Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is still nursing presidential aspirations, despite Republican unease about the “comprehensive immigration reform” he whole-heartedly supports, after losing an argument with himself and immediately backpedaling from a book he had only just published.
Bush chose to deal with this unease by attacking the uneasy, referring to them as “chirpers” in a CBN interview following his appearance before the Faith and Freedom Coalition. “I will be able to, I think, manage my way through all the ‘chirpers’ out there,” he said, apparently playing off Senator John McCain’s reference to his conservative colleagues Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee as “wacko birds.” Bush’s comment comes near the end of the video clip embedded below:
Bush does have some good conservative points in his resume, and I’ve always thought it was facile to assume he can’t possibly win based solely on his last name. (I’d compute it as a net minus, especially if the Democrats don’t run Hillary Clinton, because then they could exploit the general American reluctance to establish political dynasties. But it’s not an insurmountable obstacle.)
But are Republicans really eager to run another candidate who drops a lot of “inartful” statements? Last week, at another Faith and Freedom Coalition event, he said this: “Immigrants create far more businesses than native-born Americans. Immigrants are more fertile, and they love families, and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population. Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity.”
There might be a valid demographic point buried in there somewhere, and it plays into Bush’s view of the importance of traditional families for every demographic, as he mentioned in the CBN video above… but “immigrants are more fertile?” Hoo boy. I would not relish running a campaign with sound bites like that hanging from my neck.
And do we really want another candidate who runs harder against Republicans than he does against the Democrat? Do the A-list Democrat candidates ever disrespect parts of their own coalition by calling them names? That seems to be an exclusive fetish of the Stupid Party, in part because the media’s not interested in goading Democrats into public battles with large segments of their base. They’re not even terribly interested in forcing Democrats to denounce their extremists.
Too many Republicans at the top of the ticket underestimate the effects of damaging the Republican brand. They don’t understand how indelicate criticism and name-calling come back to haunt them. They’ll receive no credit from the media for needling the people they don’t like, and it doesn’t sway a lot of moderate Democrats or independents, because they’re not attracted to a party that seems to be at war with itself. But they do manage to depress their own base turnout. The Republican base includes plenty of serious voters with long memories. Do we need another lesson in how they’ll stay home during the general election, if they were insulted during the primary, or even long before the primary begins?
There will always be factional struggles during the run-up to a national election. Democrats have them too. Some of Hillary Clinton’s most loyal supporters are still miffed at the way she was treated by the Obama campaign in 2008. But I don’t recall Barack Obama calling Hillary’s supporters names, or describing them as an obstacle he thought he could “manage.”