The Crumbiness of Toast!

Speaking of being out of touch with the times, consider the politician formerly known as “the smarter brother” until he embarked on a national political campaign and we all realized he isn’t.  In truth, Toast! is in some ways a more pathetic doofus than Dubya, if that’s possible. Just goes to show how nepotism and cronyism can carry one way beyond his level of competence.  #Jeb!

Anyway, Toast! dropped some jaws yesterday when he praised Michigan Governor Rick Snyder for his handling of the Flint water crisis.

I’ll pause a moment to let that sink in.

Toast! blamed the crisis on too much government regulation, and then praised Snyder for stepping up to solve the problem. Seriously; he did that. I’m not sure even the rubes will buy that one.

A few days ago the Toast! campaign — no, he actually hasn’t dropped out yet — released his education platform. It includes lots of “school choice” rhetoric and stuff about “expanding charter schools.”

Although charter schools still have a lot of supporters, my sense is that the once soaring idea is quickly becoming a lead balloon. It’s like privatizing Social Security; the more people look at it, the less popular it gets.  And it opens Bush up to additional scrutiny about his absolutely awful charter school failures in Florida. See, for example,

The Big Jeb Bush Charter School Lie

Florida’s big charter school problem (which Jeb Bush manages not to talk about)

Charter School in Miami Fails, but Proves Useful on Jeb Bush’s Résumé

Testing Time: Jeb Bush’s Educational Experiment

That last article proposes that Toast!’s charter school initiative was supposed to be his answer to Dubya’s “no child left behind” program. We might also remember that one of Dubya’s claims in 2000 was the story of the “Texas miracle,” and how his reforms had so improved Texas schools. And then we found out the “miracle” was based on phony numbers. But that didn’t become public knowledge until after Dubya was selected. Toast!’s claims are already thoroughly debunked.

Not that it matters, since nobody is paying any attention to Toast! any more.

Please Proceed, Jeb!

Jeb! has told us we common folk need to work longer hours and retire later. Now comes his pitch for the African American vote:

Bush pointed to his record on school choice and said that if Republicans could double their share of the black vote, they would win the swing states of Ohio and Virginia.

“Our message is one of hope and aspiration,” he said at the East Cooper Republican Women’s Club annual Shrimp Dinner. “It isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting — that says you can achieve earned success.”

Yes, the “free stuff” line worked so well for Mittens four years ago. And let me add that’s it’s just too rich for a Bush to be chiding others about achieving “earned success.”

Update: I didn’t see this coming — John Boehner will resign from Congress in October.

Reverse Wedging

When the nuclear deal with Iran was first announced, a number of right-wing media sources gleefully speculated that it would hurt Hillary Clinton — for example —

Republicans want to yoke Mrs. Clinton to the Iran deal, betting that voters—particularly those in the normally Democratic Jewish community—will see the accord as a capitulation that in the end will lead to Iran getting nuclear weapons. Exit polls show that Mr. Obama won 69% of the Jewish vote in 2012, which was 10 percentage points less than Al Gore’s share in 2000, according to the Pew Research Center.

WSJ has been seeing “cracks” in the Jewish-Democratic alliance for months. Whether there are any cracks other than in WSJ’s head I cannot say. But even before the agreement was announced, polls showed that American Jews were more likely than other Americans to want an agreement with Iran. I suspect American Jews on the whole are better informed about Iran than other Americans and have a few clues about what’s at stake.

I haven’t seen any post-agreement polls that call out Jewish opinion specifically. Jewish-American organizations are lining up on both sides of the issue, along expected lines, but whether that will change the minds of Jewish-American voters remains to be seen.

An ABC News / Washington Post poll taken last week shows the American public supporting the agreement, 56 percent to 37 percent. A large part of the people supporting the agreement are skeptical it will work, but want to give it a try, anyway. For the record, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley have all expressed support for the deal.

However, I wrote a few days ago, Republican politicians are stumbling all over themselves competing for Biggest Trash Talker of the Iran Deal. This week’s award for Most Reckless Trash Talker possibly goes to Scott Walker, who not only has promised to end the deal on his first day in office, but said that he may have to take military action on his first day in office. Greg Sargent writes,

A dispute has erupted between Scott Walker and Jeb Bush over how to handle the task of undoing Obama’s Iran deal as president, with Bush hinting that Walker is approaching the issue with a lack of maturity, and Walker suggesting that Bush is not zealous enough about confronting the enemy.

Walker is also saying that it’s “very possible” the next president will have to take military action on Day One of his presidency — though it’s unclear whether he means against Iran in particular, or more generally.

The argument says a lot about the two candidates’ differing calculations with regard to the level of nuance GOP primary voters are prepared to entertain about the Iran deal, and more broadly, about foreign policy in general.

Foreign policy experts (the non-Zionist ones anyway) are fairly unanimous that the deal could prevent war and a nuclear-armed Iran, whereas no deal would likely either lead to war or a nuclear-armed Iran. And I really don’t think the American people on the whole are in the mood for starting more wars or electing some guy who thinks he may have to declare war as soon as he takes his hand off the Bible on inauguration day.

Barring unforeseeable developments, I don’t see the deal hurting Dems, including HRC. It could easily hurt Republicans, though.

The GOP Needs a Better Base

Do y’all remember William Bennett, the guy who made a good living as a public morality scold until it was discovered he had millions of dollars in gambling debts? He hasn’t entirely gone away, but he gets less attention than he used to.

You might remember that Bennett was so disappointed that the American people weren’t more outraged by the Clinton-Lewinsky that he wrote a whole book about it, The Death of Outrage. He saw President Clinton’s popularity as a sign that the American public was morally depraved. (Big Bill averaged a 61 percent approval in his second term, and his high point in December 1998 was 73 percent, according to Gallop.)

I thought of Bennett this morning when I saw this piece at National Review, whining about the Republican base. Kevin Williamson calls that part of the base that is putting Donald Trump at the top of the GOP polls the WHINOS, because they whine about the Republican establishment.

What’s generally misunderstood on the left is that the tea-party movement did not arise as an alternative to the Obama-Reid-Pelosi Democrats but as an alternative to the Bush-McConnell-Hastert Republicans, who were judged to have spent too much, warred too recklessly, and — most significant — to have been too ready to make themselves complicit in the bailouts. …

…You know the RINO — Republican In Name Only — but you may be less familiar with the WHINO. The WHINO is a captive of the populist Right’s master narrative, which is the tragic tale of the holy, holy base, the victory of which would be entirely assured if not for the machinations of the perfidious Establishment. Never mind the Democrats, economic realities, Putin, ISIS, the geographical facts of the U.S.-Mexico border — all would be well and all manner of things would be well if not for the behind-the-scenes plotting of Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and their enablers, who apparently can be bribed with small numbers of cocktail weenies. The WHINO is a Republican conspiracy theorist, in whose fervid imaginings all the players — victims, villains — are Republicans. Barack Obama? Pshaw. The real enemy is Jeb Bush….

…Which is to say, the WHINO loves Trump not because Trump confounds the Democrats or because he constitutes a serious threat to a Democratic victory in 2016, but because he confounds the Republicans and constitutes a serious threat to a Republican victory in 2016.

Williamson manages to write this whole column without dealing honestly with the one issue that is earning Trump so much WHINO love, which is immigration. I well remember even during Dubya’s first term, when he was still coasting on the false impression that he actually knew what he was doing about terrorism, there was grumbling on rightie blogs that he was soft on immigration. The fact is, the Republican base is cemented together with a whole lot of nativism, along with racism and resentment of anyone comfortable with diversity. It was the Right, not liberals, who lashed out and killed Dubya’s immigration reform efforts.

The GOP establishment thought the baggers were grand when they could be mobilized to shut down town hall meetings about Obamacare. Then they ran Jeb up the flagpole, and the baggers failed to salute. Instead, they are flocking to Trump, who is speaking their language and throwing them red meat in quantity. Because, ultimately, that’s all baggers want. They aren’t interested in actual government policy. They want leaders and spokespeople who will validate their bigotries and give voice to the howling, ugly hate and demented envy that gnaws at their souls.

And now, having chased anyone who actually cared about governing, or even America, out of the party, the GOP is faced with a base that no longer understands, or cares, how the game is played. And the GOP establishment is beginning to realize they no longer control the Frankenstein’s monster they cultivated all these years.

The Smarter Brother Reveals Serious Family IQ Deficit

Anyone who harbored the thought that Jeb might be a better man than Dubya by now should have evicted that thought and changed the locks. Raw Story:

In an interview with the Union Leader, aspiring 2016 Republican presidential nominee Jeb Bush took a slap at the foreign policies of President Barack Obama, stating that the leader of the  free world uses too many big words and wastes his time at conferences with world leaders instead of forging ahead.

In video captured by C-SPAN, Bush criticized the White House’s nuclear negotiations with Iran calling it, “the Clinton-Kerry-Obama foreign policy playing out.”

Bush then advocated for more blunt and simple type of statesmanship — reminiscent of the style of his brother, former President George W. Bush as well as Vice President Dick Cheney — in dealing with world.

“You don’t have to be the world’s policemen, but you have to be the world’s leader and there’s a huge difference,” Bush explained. “This guy — this president and Secretary Clinton and Secretary Kerry – when someone disagrees with their nuanced approach where it’s all kind of so sophisticated it makes no sense. You know what I’m saying?”

Bush continued, “Big syllable words and lots of fancy conferences and meetings and – We’re not leading. That creates chaos. It creates a more dangerous world. So restoring the alliances that have kept the world safer and our country safer – getting back to a position in the Middle East where there’s no light between Israel and the United States.”

One wonders whom the Bushies hire to help Jeb use a fork and tie his shoes.

The Smarter Brother Actually Said This

Jeb Bush:

“My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of this rut that we’re in.”

Even better than Mittens’s “47 percent” remark, I’d say. This was from a live-streamed interview. Which means there’s video.

Jeb is toast.

See also “Overworked America: 12 Charts That Will Make Your Blood Boil.”

Update: Scott Walker and Republicans in the Wisconsin state legislature just eliminated workers’ rights to weekends off.

The Smarter Brother?

Has Jeb been having a bad week, or what? It started with Roger Simon asking if he’d been dropped on his head as a child. Today Karl Rove gingerly tip-toed around endorsing him. Gail Collins flat-out said Jeb Bush is awful.

What seems to have slipped out is that Jeb may be just as dim as his older brother George. If we hadn’t realized that before, it’s possibly because Jeb never affected a dopey Texas accent or an idiot-child smirk and learned to chew his food with his mouth closed. Otherwise …

Jeb Disaster Week began on Monday, when this happened on Fox News —

Megyn Kelly: Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?
Jeb Bush: I would’ve. And so would’ve Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, and so would’ve almost everybody who was confronted with the intelligence they got.

I should mention that this was shortly after Jeb was reported to have told private financiers that brother George was his go-to guy on Middle East matters.

Phillip Bump provides us with the Fox News statement and all of the subsequent walkbacks and clarifications. Jeb said he hadn’t heard the question correctly, which is possible, and he thought he was being asked if going into Iraq was the right decision at the time. But even if that’s what he meant, (a) it wasn’t [*]; and (b) he then goes on and on about how the reason Iraq didn’t turn out so well was that mistakes were made after the invasion.

As the week went on, Jeb went from yes to maybe to who knows? Finally, yesterday, he said at a town hall meeting that knowing what we know now, he would not have invaded Iraq.

Many have already expressed astonishment that Jeb wasn’t better prepared for this question. Gail Collins:

The bottom line is that so far he seems to be a terrible candidate. He couldn’t keep his “I’m-my-own-man” mantra going through the spring. He over-babbled at a private gathering. He didn’t know how to answer the Iraq question, which should have been the first thing he tackled on the first day he ever considered that he might someday think for even a minute about running for president.

See also:

His dayslong bobble became the talk of Republican politics, from the campaign trail in Nevada to Washington. A group of Republican senators meeting this week on Capitol Hill were nearly incredulous that Mr. Bush did not have a better answer and joked about how many press aides he needed to respond to such a basic matter, according to a party strategist who heard the conversation.

“Jeb’s curb appeal was supposed to be experience, pedigree and smarts, and therefore ready to lead,” said one Republican senator, who insisted on anonymity to speak candidly about a presidential hopeful. “These kinds of statements plant him squarely in the middle of the primary pack — with G.O.P. voters unsure of exactly what political lessons he truly has learned.”

FYI, this week’s Fox News poll shows Jeb Bush tied for first place for the GOP nomination with Dr. Ben Carson. Walker, Huckabee and Rubio round out the top five.

Today Paul Krugman weighed in on Jeb’s Very Bad Week, and here’s just a bit:

Incredibly, Mr. Bush resorted to the old passive-voice dodge, admitting only that “mistakes were made.” Indeed. By whom? Well, earlier this year Mr. Bush released a list of his chief advisers on foreign policy, and it was a who’s-who of mistake-makers, people who played essential roles in the Iraq disaster and other debacles.

Seriously, consider that list, which includes such luminaries as Paul Wolfowitz, who insisted that we would be welcomed as liberators and that the war would cost almost nothing, and Michael Chertoff, who as director of the Department of Homeland Security during Hurricane Katrina was unaware of the thousands of people stranded at the New Orleans convention center without food and water.

In Bushworld, in other words, playing a central role in catastrophic policy failure doesn’t disqualify you from future influence. If anything, a record of being disastrously wrong on national security issues seems to be a required credential.

It’s possible Jeb’s campaign can survive, but Jeb wasn’t just supposed to be the smarter brother; he was the “serious” candidate, the one who didn’t come across as a refugee from Barnum and Bailey. I wonder how much attention he’s paid to the national mood since he left the Florida governor’s office in 2007. Has he spent the last eight years locked in a time capsule? Or was he never that sharp to begin with?

Update: Josh Marshall writes,

It is one of the key features of early 21st century political campaigns and political life in general that every political figure requires a chorus of dedicated partisans who lay down the equivalent of covering fire in their leader’s defense. Sometimes this happens with a political figure who attracts intense loyalty. But that’s seldom required. Partisans on both sides of the political divide will generally rush to the defense of almost any political figure on their team, even if the person isn’t terribly well liked or even if they’re getting grief for something that is pretty hard to defend. …  In a highly partisan, polarized political world having a chorus of defenders, with a set list of arguments and slogans is critical to survival.

Through all of this though, almost no one is standing up for Jeb or putting together arguments, no matter how silly, in his defense. He’s out there swinging in the wind, totally alone. We know that Bush is not well loved by Movement Conservatives or Tea Partiers. So in one sense this isn’t terribly surprising. But somehow there’s more to it than that. His lack of any defenders is unique to him.

On the other hand, Jeb has raised a ton of cash from the “traditional Republican donor class.” So he’s likely to stay in the race until the end, win or lose.


[*] See Paul Waldman, The Myth of Faulty Intelligence