Remember when former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the consummate “moderate Republican,” shocked everyone by calling immigration an “act of love?” It looks like he’s changed his mind. On Thursday, he called for nearly all of the 50,000-plus immigrants in limbo on our Southwest border to be sent home. That is, “except for those deserving few who may demonstrate a true case for asylum.” Deserving few? Someone should ask Bush which of the children fleeing impoverished and violent countries (where they have a 1 in 15 chance of being murdered) like Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras “deserve” to be sent home. Someone should also ask him whether the children at our border deserve to live under atrocious conditions in America, the country Republicans constantly praise and never stop disgracing. Someone should ask Bush if this is how we respond to “acts of love.”
To be fair, Bush doesn’t sink to blaming the victims outright. Instead, he blames President Obama, claiming that the massive influx of immigrants into America is “the latest consequence of the failure of President Barack Obama and Congress to overhaul America’s broken immigration.” Apparently, the House GOP’s refusal to even vote on an immigration bill drafted by a bipartisan “Gang of 8” and passed in the Senate is due to Obama’s lack of leadership. How about John Boehner’s lack of leadership? Why not place some blame with the man so utterly weak and spineless that he cannot bring his caucus to vote on one of the most important pieces of legislation of the past eight years. Bush does not suggest what Obama could have done differently, or how “Congress” as a whole should have functioned better. He simply adopts a smug, superior tone, gets on his high horse and lectures the President about leadership, just like other Republican governors who want to pass themselves off as “outsiders” while offering no solutions of their own.
Jeb Bush’s empty, partisan rhetoric is particularly galling because he, in contrast to his brother, is meant to represent the brains of the GOP. He is a policy wonk and eccentric intellectual who stands apart from the rabid populism of the Tea Party. It is discouraging that, at least in this case, his rhetoric is “Tea Party-lite,” offering none of the substance his reputation would suggest. If all Jeb Bush brings to the table is a meeker version of Tea Party ideology, he’s not much better than Rick Perry and Ted Cruz. After all, speaking crazy ideas a little more softly doesn’t make them less crazy, even when you try and fail to justify them in Wall Street Journal Op-Eds. It appears that the GOP’s search for sane leadership, of which the future of America may depend on, must continue. And, if Jeb gets his way, so must the misery of 50,000 poor children languishing at our border.