Did Jeb Bush really say today’s GOP would spurn Reagan?

A lot of people seem much more confident than I about what Jeb Bush meant in this rambling statement he made to Bloomberg:

“Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, similar to my dad, they would have a hard time if you define the Republican Party — and I don’t — as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement.”

Come again?

Streamline the statement, and it would appear the former Florida governor said:

“Ronald Reagan … based on his record of finding … common ground, similar to my dad … would have a hard time if you define the Republican Party … as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement.”

That’s how it’s being interpreted on the left, anyway. But Bush himself doesn’t even agree with that statement, as the “and I don’t” interjection makes clear. Instead, he appears to be agreeing with liberals that their common complaint that today’s GOP is out of step with Reaganism would be true, if only it weren’t false. Why he would put himself in the position of confirming a liberal straw man only to knock it down — knowing the confirmation would get more press — I do not know.

As we discussed just Friday, however, context is always helpful. And Bush book-ended the aforementioned statement with these:

“They got a lot of things done with bipartisan support, but right now it’s just difficult to imagine.”

and

“We’re in a political system in general that is in a very different place right now.”

Well, if Republican presidents used to be able to accomplish things “with bipartisan support,” and now that’s “difficult to imagine,” whose fault might that be? Bipartisanship requires two parties, so we can only guess he can’t see the Democrats going along if Reagan or Bush’s father were president today. Which is very different from the interpretation that today’s Republicans are out of step with their own predecessors.

The current president is a Democrat, so was Bush chiding the Republican members of Congress? Maybe, but that’s not necessarily what the rest of the Bloomberg report indicates:

Bush also criticized Obama for placing political gain ahead of negotiation in Washington — citing the failure of the president’s task force on debt and spending led by former Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming and Erskine Bowles, a former chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton.

“If he was a transcendent figure, which is what he ran as, I think he’s failed,” Bush said of Obama.

The president “had a chance” to address the long-term deficit with the remedy that Simpson and Bowles recommended, a package of taxes and spending cuts, he said, but didn’t “for political reasons.”

“It was purely a political calculation,” he said. “He created Simpson-Bowles and then abandoned it at birth.”

In other words, you have an elder statesman of the Republican Party saying a Democratic president failed to lead on an important issue. Which isn’t much of a story — or wouldn’t be, if a certain elder Democratic statesman hadn’t had so much trouble staying on message lately.

As for Bush’s line about having “a political system in general that is in a very different place right now,” I agree. Once upon a time, both sides in an argument presented their solutions, upon which they could negotiate a compromise. Today, we have a House Republican budget that is dismissed out of hand by Senate Democrats; transparently base-pandering budgets from the president which Senate Democrats have declined to endorse; and the failure of Senate Democrats to produce any kind of budget of their own for more than three years running.

Do you notice a common thread there?

Senate Democrats, and White House aides giving them cover, like to blame GOP obstructionism for this abdication of their responsibilities. But budget bills are not subject to cloture rules. Harry Reid could bring a budget to a vote any time he wanted and pass it with just 51 votes, or 50 votes plus Vice President Biden as a tiebreaker. Of course, that would require his fellow Democrats running the chamber’s committees to produce a budget that could be voted upon.

Instead, they seem to adopt the stance Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner took earlier this year toward the House GOP plan on behalf of the Obama administration:

We’re not coming before you to say we have a definitive solution to our long-term problem. What we do know is we don’t like yours.

If Bush, or anyone else, wants to complain about do-nothingism and the lack of compromise, they ought to recognize that each side has to declare what it wants before the other can meet it halfway.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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174 comments Add your comment

dc

June 11th, 2012
2:47 pm

And JFK might have challenges getting the current Dem politicians to go along with one of the largest tax cuts in US history………..so I guess he “would have a hard time if you define the Democrat Party … as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement.”…. guess what, times have changed. On both sides.

carlosgvv

June 11th, 2012
2:56 pm

Kyle, if Jeb was running for office and toeing the conservative line, you would be on bended knee before him and exalting his acheivments. However, since he dares to critize today’s GOP, you call his comments rambling and imply he really doesn’t know what he’s saying. This is precisely what I would expect from a marching in lock-step conservative like you.

Furious Styles

June 11th, 2012
3:01 pm

Jeb knew what he was saying and you do too. Stop playing games Kyle, its annoying.

Ayn Rant

June 11th, 2012
3:07 pm

Fiddle-faddle! Who needs to parse Jeb Bush’s statement as if it was a verse of Scripture. He is saying that the present Republican Party politicians are too dogmatic to participate effectively in elective, democratic government.

Isn’t that obvious? Consider the “accomplishments” of Republican congressional politicians to date: obstruction of economic recovery, no budget for federal spending, downgraded US credit rating, etc.
Only a fool would disagree with Jeb Bush’s observation!

Kyle Wingfield

June 11th, 2012
3:09 pm

Furious: You really don’t think the “if you define” and “I don’t” don’t undermine the rest of the statement?

Kyle Wingfield

June 11th, 2012
3:10 pm

Ayn: The House GOP has passed a budget. The Democrat-led Senate has not.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

June 11th, 2012
3:11 pm

If you vote like a dummycrat and embrace all of their ideas wholesale and without any changes then you are a bipartisan.

If you disagree with dummycrats they spit blood at you and try to pull your hair out.

So yeah, what’s Bushie talking about?

sheepdawg

June 11th, 2012
3:12 pm

kyle, you’re funny trying to twist jeb’s words. typical GOP rhetoric

Mr. Obvious

June 11th, 2012
3:15 pm

Any party that would nominate Mitt Romney to perpetuate the so-called “Patriot Act” while spurning the *DOMESTIC* & Constitution-centric philosophies of Ron Paul would certainly spurn Ronald Reagan. (Let’s set aside Dr. Paul’s Foreign policy for a moment, for the sake of argument.)

Do you think Reagan would be allowing infants and law-abiding grandmothers in wheelchairs to be hand-raped by TSA screeners while the federal government increasingly spies on its own citizens?

I don’t.

iggy

June 11th, 2012
3:15 pm

Jeb Bush…ugh. Wonder what Jeb thinks of our stagflation?

Mr. Obvious

June 11th, 2012
3:16 pm

Can you guess what 0bama’s & Bush’s Presidencies expanding the federal government and THE WIND have in common?

(Yep, that’s right.)

Jefferson

June 11th, 2012
3:17 pm

Ever since 2000 the GOP has done nothing for this country unless it helped the GOP 1st. The middle class is losing and the blame is on the GOP entirely.

iggy

June 11th, 2012
3:20 pm

Worry not Jefferson. When Romney takes the Whitehouse and the GOP take the House and Senate, we will resolve this mess created by Obama and the Dems.

Help is on the way!!

That's Goofy

June 11th, 2012
3:25 pm

Reagan would not fit into today’s conservative – real American – GOP / Tea Party. He raised taxes. Did not over turn Roe v Wade. Worst of all: compromised with Tip and the American hating Liberal Democrats.

Reagan was a leader not a political lackey.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

June 11th, 2012
3:28 pm

When I hear obozo blubber about the GOP obstructing his solutions for America’s problems, I always let out a little cheer and send along another check to GOPAC.

Bless their hearts.

a dad

June 11th, 2012
3:30 pm

let me play middle-of-the-road peacemaker her (and possible shorten Kyle’s column). Having listened to the statement, I think Jeb was taking both parties to task for refusing to compromise, and hopefully, everyone who blogs here has the honesty to admit that regarldess of whether they have a R or a D as their political affiliation, neither side is willing to compromise on just about anything. And yes, I’m more than willing to see actual, FACTUAL examples of COMPROMISE by either side (and no, saying this is my version of a bill is not compromise). There. That last part will keep this blog going.

That's Goofy

June 11th, 2012
3:30 pm

iggy is right. Why I remember how wonderful things were when the GOP ran things from 2001 – 2007. Except for the economy and housing market beginning to tank in 2005. There were a few unfunded wars too. The tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy helped the “job creators” get rich.

1 Party in control is help We The People can live without.

Mr. Obvious

June 11th, 2012
3:32 pm

My friends call me an “Ultra-Right-Winger,” and I think the only major differences between George W. Bush and “The Kenyan” are dancing ability, basketball skillz and legitimate proof of US Citizenship.

Bush destroyed civil liberties in this country with the Department of Homeland “Security.”

“The Kenyan” merely through my gas on that burning of freedom while distracting the simple-minded among us with his NCAA Basketball picks.

!VIVA REAGAN!

iggy

June 11th, 2012
3:32 pm

Dont worry…Help is on the way!!

Bob

June 11th, 2012
3:34 pm

aynrant, no budget from the house ? get a grip ! And speaking of budgets, why didn’t a single dem senator vote yeah on Obama’s budget ? Do senate dems want Obama to fail ? And Goofy, you mention the housing market as if it were repubs fault that it tanked, why ?

Jefferson

June 11th, 2012
3:45 pm

President Reagan was the 1st of the neo con big spenders. Jeb’s dad had some sense.

Brosephus™

June 11th, 2012
3:47 pm

Ummmmm Jay

Wrong Blog.

Kyle Wingfield

June 11th, 2012
3:49 pm

That’s Goofy @ 3:25: “He [Reagan] raised taxes.”

Yes, he did — in exchange for promises of spending cuts — those “compromise[s] with Tip and the American hating Liberal Democrats” to which you referred. If you want to know why conservatives don’t trust an approach of definite tax hikes for promises of spending cuts, see the very “compromise” you hail. It wasn’t a “compromise” as much as a betrayal by those who said they’d cut spending.

Either way, when Reagan left office the personal income tax had been reduced from a schedule of 16 brackets, topping out at 70 percent, to one with just two rates: 15 percent and 28 percent.

This year’s GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, is now proposing six brackets, topping out at 28 percent and spread out over a larger range of incomes, making his plan more progressive than Reagan’s. So, tell me again how Reagan wasn’t conservative enough for today’s Republican Party?

Jefferson

June 11th, 2012
3:50 pm

Romney knows nothing about fair taxes.

MrLiberty

June 11th, 2012
4:04 pm

Today’s GOP would spurn Jesus as he would be calling for the same “golden rule” foreign affairs policy that Ron Paul calls for and is booed over.

I would figure that Santorum would probably make the nails and the cross himself just to shut Jesus up as quickly as possible.

Jay

June 11th, 2012
4:05 pm

That’s funny. Sorry Kyle, posting on the wrong blog!

Chuck

June 11th, 2012
4:06 pm

Reagan, Nixon, Goldwater none of this men would be able to get nominated by todays Republican party and it is a shame. The party has been taken over by bible thumping extremist. The first election that I voted in, I voted for Reagan, I ended up being very angry with Reagan for the whole Iran Contra Scandel, but that did not turn me away from the party, it wasn’t until Jerry Farewell, Pat Robertson, and the the bible thumpers stole the party did I turn to the Libertarian Party. Jeb Bush is right and it will hurt the Republicans in the long run, they just have been lucky and the Democrats have turned to the other extreme, and that is the only reason the the Republicans still have a shot at any national elections. KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF OF MY MORALS.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 11th, 2012
4:08 pm

Earth to Bookman! Earth to Bookman!

Try replying on your own freakin’ blog, son.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

June 11th, 2012
4:09 pm

What’s kookman doing monitoring Wingnut’s blog?

Odd, isn’t it?

MrLiberty

June 11th, 2012
4:10 pm

Reagan loved big spending, starting wars, running secret government overthrow plots as did Bush the elder. How is that not consistent with today’s mainstream GOP? Certainly the Ron Paul revolution is trying to wake the GOP up to the insanity of these morally and financially bankrupting policies, but the mainstream still loves the big-spending, war mongering, empire building, police state. And likely Reagan would just change his rhetoric to win over those he needed to. He was just a puppet for the puppetmasters after all, and a professional actor who made it look easy. Bush was former CIA head so you know he would always fit in perfectly with those who actually run the show.

Now with Ten Percent Fewer Calories

June 11th, 2012
4:11 pm

If only Kyle, or better yet, Jeb, could offer up some evidence to support a claim that today’s Republican party is accomodative (note that some people denote that word to mean compromising).

Kyle Wingfield

June 11th, 2012
4:11 pm

It was an accident by Jay. He and I have cleared it up. Back to our regular discussion…

Rafe Hollister

June 11th, 2012
4:12 pm

Jeb has been walking around with a perpetual frown since the Florida primary. He is just disgusted that his views on immigration put him in opposite corners from most of those in the party. He is for amnesty and open borders, which is not going to get him elected as a Republican. His brother W, has the same views, but quickly dropped his advocacy, when he gauged the mood of the public. That is why he is so adamant that he is out as a VP candidate, he knows Romney is not going to inflame the party, with an immigration battle at this point.

His other conservative views put him at odds with the Democrats, so where does he go. He is retreating, until he hopes he becomes relevant again.

Cutty

June 11th, 2012
4:19 pm

Funny how Kyle takes everything Obama says at his word, but is somehow trying to climb in Bush’s mind and say he really didn’t mean what he clearly said.

getalife

June 11th, 2012
4:27 pm

cons run away from the truth.

You can run but you can’t hide from the truth.

Too funny.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 11th, 2012
4:30 pm

Allowing disagreement? Seriously?

Your leaders sign “pledges” like it’s the 3rd grade. It’s like Timmy down the street is starting a “No Girls Allowed Club”.

That is sooooo lock step, don’t get out of line. Pathetic.

Now with Ten Percent Fewer Calories

June 11th, 2012
4:35 pm

Your leaders sign “pledges” like it’s the 3rd grade. It’s like Timmy down the street is starting a “No Girls Allowed Club”.

No. That’s actually part of the GOP pledge too.

Dusty

June 11th, 2012
4:36 pm

Who cares what Jeb said? I don’t. He wouldn’t run for the presidency . He no longer is governor of Florida. He usually says nice things about Republicans so I imagine he is still being sensible. Anything liberals say about him should be ignored as prejudicial.

I admire his family. When he is on a presidential ticket I will listen more closly to what he says.

getalife

June 11th, 2012
4:36 pm

Looks like you missed the memo kyle.

You are supposed to be mad at jeb for taking sane and living in the real world.

CNN is talking about it.

wolf loves this yellow journalism.

Atlantan

June 11th, 2012
4:36 pm

Ignoring his self-appointed blue ribbon commission on cutting the deficit should be reason enough alone for the man to be sent back to Chicago for good this fall.

grated

June 11th, 2012
4:49 pm

I think I can safely translate what Jeb meant. The sentence is not confusing. He’s complaining about the Tea Party and their slash and burn policy against any and all dissent over their stand on the issues. Like birthers. Like tax cuts. Like entitlements. Like war. Like abortion.

If you don’t agree with the Tea Party, then you have no place in it. Reagan would have had a problem with the “no compromise” positions.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

June 11th, 2012
4:49 pm

Come on, Wingnut, that’s the second time that kookman has accidentally posted to this blog.

Is that weirdo spying on us?

Sam

June 11th, 2012
4:50 pm

take a look around kyle, he’s right. gop is in stall mode and has been for almost 3 years and its hurting our country. i know you’re not naive enough to think otherwise. you can say otherwise to appease your readers but you cant really believe it. or can you?

Hillbilly D

June 11th, 2012
4:51 pm

as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement.”

From where I sit, that could apply equally, to either party.

GT

June 11th, 2012
4:56 pm

So you are saying the Tea Party’s got their robes wide open and the problem here is those sorry Democrats. Now that is a shock that I am sure I will get over. What’s our credit rating? Somewhere south of perfect? And we had that problem how long out of hoe many centuries of doing business? Wonder what up and made the Democrats so difficult to do business with? Maybe it was one of those once every 2 or 300 year things.

Now with Ten Percent Fewer Calories

June 11th, 2012
5:00 pm

From where I sit, that could apply equally, to either party.

Sure. It could. Does it?

Kyle Wingfield

June 11th, 2012
5:05 pm

Cutty: All I’m doing is looking at what he actually said, not the juicy interpretation(s) of it.

Hillbilly D

June 11th, 2012
5:09 pm

Now with Ten Percent Fewer Calories

In my opinion, it does.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Unexpectedly Revised Downward--Again)

June 11th, 2012
5:15 pm

What’s our credit rating? Somewhere south of perfect? And we had that problem how long out of hoe many centuries of doing business?
————————

We had that problem at the same time we started thinking it was OK to run $1.5 trillion deficits every year.

Fred ™

June 11th, 2012
5:15 pm

Just a note on clarity. If you are going to delete Jay’s comments, you should delete ALL of them and Brocephus’s. It doesn’t make sense what you left. But then again this IS a Republican blog so making sense isn’t exactly of prime importance……….

Oh, and Ronnie would be called a RINO by today’s weirdo Republicans.