That lovable moderate Jeb Bush

The moderate Jeb Bush in 1994:

Bush’s tough brand of conservatism also featured new restrictions for Florida’s welfare recipients. In early 1994, Bush unveiled a welfare reform plan dubbed the “Phoenix Project.” The goal of the project, he later told the Miami Herald, was to “dismantle the welfare state and all the culture that comes from it.”

Under the plan, Florida would refuse to accept federal funds to aid the state’s poor families, and restrict benefits to just two years of assistance. To be eligible for benefits, poor women would be required to “identify the fathers of their children, submit to random drug tests and work if jobs were available,” according to a Herald story from March 1, 1994.

Bush’s welfare plan was an early sign of the sharply conservative tone that would come to characterize his entire campaign. In July, Bush published a now-infamous op-ed arguing against anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people, which he said were tantamount to elevating “sodomy.”

Except for the sodomy line, which was common in the mid 2000s if you hung out with Rick Santorum, please name one thing different from the 2014 edition of the GOP. I remember the 1994 campaign. Lawton Chiles’ victory surprised people in the year of the Gingrich Revolution, in part because Bush espoused Reaganism with the flair of a hearse chauffeur. And I’ll repeat, once Floridians elected him twice as governor, “Terri Schiavo, Terri Schiavo, Terri Schiavo.”

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