Yesterday I concluded that Jeb Bush had decided to come out against a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants after concluding that he won't really need to be particularly appealing to the Obama voting coalition if he runs for president in 2016.
Now, however, I see that he just screwed up.
National Journal says Jeb just had an unfortunate timing problem -- unconvincingly:
When Bush and coauthor Clint Bolick were writing the book during the 2012 presidential campaign, the GOP was veering far to the right. Republican nominee Mitt Romney had staked out a hard-line position against illegal immigration, blasting his primary rivals as pro-amnesty and promoting "self-deportation" for undocumented workers. Bush sent the book to the printer before Christmas -- weeks before a handful of Senate Republicans embraced a sweeping overhaul that, like the proposals backed by Bush's brother, former President George W. Bush, would allow illegal immigrants to earn citizenship.Wait -- they sent it to the printer before Christmas and they didn't see that even some Republicans were being to look at immigration policies that included citizenship for the undocumented? How slow a reader is Jeb that he couldn't process the Hispanic exit-poll numbers from, y'know, early November? Sean Hannity announced that he'd "evolved" on immigration and now supported a path to citizenship on November 8. Lindsey Graham said he was working with Chuck Schumer on an immigration bill that included citizenship on November 11. How can Jeb say he didn't see this coming?
In other words, Bush's party unexpectedly moved a lot faster than the book-publishing world.
And Jeb, of course, had supported a path to citizenship during the campaign, at the time he was writing this book opposing a path to citizenship. (National Journal, June 12, 2012: "Jeb Bush Supports Path to Citizenship for Illegal Immigrants.")
Oh, and in late January of this year -- after the book had gone to the printer, but before it had been published -- Jeb and his coauthor, Clint Bolick, wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal in which they endorsed a path to citizenship:
A practicable system of work-based immigration for both high-skilled and low-skilled immigrants -- a system that will include a path to citizenship -- will help us meet workforce needs, prevent exportation of jobs to foreign countries and protect against the exploitation of workers.So Jeb said he was pro-citizenship while writing an anti-citizenship book. He teased that anti-citizenship book with a pro-citizenship op-ed. Following along so far?
Oh, and now:
Jeb Bush Disagrees With His Own Book Hours After It's PublishedYou can argue (as did several of my commenters yesterday) that most people aren't paying attention, so it's fine for Jeb to keep his position murky. And it's true that most people aren't paying attention, and won't remember in 2016 what he's said up to now.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) told MSNBC's Morning Joe on Tuesday that he would support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants "if you can craft that in law where you can have a path to citizenship where there isn't an incentive for people to come illegally" -- a position that puts him at odds with his new book, out today from Simon & Schuster....
But do you know who will remember?
* Rabidly anti-immigrant Republican primary voters.
* The Hispanic voters Jeb would need to make inroads with if he got to a general election.
These aren't tiny voting blocs. The former will see him as a Romneyesque flip-flopper. The latter will see him as an unreliable ally (especially as compared to his Democratic opponent, who'll likely have a pretty solid pro-citizenship record). And if you're going to flip-flop, at least try to avoid going flip-flop-flip.
But that's Jeb, I guess. On this, he's not a decider.
Though I'll add that I stand by my read on the GOP's need for a big makeover between now and 2016 -- I wish I thought Republicans needed to do more, but I'm afraid they might get away with slapping on a few coats of paint, if they find the right candidate and the press plays along. But I don't think the right candidate will be Jeb, judging from this.