Jeb Bush: A Mature Presidential Candidate

This is the kind of thing that I like hearing from a potential next president of the United States:

Jeb Bush previewed the ideas at the heart of his likely presidential campaign, delivering a sweeping address here Friday about the economy, foreign affairs and energy exploration, and challenging the country to question “every aspect of how government works.”

In his first major speech since stepping into the 2016 presidential sweepstakes in December, the Republican former Florida governor spoke confidently and in significant detail about the broad range of issues beginning to shape the campaign for the White House. Bush signaled he would offer the country the “adult conversations” he said are lacking in Washington and would focus on people who have been left out of the economic revival.

“Sixty percent of Americans believe that we’re still in a recession,” Bush said. “They’re not dumb. It’s because they are in a recession. They’re frustrated, and they see a small portion of the population on the economy’s up escalator. Portfolios are strong, but paychecks are weak. Millions of Americans want to move forward in their lives — they want to rise — but they’re losing hope.”

Bush was sharply critical of Washington — not only of President Obama but also of the Republican-controlled Congress — saying there were too many “academic and political hacks” with “hard-core ideology” who are running the country without making progress.

“They’re basically Maytag repairmen,” he said. “Nothing gets done.” Bush added, “It is time to challenge every aspect of how government works — how it taxes, how it regulates, how it spends — to open up economic opportunity for all.”

Nice to see that at least one presidential candidate has decided not to dumb down his rhetoric in addressing the American people. And the following from Bush is especially welcome:

. . . Bush used the opportunity to signal the kind of campaign he intends to run. His message contrasted starkly with the rhetoric expected from some other hopefuls who are gathering in Iowa this weekend for a political festival hosted by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), an anti-immigration reform firebrand.

Bush drew loud and sustained applause when he called for immigration reform that would provide a path to legalized status for undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

“We have a history of allowing people to come in legally to embrace our values and pursue their dreams in a way that creates prosperity for all of us,” Bush said. “No country can do this like America. Our national identity is not based on race or some kind of exclusionary belief. Historically, the unwritten contract has been, come legally to our country, embrace our values, learn English, work and you can be as American as anyone else.”

In an subtle swipe at other GOP leaders and potential rivals who rally the conservative base with hot tirades about Obama’s overreach, Bush said the Republican Party will win back the White House only if it offers an optimistic message. “Hope and a positive agenda wins out over anger and reaction every day of the week,” he said.

Music to my computer screen. Of course, there are plenty on the right who believe that the Steve Kings of the world ought to dictate the Republican party’s message on immigration. Those people do not appreciate just how devastating the Kingian message is to both Republican party electoral prospects, and to the ability of the United States to renew itself by welcoming talented, hardworking immigrants who will contribute to the continuation of American greatness and live the American dream in return.

There is plenty of evidence on this blog that Jeb Bush is a serious person who is ready to bring adult conversation and maturity back to American politics. In the event that you need more evidence supporting this proposition, consider the words of Mortimer Zuckerman:

It’s risky business dissenting from Barbara Pierce Bush. “We have had enough Bushes,” she pronounced in April 2013 when the name of Jeb Bush kept popping up like an irrepressible cork in the oceans of speculation about Republican presidential candidates for 2016.

Maybe she has changed her mind but there were certainly dissenters among the hundred leading citizens of New York who met her son on a recent private visit. Most of them had never met him. They expected a rehearsal for a stump speech. He didn’t give it. He just said, “Why don’t you all pose questions about the issues facing the country and I’ll just respond to them one after another.” That was a risk. He had no idea what hot potato might be lobbed at him from an audience with a wide range of expertise, say from high finance and fracking to the fratricidal tribes in Yemen. What was remarkable was how familiar he was on every issue raised over three hours. He responded in a well-organized manner, with lucidity and real charm and empathy. It was a tour de force. Everybody understood why he was such an effective governor of Florida and why he would be a formidable presidential candidate.

Read the whole thing. About the only statement from Zuckerman with which I disagree is his comment that “if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and Jeb Bush the Republican nominee, I’ll go to bed early on election night confident that I’ll wake to find the country in good hands.” If Hillary Clinton had half the seriousness and intellectual maturity and vitality that Jeb Bush possesses, I would be the first to laud her. But she doesn’t.

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