Jeb Bush: Biding His Time

SQUAWK BOX -- Pictured: Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida and 2016 presidential election candidate, in an interview on Sep
SQUAWK BOX -- Pictured: Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida and 2016 presidential election candidate, in an interview on September 9, 2015 -- (Photo by: David Orrell/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

It was an irritating summer for the Jeb Bush camp. The candidate is riding toward the back of the pack. Perhaps tomorrow, in the second televised GOP primary debate, the candidate will make a move, slipping streaming his way forward. To big ticket donors jiggling their pockets nervously, the Jeb! team urges "patience". Likely voters ought to question; patience for what?

During two terms as governor of Florida, the nation's third most populous state, Jeb Bush's political character was barely challenged by the mainstream media. In Florida deference was paid to the son and the brother of two presidents, no matter how brittle he acted.

In that unwaveringly friendly light, Jeb was depicted as a "policy wonk" and his impatience as the sign of a man on the move.

But Jeb's dismissiveness of critics is not a secondary character trait. Today Jeb talks about reviving the Big GOP Tent of Lee Atwater with joyfulness. That is virtually the polar opposite of how Jeb ran the executive office in Florida for eight years. There, the law of predetermined outcomes was buffed to high polish. Following family political practice, Jeb surrounded himself with loyalists. It followed that dissenters would be banished.

This point of view about Jeb may be news to many readers, because the press failed to report it. Now that Donald Trump broken ranks with Bush era political correctness, other former Republican leaders are venturing forward and affirming to the press what they were reticent to share while Jeb was in power in Florida.

Still, a disinformation campaign by the Bush camp continues.

Emphasizing bluster over ideas, Mr. Trump has turned the campaign into a tabloid-style clash of personalities, heavy on provocation and insults. What little policy that has been discussed mostly revolves around Mr. Trump's appeals to anxious white conservatives: stoking fears about immigrants, gang members and foreign countries that, in his telling, are eclipsing the United States.

It is a race, in other words, that embodies what Mr. Bush likes least about politics.

Mr. Bush is at his most animated discussing policy. And the only thing he may be more passionate about than issues is his conviction that the Republicans must become an inclusive, big-hearted party that appeals to people's hopes rather than their resentments.

"It's got to be difficult," said John McKager Stipanovich, a veteran Florida lobbyist who has known Mr. Bush for more than 30 years. "Donald Trump epitomizes everything that Jeb has spent his political career trying to prevent the Republican Party from becoming."

True, Bush may be most animated discussing policy, but The New York Times does a disservice by sliding past his Florida record. That record is in contradiction of the statement that Bush bears "conviction that the Republicans must become an inclusive, big-hearted party that appeals to people's hopes rather than their resentments."

In fact, Jeb Bush ran an executive office so shielded from diversity and diverse opinions on policy, that Tallahassee turned into a castle with a deep moat surrounded by high, smooth granite walls.

In Jeb Bush's world, dissent equals disloyalty, disloyalty equals excommunication. That is the bottom line in a recent report by Adam Smith in the Tampa Bay Times.

So, when Mac Stipanovich says, "Donald Trump epitomizes everything that Jeb has spent his political career trying to prevent the Republican Party from becoming", The New York Times ought to ask: Where is the truth in that? Where is the evidence?

Here is what Mac Stipanovich, Karl Rove and other Bush advisors should consider: by playing the fears, resentments and anxieties of the Republican base while operating a government-in-the-shadows on behalf of special interests -- Jeb Bush created exactly the conditions for a Donald Trump to thrive.

(To read more views like this, go to: alanfarago.wordpress.com and Eye On Miami, the daily blog I co-write under the pen name, gimleteye.)