Thursday, June 14, 2012

Not So Fast, Jeb Bush

Jeffrey Lord
The rigidity of moderation: Ex-Florida guv rewrites history of Reagan and Dad

The headline in the New York Times?

Jeb Bush Questions G.O.P.'s Shift to the Right

The story begins this way:

Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida said his father, George Bush, and Ronald Reagan would find themselves out of step with today's Republican Party because of its strict adherence to ideology and the intensity of modern partisan warfare.

It goes on to portray Governor Bush as standing by his "assertion that he would accept a hypothetical deal" on taxes -- meaning violate the no new taxes pledge that is famously asked of GOP candidates by Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform.

Now, we like the Bushes here. The Presidents Bush and Governor Bush. President Bush 41 (in whose administration I served as an aide to HUD Secretary Jack Kemp) just this week celebrated his 88th birthday. A Happy Birthday to a genuine American hero, a true gentlemen and one of the classy nice guys in this world, all rare qualities indeed.

But someone should speak up and challenge Jeb Bush's assessment of Ronald Reagan and the Bush 41 presidency because, respectfully -- it's baloney.

It does not reflect the reality of the Ronald Reagan in whose White House I worked. But importantly, what Jeb Bush is saying does accurately reflect the views, actions and results of the "moderate Republicans" of the day who dominated the Bush 41 White House.

Jeb Bush's rose-colored memories aside, the fact of the matter is that moderate Republicans in 1980 -- with George H.W. Bush in that mix -- went out of their way to accuse Ronald Reagan of what Jeb Bush now calls a "strict adherence to ideology" and engaging in "the intensity of modern partisan warfare."

Where better to check the record then in… yes indeed… the New York Times?

For example, a story from March 1, 1980 that is headlined:

Ford Declares Reagan Can't Win; Invites G.O.P. to Ask Him to Run

Now why exactly did the moderate former President Gerald Ford believe then-former Governor Reagan couldn't win a national election against then-President Jimmy Carter?

Sounding downright Jeb Bushian, the Times reported that Mr. Ford insisted "that Mr. Reagan would be a sure loser in November" because Reagan possessed "extreme and too-simple views." Said the former President:

"Every place I go and everything I hear, there is growing, growing sentiment that Governor Reagan cannot win the election. I hear more and more often that we don't want, can't afford to have a replay of 1964."

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