THE 2012 ELECTION RESULTS WILL NOT BE EXCELLENT NEWS FOR JEB BUSH
Jeb Bush has made a series of off-message comments recently -- accepting the notion that a minimal tax increase would be acceptable if offset by spending cuts, praising the current education secretary, criticizing the GOP's tone on immigration. Now there's this:
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said today that both Ronald Reagan and his father George H. W. Bush would have had a difficult time getting nominated by today's ultra-conservative Republican Party.
"Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my dad -- they would have a hard time if you define the Republican party -- and I don't -- as having an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement, doesn't allow for finding some common ground," Bush said....
Jonathan Chait responds to this with a post titled "Jeb Bush Ready for 2016." Chait's conclusion:
To understand what Bush is saying, you need to anticipate how the party might diagnose the causes of a loss in 2012, and then you can see how he is setting himself as the cure....
If you try to imagine the Republican consensus after a potential losing election, it will look like this. It will recognize that its harsh partisan rhetoric turned off voters, and will urgently want to woo Latinos, while holding on to as much as possible of the party's domestic policy agenda. And oh, by the way, the party will be casting about for somebody to lead it.
Chait's making a subtle point: Jeb isn't really any more moderate than the current crazies, except on immigration, but his tone is more moderate -- and that's going to be the winning formula in the GOP in 2016 if Romney loses this year.
That subtle point is utter nonsense.
Sorry -- the party isn't going to moderate by 2016 if Romney loses. It isn't going to moderate in policy and it isn't going to moderate in tone. I don't care how pugnacious Romney is now. I don't care how many hippies he punches. I don't care how wingnutty his running mate is. If he loses, the post mortem from the most influential right-wingers is going to be: we nominated a RINO, the same way we did in 2008, and we lost to the Kenyan socialist. The way to win is to nominate a true conservative.
Yeah, I know: the party elders may be desperate to dial down the craziness. But remember, they were similarly desperate after 2008. Remember the "pizza summit" in March 2009 featuring ... um, Jeb Bush? That effort to put a new, mellow face on the GOP was soon utterly swamped by the tea party movement. If advocates of moderation try it again, they'll be slapped down again.
If you think the GOP will go mellow in 2016, you must believe that Jim DeMint, Rush Limbaugh, Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, Dick Armey, Charles Koch, David Koch, Sheldon Adelson, and Joe Ricketts (that's a partial list) are all going to die in the same plane crash between now and then. You also have to believe that the mainstream press is finally going to define extremism and intransigent partisanship as overwhelmingly Republican phenomena, and stop saying "Both sides do it!" Not gonna happen.
So, really, Jeb, just stop it. Demonization will continue to be in fashion in your party for the foreseeable future.
(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)