Once upon a time in the moderate wing of the Republican party, there was… a moderate wing of the Republican party.
Now, laments former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, those people are just called “Independents.”
Speaking at a press event in New York, the son and brother of former Republican presidents bemoaned a hyperpartisan GOP that would likely have no room for either his father or his father’s predecessor, conservative icon Ronald Reagan.
“Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would 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, doesn’t allow for finding some common ground,” Bush said, adding that he views the hyper-partisan moment as “temporary.”
“Back to my dad’s time and Ronald Reagan’s time – they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan suport,” he said. Reagan “would be criticized for doing the things that he did.”
Bush cited, in particular, “the budget deal my dad did, with bipartisan support — at least for a while — that created the spending restraint of the ‘90s,” a reference to a move widely viewed now as a political disaster for Bush, breaking a pledge against tax increases and infuriating conservatives. It was, Bush said, “helpful in creating a climate of more sustained economic growth.”
It’s a fairly damning declaration from a man whose family has literally held the reigns of power in the country for a large portion of the last two decades. Of course, during those two decades, the GOP had moved further and further to the right, trading their more moderate fiscal conservative voters for the extreme social agenda that comes with courting the religious right and “value voters.”
The political analysis must not have sat well with the current party leaders, however, and Bush is now trying to go back on those remarks and redo them in an “a pox on both your houses” clarification. Now he says he meant to say that Democrats are just as “hyperpartisan” and unwilling to work with Republicans, leading to political gridlock.
“The point I was making yesterday is this: The political system today is hyperpartisan. Both sides are at fault,” Bush said on twitter. “My dad & Reagan sacrificed political points for good public policy… Past 4 years, Democrats have held leadership roles with opportunities to reach across political aisle. For sake of politics, they haven’t.”