Political Animal


June 13, 2012 10:31 AM If the Name Is Bush, the Game Is “RINO”

By Ed Kilgore

Jeb Bush’s heretical utterances about Ronald Reagan may have created some temporary heartburn for conservatives who are invested to a remarkable degree in the idea that they are just trying to get a country nearly ruined by wild-eyed socialist Barack Obama back to the sane center-right created by Reagan.

But on another level, Jebbie simplified things for conservatives now that they’ve stop writing his name on their notebooks as a possible 2016 or 2020 hearththrob. Until the 2000 cycle, they thought of Poppy as just an inveterate squish, a product of that New England, Episcopolian milieu that was never hospitable to movement conservativism in its full savagery. W., though, the swaggering evangelical Texan, was another matter: As Robert Novak famously said in 1998, in one of the most influential op-eds of recent years, W. may have been the biological heir of his father, but was the ideological heir of Ronald Reagan. That perception helped make W. the semi-universal candidate of movement conservatives in 2000.

Lately, of course, W.’s one-time maximum fans have been pretending he was never One of Them, typically blaming Obama’s 2008 victory in equal parts on ACORN skullduggery, media cheerleeding, McCain’s own squishiness—and George W. Bush’s big-spending perfidy.

Jebbie, however, hasn’t been included in the family indictment until now. Indeed, National Review’s Rich Lowry campaigned avidly for a Bush 2012 run early in the cycle—a plea that didn’t go far partly because the object of his affection wasn’t interested, but also because Republicans feared the dynastic issue.

Now it’s resolved. All those damn Bush boys are tainted by moderation, and can be written off as a group. That may mean foreswearing that one-time future Hispanic-American superstar George P. Bush. But it’s probably worth it psychologically in order to execute the crucial revisionist history whereby none of the clan were True Believers to begin with, and the GOP’s ongoing lurch to the right is simply a return to the Reagan legacy the Bushes betrayed.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on June 13, 2012 10:41 AM:

    I have nothing to add - that was spot-on perfect!

  • stormskies on June 13, 2012 10:43 AM:

    This is just more evidence, as if we needed anymore, that these current Repiglicans live in an utterly fact free universe. Instead, they live fictional universe that they need to, at all costs, 'believe' in in order to remain psychologically secure.

    They simply have no capacity for self reflection, and no capacity to accept the responsibility in their own actions. Instead, they need perpetual scapegoats to blame because of their psychological need to always feel victimized by ......something.

  • Mimikatz on June 13, 2012 10:55 AM:

    And then they also don't have to defend his mistakes, let alone take responsibility for those of his policies that they championed, like tax cuts for the wealthy and endless wars.

  • T2 on June 13, 2012 11:04 AM:

    a Party that bases its politics in lies, and champions politicians that lie, will be problematic. They simply change history to suit their needs, and worship a president that couldn't even remember his name the last two years of his presidency. If you add to that Conservative Corporate ownership of both the Media and Supreme Court, well you'll find the country exactly where it is today..... a minority of crooks and liars controlling the majority of, well, the rest of us. We need to start voting in large numbers.

  • RepublicanPointOfView on June 13, 2012 11:20 AM:

    What a load of bull...

    Gratutious attacks on the noble Bush family and misleading explanations of the Tea Party phenomena.

    To start with, the Tea Parties really are just the same core groups who fully supported everything that George W. did! They just rebranded themselves so that they could claim they were not fanatical George W. supporters. If the republicans had not fared so poorly in 2008 and in 2010, they would still be proudly proclaiming George W. as the 2nd best president ever.

    I am sure that Grover Norquist would, if you could get an honest response from him (granted, that is asking a lot), would join me in recognizing George W. Bush as one of the absolute best presidents ever. No president has ever accomplished more in destroying our federal government than George W. and that is what we, the funding wing of the republican party, want!

    While Jeb was supposed to be the 2nd Bush president and his turn was stolen by Karl Rove, do not count out Jeb in 2016. Jeb still meets all of the core requirements for a popular republican candidate. He is an original signer of the PNAC Statement of Principles; he is really admired by the Christian Conservatives; and he is one of us from the funding wing of the party.

    Jeb in 2016...

  • SimpleMatters on June 13, 2012 11:33 AM:

    I still think it's Jeb in 2016. I mean, the GOP is going to nominate Romney for Chrissakes. Never underestimate the power of their hatred for Democrats.

    My prediction: The 2016 GOP primaries will be another heat swamp filled with superfreaks, just like 2012, and once again, just like 2012, the business aligned "moderate" aka Jeb will win and immediately get all the support he needs when going up against the hated Dem.

  • navarro on June 13, 2012 11:47 AM:

    don't forget also that in that same speech jeb went on to thrash obama for his excessively partisan behavior in 2009.

    excessively partisan behavior . . . i wish.

  • bluestatedon on June 13, 2012 11:51 AM:

    If Jeb Bush harbors any real desire to be President, then he has to be privately hoping that Romney will lose this fall. If Mittens wins, he certainly be the GOP nominee in 2016, which means that Jeb would have to wait until 2020, when he'll be 67 years old, and presumably out of the limelight for quite a while.

  • buddy66 on June 13, 2012 4:54 PM:

    Jeb's job will be to lead the Reconstituted Republican Party after the present cuckoos crash and burn. There will inevitably be a third party, nativist and fascist, rise from the ashes.