The burning Bush

Frank Bruni, the NYT scribe to whom Dubya mouthed “I love you, man” in 2000, pens another valentine to his boo in the Bush family, this time Jeb, who he says:

…learned between his 1994 defeat and 1998 victory to reach out to minorities and speak inclusively and hopefully. When he recently told an audience in Washington that a person had to be willing to lose the Republican primary to win the general election, he was in part alluding to that lesson, and he was telegraphing the tone that a Bush campaign would take. He was also signaling a suspicion of labels and boxes.

We’ve got something called the Internet that puts the cream pie in columnist’s faces:

From school vouchers to the death penalty, Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida has had one political success after another in his first year in office. But his sweeping program to end affirmative action in the state, modeled partly after the one in his brother’s state, Texas, has inflamed black leaders, even some who had supported him, and looms as the first real test of his administration.

The passions that have been swirling around his program, which among other things gives a break in college admissions to the poor instead of minorities, broke out in a historic theater in downtown Miami today, where 1,700 protesters filled the seats in the orchestra and balcony and hundreds more circled the block waiting their turn to get in.

Mr. Bush, a Republican, put his program, One Florida, into effect by executive order last November without inviting public comment, and he did not attend a hearing before 600 people last week in Tampa. But today he stayed for more than two hours, often taking notes.

Mr. Bush agreed to ask a legislative committee to conduct three hearings after two black legislators staged a sit-in at the Capitol.

”We are embracing diversity, not rejecting it,” Mr. Bush, the first speaker at today’s hearing, told the mostly black audience. ”This plan will create more opportunity for people.”

To a din of jeers, he added: ”This has been a difficult time for me. The last two weeks I have carried a heavy heart around.”

Then to deafening cheers, Carrie P. Meek, a Democrat and black congresswoman from Miami, spoke: ”The pain the governor feels is a self-inflicted wound.

I remember that meeting. I also remember one of the most mortifying and grotesque exercises in government overreach fueled by a loud and shrill minority in the Republic’s recent history. In 2003 my state legislature passed a bill with Jeb Bush’s signature giving him the authority to keep a feeding tube in Terri Schiavo’s vegetative body. Two years later President Bush interrupted a vacation to sign legislation transferring jurisdiction from state to federal court. The scene:

A crowd of about 50 people prayed and sang outside the hospice. One man played “Amazing Grace” on a trumpet, as a pickup truck pulled a trailer bearing 10-foot-high replicas of the stone Ten Commandments tablets and a huge working version of the Liberty Bell.

Gov. Bush, praised the actions of Congress. “We in government have a duty to protect the weak, disabled and vulnerable,” he said in a statement Monday. “I appreciate the efforts of state and federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who have taken this duty to heart.”

Conservatism in the Bush era: vigorous, emergency action on behalf of religious fundraisers.

Jeb Bush is a colorless campaigner; he has the personality of a copy machine. He won in Florida the first time against the tree stump of a lieutenant governor (briefly governor after his beloved predecessor Lawton Chiles died in office), the second at the peak of older bro’s popularity. He turned Florida into a lab for No Child Left Behind, slashed the state payroll, and accelerated the process by which the state returned to being a tax write-off for men like Armando Codina. Bush’s fluent Spanish is supposed to help him woo Hispanic voters — just like Marco Rubio’s support of an immigration bill.

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