After patiently playing high school nerd to Donald Trump’s masterful bully, Jeb Bush finally has hit back. His people produced a TV advertisement with video loops of the Donald, looking about twenty-seven years old, voicing his opinions to interviewers from the past on various social and political issues. From these sound bites it emerges that once upon a time – I believe during the Eisenhower administration – Trump considered himself a Democrat. There is even one clip in which his hair looks as dark as Megyn Kelly’s roots.
OK, I am obfuscating a bit. He also has said that he wants to raise taxes on hedge fund operations, and that the single-payer medical insurance system works well in other countries. Feel free to add any transgressions that I have overlooked.
For Jeb Bush to pay good money for advertisements complaining that an opponent is too liberal is analogous to Jeffrey Dahmer complaining because Chris Christie has poor eating habits. Of all the issues for Jeb (Act of Love) Bush to single out, this would seem to be the one on which he most lacks credibility.
What we have to decide, if we are being honest with ourselves and each other, is whether we want to elect a Republican who is the Platonic ideal of a conservative – say, someone like the late Senator Bricker of Ohio or Senator Bob Taft, same state. Or do we want to elect someone who is running as a Republican, who has a strong program with ample features that appeal powerfully to Republicans and independents, and who has the guts and stamina to carry that program out. If it comes down to Trump or Hillary, are you going to let Hillary win because Trump might raise taxes on hedge fund managers? Wait till you see what she wants to do to them. Parental discretion is advised.
In recent decades, the closest we have come to nominating a pure conservative was just three years ago, when Rick Santorum was fighting a valiant but losing battle in the primaries against Mitt Romney. Santorum was a purer conservative than Ronald Reagan. He was impeccably conservative, and endearingly so. Rush Limbaugh bestowed his blessings on Santorum – literally. He exclaimed “God bless him.”
I don’t recall Jeb Bush saying that he would have preferred Santorum to Romney. That is the same Romney whom President Obama mischievously credited with inspiring Obamacare.
If you want Trump – and a striking plurality of Republicans do at this point – then you have to take the whole package. Kibitzers, even the likes of Sean Hannity, who should know better, have occasionally advised the Donald to change this or that about himself. (Hannity even wanted him to show a willingness to apologize.)
What these kibitzers appear to want is someone who is named Donald Trump, but who isn’t Donald Trump. No way is that going to work out well for the Donald.
So, as I say, whatever may be the precise delineations of his philosophy, there is no point in expecting him to adhere rigidly to some academic’s definition of conservatism – or anything else. Let him be himself, vote for him if you like what you see, don’t if you don’t, and let’s see if he spares the nation the unspeakable horror of a Hillary Clinton administration.