Jeb Bush Silent on Mark Levin’s Challenge - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Jeb Bush Silent on Mark Levin’s Challenge

“Why does baloney reject the meat grinder?” So answered William F. Buckley, Jr. when he was asked why the most popular Democrat of 1967 — New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy — refused to come on Buckley’s television show Firing Line to discuss the issues of the day.

The Buckley remark comes to mind as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush — the GOP Establishment favorite in the presidential race — is silent as a church mouse in response to an on-air challenge from Mark Levin to appear on Mark’s radio show for a discussion of birthright citizenship. 

Bush has been out there defending “birthright citizenship.” As reported in Politico

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush split from many of his fellow GOP presidential contenders on Tuesday and staunchly defended birthright citizenship for children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrants — saying it is a constitutional right that should be protected.

During an interview with CBS’s Major Garrett, Bush waved off Donald Trump’s immigration plan — which includes repealing the 14th Amendment that provides birthright citizenship — as unrealistic

“Mr. Trump can say that he’s for this because people are frustrated that it’s abused. But we ought to fix the problem rather than take away rights that are constitutionally in doubt,” Bush said.

OK. Fair enough. That’s the Bush position. It also happens to be the position of our friends at the Wall Street Journal.

Mark Levin, a considerable student of the Constitution, quickly and publicly challenged Bush to come on his show to discuss the issue. Thus far, Bush has refused by simply ignoring the invitation altogether. Reminding, of course, of Bill Buckley’s remark about Bobby Kennedy: “Why does baloney reject the meat grinder?”

Mark appeared on Sean Hannity’s TV show the other night (hat tip to Breitbart) and said this of those who are, like Bush, making the 14th Amendment say something it doesn’t say: 

Because they’re result-oriented. Because they want to insist the Constitution says what it doesn’t say. Moreover, the Supreme Court has never ruled that the children of illegal aliens are American citizens. So the Supreme Court never ruled, even if they did, it would be wrong. The clause speaks for itself, the author of the clause made it abundantly, unequivocally clear, let’s add another thing, let’s read the clause together, shall we? 

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States.”

Let’s stop there. If it means what the proponents of birthright citizenship say, it would stop right there. “All persons born or naturalized in the United States” are citizens. There’s no need for anything else, but that’s what it says. Then it says, and, “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” Now, you have slip and fall lawyers, some phony constitutional lawyers, they have “Esquire” after their name, they come on TV, they go all over the place, “Jurisdiction means geography.” Jurisdiction has nothing to do with geography. Zero.

It had to do with political allegiance to the United States of America. How do we know it? Because they said it. And they also excluded everybody that the left, and some of the Republicans want to include.

Now here’s the good news, there’s another part of the Constitution. It’s Article I, Section 8, Clause 4. Here’s what that says, in plain English. 

“The Congress shall have power to… establish a uniform rule of naturalization.”

Now, you know what that means, that means Congress, not the courts, not the president, not ICE, it means the United States Congress has the power to regulate immigration in this regard. And guess what, Sean, in the 1920s, that’s exactly what it did. The 14th Amendment excludes Indians, that is Native Americans, as U.S. citizens, because they felt that they had allegiance to their own national tribes. Okay, great, and I believe it was in 1923, Congress reversed course, and said, “You know what? Under the 14th Amendment and under this Article I, we’ve decided to grant citizenship, national citizenship to all Native Americans.”

Of course Trump is right, and Cruz is right, and Sessions is right, they’re all right. And to hear so-called constitutional conservatives trip all over themselves to sound like liberals, to rewrite this provision, and accuse those of us who actually know something about it, know the history about it, know the senators who were involved in it, know what went into it, know what was meant by it, that we’re the activists, that we’re the extremists. 

Look, if you want of a policy of open borders, that anybody born here should become a United States citizen, you amend the Constitution. We don’t have to amend the Constitution, it says what we say it says, and by statutes, by statute, going forward, prospectively, Congress can, in fact, say, “We want to emphasize to this federal government, to this president, no, you cannot make children of illegal aliens American citizens automatically.”

Here in the pages of The American Spectator, attorney and columnist Mark Pulliam makes the same point. In considerable detail so too does John Eastman in National Review, the Henry Salvatori Professor of Law & Community Service and former dean at Chapman University School of Law writing a devastating critique of the Bush position without ever mentioning him. In fact, he doesn’t have to.

But there’s another point here aside from the substance of the Bush position on the 14th Amendment issue.

What does one learn in watching Jeb Bush’s statement on birthright citizenship and his apparent decision to duck a talk with Mark Levin? (As has, note well, South Carolina Lindsey Graham, who keeps rejecting offers to go on Mark’s show.)

One learns what the problem is that cuts right to the heart of the problem with the Bush candidacy. The former governor has stumbled yet again on another major issue. His inability to explain his Iraq policy, his goof on women’s health issues in talking about Planned Parenthood, the business about illegal immigration being “an act of love” show a persistent bumbling timidity in taking on the issues of the day. It is precisely the problem the base of the GOP sees with its congressional leaders, the latter promising to repeal Obamacare or halt the Obama executive amnesty and more and then, once elected, folding like a cheap suit.

It is exactly what accounts for this recent headline on a new Reuters poll:  

Trump widens lead over U.S. Republican presidential field: Reuters poll

The story begins as follows:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Republican Donald Trump is pulling away from the pack in the race for the party’s U.S. presidential nomination, widening his lead over his closest rivals in the past week, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Friday.

Republican voters show no signs they are growing weary of the brash real estate mogul, who has dominated political headlines and the 17-strong Republican presidential field with his tough talk about immigration and insults directed at his political rivals. The candidates are vying to be nominated to represent their party in the November 2016 general election.

Nearly 32 percent of Republicans surveyed online said they backed Trump, up from 24 percent a week earlier, the opinion poll found. Trump had nearly double the support of his closest competitor, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who got 16 percent. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was third at 8 percent. 

That story appeared on Friday. By Sunday the New York Times was headlining:

Why Donald Trump Won’t Fold: Polls and People Speak

Says the Times:

A review of public polling, extensive interviews with a host of his supporters in two states and a new private survey that tracks voting records all point to the conclusion that Mr. Trump has built a broad, demographically and ideologically diverse coalition.…

Tellingly, when asked to explain support for Mr. Trump in their own words, voters of varying backgrounds used much the same language, calling him “ballsy” and saying they admired that he “tells it like it is” and relished how he “isn’t politically correct.” 

And right there is Jeb Bush’s problem. Trump goes on Mark Levin’s show. He isn’t afraid. He doesn’t hide. He goes on the Mark Levin show knowing full well that he will get tough questions — and he answers them. It is, in a snapshot, exactly what causes the New York Times to report that his fans like him because he is “ballsy.” What could be ballsier for Jeb Bush than to go on the radio show of one of his prominent critics and engage?

But it’s not going to happen. Which, in a snapshot, says everything about Bush’s style of leadership and exactly why he is doing so poorly in the polls. And by extension why the base of the GOP is so furious with the GOP leadership in Washington — the GOP “Establishment.” The American people are desperate for “ballsy.” They want bold. They want decisiveness. It was, in part, why Ronald Reagan was so popular and won his two presidential landslides. It was also why his GOP Establishment critics of the day insisted Reagan was too “extreme” to ever be elected president, much less actually be president. And suffice to say — they were wrong. 

The Iowa caucuses are five months distant. But in this one snapshot — the Jeb Bush unwillingness to go into the lion’s den of one of his staunchest critics — it says everything you need to know about why he is doing so poorly in this campaign. 

More to the point, it says everything you need to know about why the GOP Establishment and their consultants keep losing presidential campaigns.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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