A kinder, gentler Jeb Bush
Beth Reinhard, the former Miami Herald reporter who's now with National Journal, writes compares Jeb Bush of today with years past
Former Gov. Jeb Bush has been sounding downright squishy lately, decrying partisan backbiting and waxing poetic about compromise.
He sighed that his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and former President Ronald Reagan would have a "hard time'' fitting into today's Republican Party because they were willing to seek consensus with Democrats. He scoffed at a congressional hearing that he never signed anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist's pledge because you don't "outsource your principles and convictions to other people.'' He lamented "hyperpartisan'' politicians in Washington and called the GOP "shortsighted.''
To the Florida Democrats who clashed with him repeatedly when he served from 1998 to 2006, this is not the Jeb Bush they knew and frequently did not love.
One lawmaker dubbed the headstrong governor "King Jeb'' for his my-way-or-the-highway approach to governing while brandishing strong Republican majorities in both legislative chambers. He tied public school funding to standardized tests, launched a private school voucher program. banned affirmative action in state contracts and university admissions, and championed prolonging the life of a severely brain-damaged woman -- all the while igniting partisan firestorms.
Dan Gelber, who served as the Democratic leader in the Florida House under Bush and disagreed with him fiercely on all of the aforementioned issues, has been, well, "surprised'' by Bush's conciliatory tone of late.
"When Jeb Bush is saying it's gotten hyperpartisan, that's really something. It shows you how far the needle has moved,'' Gelber quipped. "He was quite a partisan guy....Payback was also part of his agenda, no question. He took care of his friends and went after his enemies.''
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