% is paid to Planned Parenthood for services rendered. Does he not know that not-a-penny of that amount goes to fund abortions? -- or that all of 3% of PP's services relate to abortions, and it's ALL privately funded? -- or that the full $500M goes to contraception, anti-cancer (e.g. mammograms) and other services (STD testing/treatment) crucial to the health of low-income women and their families? Is that really what he wants to cut? Has he consulted with his wife on this subject?
These have not been isolated incidents involving trivial matters. They form a consistent pattern that models the out-of-touch, slow-afoot qualities of his sibling. So, thank you sir ? may we have another candidate?
* Yes, I AM aware that Mrs. Clinton also engaged in such a ploy recently regarding the Keystone Pipeline. That was equally egregious, although not quite so much in-character. She should not wonder about her 'untrustworthy' ratings as long as they are of her own making.
** do I think the organization made a very short-sighted blunder even donating fetal tissue for medical research? Yes. Are they merchants of baby parts? No. Is this the stuff of a whole 'nother blog? Yes.