During the rare moments when Stephen Colbert wasn’t talking over him, Jeb! Bush said a couple of things the other night that go a long way to explaining why, with enough campaign cash to pay off the national debt and buy every adult in the lower-48 a Prius, Jeb!’s support as measured in the polls is stuck in the mid-single-digits.
Warning: You should be sitting down for this.
“I don’t think Barack Obama has bad motives,” Jeb! said. “I just think he’s wrong on a lot of issues.”
This is taking the concept of the loyal opposition a bit far.
Let’s see now Jeb!, no bad motivation on the part of the man who has lived his entire personal, religious, and academic life before taking the keys to 1600 marinated in Marxism and other left-wing phantasms, who saddled the country with government medicine, who has ramped up our national debt by more than all the presidents before him, who has consistently sucked up to our enemies and stiff-armed our friends in the world, who treats the Constitution as an irritation to be gotten around, who refuses to enforce federal laws that don’t comport with his leftist world-view, who is trying to hobble our economy in the name of a transparent fraud called climate change, who wants to extend government pre-school into the womb in order to help his education union buddies, who trades a clutch of Islamist warriors for one of the worst soldiers to ever wear olive drab, who does everything he can to advance Iran’s nuclear weapons program, who has miniaturized and feminized our military as the threats to our security that he has helped create grow, who has stoked the fires of racial division in the country, who has politicized the IRS and the Justice Department, and who is trying to impose a federal teeth-flossing schedule on the nation with a federal agency to enforce it. (OK, I made this last one up. But Obama hasn’t done this only because he hasn’t thought of it yet. Please don’t mention it to him.)
Geez, Jeb! No bad motivation in all of this? Perhaps you’ve spent the last six and a half years on Mars. (Does Mars need a president? You might break into double digits there.) The best that good sense, a charitable nature, and the benefit of the doubt could stretch on the question of Obama’s motivation would be agnosticism. And that would indeed be a stretch.
Jeb!, who early on said he wouldn’t run for president unless he could do so “joyfully” (leading one to believe that Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Phil would play major roles in his campaign), compounded the nonsense above with, “If you start with the premise that people have good motives. You can find common ground.”
This should have caused projectile groaning from coast to coast.
The popular but nonsensical notion that the irreconcilable differences of left and right, the contradictory and hard-held interests of various political factions, more pronounced now than ever in our history, can be papered over by a nice smile and a friendly handshake just won’t go away. Jeb!’s brother W, when he ran, said he would “change the tone of Washington,” meaning he would make everyone all friendly and snuggly and cooperative. He didn’t, of course. Obama cooed along the same lines in 2008, and look how that worked out.
The political divisions are real and can’t be finessed with friendliness or charm. Not even by compassionate conservative 2.0, as Jeb! is attempting to be. There is very little common ground to be had in today’s Washington. This is not a Mr. Rogers moment. Solomon only got away with it because the baby didn’t have to be cut in half. This stunt wouldn’t work in today’s Washington.
A better approach for contemporary candidates would be to concentrate efforts on winning for his/her side, not in charming the other side. This approach would be more honest, and probably more effective in this particularly prickly cycle. Look at the guy who holds a commanding lead on the Republican side. No hearts and flowers there. The only chance of overhauling the Donald would seem to call for realism without the rudeness. Saccharin sunshine won’t get it done this time. This is not a beautiful day in the neighborhood.