Now I'm back and I see that Jeb Bush, that coward, is trying to show he has a little Donald Trump in him -- but not too much. He's defending his use of the term "anchor baby":
A feistier, combative Jeb Bush said Thursday that he doesn't believe the term "anchor babies" is offensive and blamed Democrats for perpetuating the idea that it's a loaded term.I'm looking at this and thinking about a post in which Ross Douthat argues that the presence of Trump in the presidential race offers hope for not-fully-wingnutty "reform" conservatives:
In one of his most aggressive exchanges with reporters to date, Bush dismissed suggestions that the two-word term deemed offensive by many Hispanics and denounced by Democrats is improper.
"Do you have a better term? You give me a better term and I'll use it," he snapped at a reporter who asked him.
The former Florida governor first used the words Wednesday in a radio interview as he responded to questions about Donald Trump's use of the term....
But there’s a real opportunity here for reformers as well. Because so long as a protean, ideologically-flexible figure like Trump is setting the populist agenda in the party, you’re less likely to have stringent ideological tests applied to other candidates and their ideas; so long as the voter anxieties he’s tapping into are front and center in the debate, you’re less likely to see other candidates ignoring those anxieties while chasing support from donors or ideological enforcers instead.In other words, according to Douthat, because Trump isn't taking marching orders from the Kochs and the rest of the GOP's billionaire donors, he's willing to say things they might not agree with. He's to the right of them on immigration and is willing to say so -- but hey, isn't he also somewhat to the left of them on other issues? And if his apostasy has made it acceptable for other candidates in the race to say nasty things about immigrants, couldn't his deviations from wingnut correctness also make it acceptable for them to be more moderate on some issues?
Notice, for instance, that Trump said the following in his recent Time interview -- and notice that no other candidate is following his lead:
Are you willing to sign the “No New Taxes” pledge of Grover Norquist?Who's with Trump on that? Who's willing to flip off Grover Norquist? Some Republicans occasionally make vague references to "crony capitalism," and many claim that they want to close loopholes, but who in the GOP field is willing to say that hedge fund guys are screwing the rest of us? Or, to be more specific, who's been emboldened by Trump to talk this way? (Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum were already vaguely talking like this; Santorum's getting zero traction, and Huckabee gets much more positive feedback when he goes on culture-war tirades, which, of course, was how Santorum successfully connected with GOP voters four years ago.)
Well I’m thinking about it but I have a problem because I may want to switch taxes around. I want to save the middle class. And I have hedge fund guys that are making a lot of money that aren’t paying anything, okay. And I don’t know how his pledge relates to that.
But I know a lot of bad people in this country that are making a hell of a lot of money and not paying taxes.
Trump has lots of candidates moving to the right on immigration and birthright citizenship and so on, but he doesn't have anyone moving to the left on the scumminess of hedge-fund billionaires. Douthat is wrong to say that Trump is generally loosening up the party's "stringent ideological tests" -- he's only making it acceptable to deviate from party orthodoxy in a rightward direction. Nobody's going to follow him even a few inches to the left on other issues.
The obvious reason? Republican voters want rage. You can break the mold by giving them even more rage, but less won't work. Unless you're Trump, of course -- but it's working for him because he's giving voters maximum immigration rage.
(Douthat link via Alicublog.)