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120830_jeb_bush_mm_328In making preparations to run for President, the latest Bush (Jeb, in case you missed it) told the press that he looked forward to having some “adult conversations” about what needs to happen in Washington, DC to break gridlock and “solve” the various problems America faces. He cast aspersions, of course, on Tea Party activists and others he believes are too stupid or, what appears to be the same thing to Mr. Bush, committed to principles, to act like “adults.” Sadly, it is not surprising that this latest member of the Bush “dynasty” would think of himself as among the few adults in the room because the dumb kids actually believe that we are supposed to have what the drafters of our Constitution wrote into law: a political system designed to promote low-level conflict and prevent governmental overreach, to demand consensus and limit the powers of elites to legislate their own priorities over the objections of a people long devoted to running their own lives in their own communities, associations, and states. Having through hard work and talent been born into the right family, Jeb Bush believes he has the right and perhaps even the duty to continue a line of failed Republican presidencies devoted to managing the welfare and administrative state more efficiently than the Democrats.

One certainly can see where Mr. Bush would get his delusions of manifest destiny. After all, his father, who made fun of Ronald Reagan (you know, the fellow who cut taxes and won the Cold War), showed his superiority by raising taxes, losing the post-Cold War, and helping elect a hillbilly con man as his successor. His brother proved nothing so much as the long-term damage done to the reasoning and speaking faculties by cocaine use. Then again, he also invaded the wrong country, twice, in his search for enemies, spent like a drunken (or coked up) sailor, and helped elect our first openly socialist President.

None of this is to say that only Bushes are capable of running America. Jeb Bush’s prospects this year have been made brighter, we are told, because another “adult in the room” has dropped out of the race. Mitt Romney showed last time around that the American people can, in fact, spot a heartless automaton, and will in fact refuse to vote for the model of vulture capitalism even if they otherwise vote a straight Republican ticket and even if the other option is our first openly socialist President.

M. Bush does not have a lock on the nomination, or even on the much-vaunted “establishment” vote/ money. He still has to contend with Chris Christie, who proves that even an empty suit can have a very nasty disposition and perhaps with Marco Rubio, who has shown that even a son of Cuban immigrants can sell out his political principles to agribusiness.

The real issue here, of course, is the power of a relatively small number of powerful “donors” in the Republican primaries. Recent reports have emphasized that part of the strength of these silk-stocking Republicans stems from their consistent one-third support in overwhelmingly Democratic states. They cannot possibly win an election in their own areas, let alone nationwide. But they still can have an influence on Republican primaries. One would not want to overstate the “liberalness” of, for example, all Republicans in New York. The Evil Empire State actually has quite a few conservatives in its outer regions, completely ignored by the plutocracy in New York City. What makes the establishment important and dangerous is money and the influence it buys among the liberal press (which is happy to help automatons gain the Republican nomination, then turn on them in the general election) and among Republican political operatives.

There is an unfortunate tendency among some Republicans to take the natural and proper respect a free people should have for those who succeed in any honorable enterprise to the point of believing that the ability to make money makes one politically savvy, principled, and honest. One would think the party’s rotten overlords would have disabused all of us of that delusion long ago, for they cannot even win elections. Remember Bob Dole and John McCain? Both men proved that one can be a war hero and yet be both personally unpleasant and politically feckless. Oh, and basically liberal.

This last element, liberal opinion, is one from which the Republican establishment continues to run away—well, walk at any rate. The latest attempt is repetition of the claim that they and their minions (excuse me, “donees”) represent the “center right” in America. The term is perfect, actually, because it has long been used to describe European parties that seek to run European social welfare and administrative states slightly more efficiently than their socialist adversaries.

Republicans have an opportunity, in looking for a 2016 presidential candidate, to choose someone who actually is not a creature of the donor class. Of course, that class donates nothing; its members purchase. They maintain a solid grip on the Republican Party in Congress and have shown time and again that they hold in contempt people who seek smaller government, greater freedom, and a return to traditional American values. Thus, John Boehner takes the long knives to conservatives who dared oppose his right to serve as Speaker, but nothing to members who derailed the same pro-life legislation his party supposedly has supported for decades. Furthermore, Mitch McConnell spends more time and money going after actual conservatives than putting forward solutions for America’s problems—unless, that is, you think continued maintenance of an underclass of semi-legal aliens, continued subsidies for big business, and massive bailouts to save bankers’ art collections in the Hamptons count as solutions.

It is long past time for middle-class Americans from Main Street to stop allowing arrogant hypocrites from Wall Street and K Street to fool them with the same old bait-and-switch on social issues, then mock them all the way to the bank. Ours should not be a nation of dynasties, let alone a ruling class. It need not be either, if the people will simply refuse to pay attention to false promises of “electability” and recognize that even if the self-anointed adults “win,” they will not be “our” party in government, but their own.

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9 replies to this post
  1. Excellent article….an echo of my own thoughts……just wish I felt some hope……can’t help but feel our country is in the same mess that the king in Lord of the Rings found himself……..guess we need another Gandolf !!!

  2. I respect Dr. Frohnen immensely, but am disappointed that he has succumb to others on the thoughtful right who are blindly vilifying John Ellis Bush as some sort of “establishment” candidate (whatever establishment means anyway). For a man who has never worked or served in an office within the federal district it’s pretty hard to claim him as a K Street Lizard.

    Lets be honest, none of us have a choice what family we are born into. We have all worked and carved out paths separately from our siblings and certainly have minds, hearts, and ambitions of our own. Jeb is not George W, George H.W., or for that matter Neil, Marvin, or Doro his other siblings. He is simply his own man and should be judged accordingly.

    If we can agree on that, then lets start judging. In a recent article, S.V. Date arrests those who have begun to misremember the public record of Jeb Bush (Dr. Frohnen included). He reminds us:

    Admittedly, there are his heresies on Common Core and immigration, the two hottest-button issues of the day in that world—but that’s enough to make Jeb a moderate?

    For those of us who covered Jeb’s two terms in Tallahassee, this is beyond mind-boggling. On issue after issue, Jeb’s track record in Florida pushed conservatism’s envelope to the breaking point.

    For anti-tax conservatives, Jeb slashed the state’s collections by a cumulative $14 billion over his eight years. For the devoted subset of supply-siders: The bulk of these cuts came via the complete repeal of Florida’s decades-old wealth tax on financial instruments. It pretty much had been the only progressive tax the state had, since Florida’s constitution forbids an income tax.

    For anti-spending conservatives, Jeb line-item vetoed hundreds of millions of dollars in hometown projects from the state budget year after year.

    For small-government conservatives, Jeb eliminated thousands of jobs by outsourcing huge swaths of state duties, including the massive human resources function and the state purchasing office.

    For law-and-order conservatives, Jeb championed tough-on-crime bills like “10-20-life” for gun offenders and three-strikes legislation for repeat offenders. He jammed through the legislature a death-penalty overhaul drastically limiting appeals for condemned inmates (it was soon afterward struck down, however, by the Florida Supreme Court).

    For pro-gun conservatives, Jeb approved an enhanced concealed carry law and, infamously, the NRA-written “Stand Your Ground” law. (After Trayvon Martin, Jeb said he did not believe it should have been applied in that instance.)

    For religious conservatives, Jeb rammed through education bills that created the first statewide school voucher programs in the nation, and then spent years defending them against oversight attempts. He approved the “Choose Life” license plate and sent state money to groups that counseled women against having abortions. And, famously, he pushed through legislation allowing him as governor to intervene in the Terri Schiavo right-to-die case—and at the very end nearly triggered a showdown with a local judge by sending state police officers to seize her from a Tampa Bay area hospice.

    With all this on his résumé, Jeb Bush is now considered a moderate? A RINO? A member for the establishment? What more can conservatives want?


    Is there any other candidate, anyone, who has this extensive of a public record on fundamentally conservative issues who can raise the money required to beat Hillary? We can sit around and complain all we want about how money has ruined politics and how special interest groups control the agenda, but until we start treating politics like blood sport as the left does, we will lose time and time again.

    And just a small note on the Bush Family (Jeb included). In our culture, public discourse, and statecraft, the notion of manners, decency, prudence of action, respect, and magnanimity are all but gone. A number of the few threads of those public virtues that remain have been woven for over 100 years by the Bush Family Dynasty if you will. They have given an example to America of fairness, humility, sacrifice, friendship, decency, and respect for public service that is all but a relic of another era. Regardless of their political and policy shortcomings, and there are many, we should be grateful as a nation for what they have done for our political and historical narrative.

    So, Dr. Frohnen, can we get out of our curmudgeon and myopic way, and arrest our ill reasoned attitudes towards Jeb, acknowledge this overwhelmingly conservative record in FL, and fight to support the most authentically Catholic, prudent, politics as the art of the possible candidate, that can win, that we have?!

    • “A number of the few threads of those public virtues that remain have been woven for over 100 years by the Bush Family Dynasty if you will. They have given an example to America of fairness, humility, sacrifice, friendship, decency, and respect for public service that is all but a relic of another era. Regardless of their political and policy shortcomings, and there are many, we should be grateful as a nation for what they have done for our political and historical narrative.”

      GWB was one of the worst presidents in US history–his deplorable comportment during 9-11 and his nasty little Neocon war in the Mideast grounds for impeachment.

      The family’s “decency” as you call it has been totally compromised by their shady dealing with the Bin Laden family, and beyond. And Mrs. Laura Bush, some issues with justice as well.

      The Clintons are awful, the Bushes no better.

  3. I don’t know that finding a real conservative to run for POTUS is possible; the people long ago bought into the materialist’s perspective of servile comfort over ordered liberty. Ross Hoffman could write in 1939, “In the first place, there is the terror inspired in millions by economic insecurity and the loss of confidence in the beneficence of uncontrolled social processes. This is manifest in the mass rush for government aid and protection, in the half-crazed insistence that political authority shall give relief and defense against almost every conceivable peril.” The entitlement mentality permeates our culture and demagogues enjoy the power that comes with taking care of the people; and of course the people must have, well, everything now, the Constitution be damned.

    Where conservatives are concerned, Robert Nisbet pointed out that the Jacobin-like search for “Conservative of the Month, could bring anyone under scrutiny so that one seeking budget cuts over defense spending may even be held in suspicion. But he thought that certainly a conservative who could trace a trail back to the temperament of a John Adams or Edmund Burke would not be found amongst the candidates for the honor.

    The only light I can see is that one will bleed before the healing begins. We can only hope the patient does not bleed to death beforehand.

  4. I have mixed feelings on this article. On the one hand, I agree that the people he mentioned should not run for the Presidency. On the other hand, he employs a strong filter in how he describe what he admires.

    We should note that what spurred the writing of the Constitution was not some threat from a monarchy; it was a rebellion. And the rebellion that motivated people into writing the Constitution was not one that opposed the rule of British elites; it was Shays Rebellion because it opposed the some of the elites who wrote the Constitution itself. The Constitution was written to create a more centralized government and its arch rival were those advocated a direct democracy, not a monarchy.

    As for Reagan, we could mention the Iran-Contra affair, the invasion of Grenada, his endorsement of and support for Pinochet of Chile, and the horrible crimes he oversaw in Central America. We could mention those things, but we won’t. Rather, we should note the number of times Reagan raised taxes. It was quite a few times.

  5. The author is spot on and I appreciate CEGK conservative litany of Jeb’s enlightened positions. Sadly, the fact that he signed into law, as governor in Florida, tax dollars for illegals negates, for me, his candidacy.

  6. Rhetoric aside, is there any dynasty in American politics, other than the Adams, which has not proved disastrous to the Republic?

    Some 45 years in the past, I was found murmuring (in an admittedly semi-inebriated state) about the dangers of dynasty and democracy. At the time, I was concerned about the Kennedy brothers, in comparison with the sad effect of the Caesar clan on Roman politics.

    Never did I dream we would devolve to a contest between the Clinton hillbillies and the Bush patricians.

    I frankly do not care about Mister Jeb Bush’s “qualifications”, any more than I care about Ms. Hillary’s. To wax Shakespearian, ” a pox on both (your) houses.”

    • There is no “dynastic tradition” in the US such that it was a threat to Democracy in any way. The Roosevelts don’t Count (2 presidents does not a “dynasty” make) and the Kennedys were, well…the Kennedys–a clan.

      The Bush Family is too corrupt and, particularly in the case of GWB too idiotic, to be romanticized as some great historic family of the US.

  7. Invective aside, does this OP seriously argue for a new GOP of red-staters free of the interference and financial support of blue-staters? If so, would rules changes or a third party be the wiser path to that result?

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