Seems Like a Conservative To Me

All those who doubt Jeb Bush’s conservative credentials would do well to actually examine the man’s thoughts and actions:

One month before Jeb Bush was sworn in as governor of Florida, he was already musing about bold plans to reduce the size of the state government.

“One of our goals should be to have fewer government employees each year we are serving,” Mr. Bush wrote to two aides in an email in December 1998. “We need a baseline from which to start. Labor has huge potential to be reduced, possibly in half.”

The Saturday after he was inaugurated, Mr. Bush forwarded that message to another aide and asked, “Can you make this happen?”

[. . .]

. . . while he did not slash the number of state employees by half, he did privatize thousands of public jobs. The email forecasting that move is one of hundreds of thousands from two accounts — one a government address, the other personal — sent during his time in office and obtained by The New York Times through a public records request.

The messages illustrate, hour by hour, the business of governing what was then the country’s fourth most populous state. Often, Mr. Bush is simply an electronic traffic cop: replying, forwarding and copying a barrage of pleas for jobs and appointments, visits and routine complaints by Florida residents.

But they also showcase Mr. Bush’s aggressive, and personal, approach in carrying out a conservative agenda in a state that, like others in the South, had been dominated by Democrats for generations.

He was the first Republican governor in Florida since Reconstruction to enjoy a Republican-controlled Legislature, and Mr. Bush used his party’s newfound strength to cut taxes, carry out sweeping changes in education policy, eliminate Civil Service protections for state employees and outsource some functions of state government.

I dare say that many of the potential candidates for the Republican presidential nomination whose right-of-center credentials are taken for granted by the credulous have failed to achieve the kind of substantive results that Bush can boast. From the design and implementation of his “big, hairy, audacious goals,” to his personal messages to constituents–including notably the constituent who contacted him inquiring about a motorcycle helmet law–Bush has shown a consistently and demonstratively conservative bent. Anyone who thinks that the former governor of Florida is a moderate in conservative clothing needs to be educated on the meanings of the words “moderate” and “conservative.”

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