© Josh Sager – June 2015
The 2016 GOP primary season promises to be an absolutely amazing show. Unlike the Democrats—whose establishment has essentially aligned behind Hillary Clinton—the Republicans are facing a choice between at least 17 different candidates, who will spend the next few months jockeying for position, trying to score a billionaire sugar-daddy, and viciously sniping at each other.
Watching conservative extremists trying to destroy each other and apologize for every rational position they have ever taken, in a competition for the right to be bludgeoned by Hillary Clinton in the general election, is just highly amusing.
In fact, the GOP primary is so large, and involves so many candidates who are manifestly ridiculous, that Fox News is currently trying to decide how to disqualify candidates from the debates so that the competition doesn’t become overwhelmingly absurd (even for their audience to stomach). Unfortunately for them, using campaign funding or polling data to make this decision is extremely inconvenient, as both would eliminate the only black candidate (Carson), the only female candidate (Fiorina), and both of the Hispanic candidates (Cruz and Rubio). As this would harm them in demographics that they are already vulnerable in, the GOP/Fox organizers are stuck trying to find some alternative rubric.
Ironically, I am stuck making the very same decision when determining which candidates to describe in the following article. Obviously, it would be tedious and pointless to go over the career highlights of each conservative ideologue to have crawled out from underneath a rock to get some attention before losing the primary. That said, I have written a short summary of each of the candidates who might be credible or have a significant chance of surviving the onslaught of the primary:
Supposedly the “smart Bush,” Jeb’s most powerful political position was the governorship of Florida. He is a strong front-runner possibility, if only because he has raised massive quantities of money from big-money interests and will be able to swamp most of his competition in negative ads. Additionally, his governorship of the massively important swing state of Florida and history of being less hateful towards Latinos (relative to the rest of the pack) could give him an edge.
Despite his relatively strong position within the party, Jeb has MASSIVE skeletons in his closet.
First and foremost, his last name is Bush—a name that is politically toxic to large portions of the country (destroying the economy, lying us into wars and generally embarrassing our nation).
As governor, Jeb handed the 2000 Presidential election to his brother by rigging the Florida vote. First, he conducted voter purges, primarily of African Americans, in order to disenfranchise thousands of voters who were not likely to vote for George. Second, his Secretary of State, Kathleen Harris, failed to process thousands of new voter registrations before the election, and then, after the election, called a halt to the recount and declared that George Bush had won (a decision that would later lead to Bush v. Gore).
Despite trying to separate himself from his brother’s foreign policy catastrophes, the fact is the Jeb is intrinsically tied to his brother’s conduct. As a member of the neoconservative Project for a New American Century, Jeb Bush had been pushing for an invasion of Iraq since 1998. The idea to use 9/11 as a justification for invading Iraq was straight out of PNAC’s playbook, as demonstrated by this quote from the 2000 PNAC Rebuilding America’s Defenses report:
“The process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event––like a new Pearl Harbor”
PNAC alumni in the Bush administration implemented their 2000 plans to invade Iraq, using 9/11 as a “catastrophic and catalyzing event” to deflect criticism and stir up patriotic support.
While Bush’s time at PNAC was over a decade ago, he has proven himself to be just as neoconservative and extreme today. In addition to naming his brother as one of his “top foreign policy advisors” (which is kind of like having Rush Limbaugh as your marriage counselor), Jeb has rehired large portions of his brother’s foreign policy team as his own foreign policy advisors—here is a terrifying Venn diagram from the Washington Post illustrating this overlap:
In short, Jeb Bush’s presidency represents a third term for his brother in much the same way that Hillary Clinton’s presidency represents a third term for her husband. Fortunately for Clinton, this means that she can expect economic growth and prosperity, as opposed to Bush’s needless wars, economic crises, war crimes accusations, and a wholesale plundering of the middle class by the wealthy.