The Jeb Bush Show (Fancy & Shame)

Republican U.S. presidential hopeful and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush waves after he spoke during the 'Road to Majority' conference June 19, 2015, in Washington, DC. Conservatives gathered at the annual event held by the Faith & Freedom Coalition and Concerned Women for America. (Detail of photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It would seem we were not the only ones who noticed.

Matthew Yglesias looked into the Jeb Bush’s suggestion of four percent GDP growth:

But 4 percent is not really a round number. The US economy grew faster than 2 percent in 2014, 2013, and 2012 and is projected by most economists to grow faster than 2 percent in 2015. Economists surveyed by the Associated Press, Politico, and the New York Times all doubted that 4 percent growth was achievable.

Wednesday, speaking in Iowa, Jeb defended the 4 percent target on the grounds that “aspirational goals” are important in politics.

According to James Glassman, Bush originally selected this goal at random, backed by zero substantive analysis of any kind:

That ambitious goal was first raised as Bush and other advisers to the George W. Bush Institute discussed a distinctive economic program the organization could promote, recalled James Glassman, then the institute’s executive director.

“Even if we don’t make 4 percent it would be nice to grow at 3 or 3.5,” said Glassman, now a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. In that conference call, “we were looking for a niche and Jeb in that very laconic way said, ‘four percent growth.’ It was obvious to everybody that this was a very good idea.”

No, really, is there any telling that doesn’t make the story sound incredibly stupid? As Howard Schneider and Steve Holland explained for Reuters, “Asked by Reuters during a campaign-style stop in New Hampshire on Thursday how he had arrived at the figure, Bush said: ‘It’s a nice round number. It’s double the growth that we are growing at. It’s not just an aspiration. It’s doable.'”

Except, as we hear, it really isn’t doable. Here’s how it works.

Quite simply, who could be against four percent growth? Now, the obvious answer there is that it depends on how you achieve that outcome; we might consider ourselves warned, as John Cohcrane of the Hoover Institution foretells, “It depends how radically Mr. Bush plans to restructure the economy“.

So, four percent growth? Don’t be a naysayer. Don’t be down on America. Except they’ve already promised us they’ll be happier with a smaller return. The point is to “restructure the economy”. By the time it is clear their growth plan has failed, the damage will be done.

And we have been told all this at the outset.

The manner in which basic right and wrong are now politicized is disgraceful. As with Rick Perry, Mr. Bush has chosen to blither and equivocate and pander in hopes of comforting white supremacists. Laura Bassett and Igor Bobic of Huffington Post try to explain:

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said Friday that he isn’t sure what motivated a young white man to walk into a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, Wednesday night and kill nine people.

“I don’t know what was on the mind or the heart of the man who committed these atrocious crimes,” the former Florida governor said at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference.

The shooter, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, was crystal clear about his motive: He reportedly announced he was there to kill black people, saying at the church, “You rape our women, and you’re taking over the country. And you have to go” ....

.... Republicans, however, are having a hard time attributing the mass shooting to racism. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) said in a statement on Thursday that “we do know that we’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another.” And conservative analysts on Fox News floated the theory that Roof was targeting Christians, rather than African-Americans.

This is the sort of cynicism conservatives used to warn about liberals. Moral relativity. Nothing has any real value. Of course it is conservatives who bring their prophecies to bear; that’s just how it goes.

While prominent Republicans like Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee struggle to legitimize child molestation, this week’s new conservative shiny thing is to protect murderous racism. And with presidential politicians leading the way, we are once again left to the spokesmen to tell us that of course the candidate believes the obvious thing that he refused to say while saying something entirely different. Jeb needs another do-over, and doesn’t even have the courage to do it himself.

These people want to be president. Mr. Bush was supposedly the “serious candidate” coming into this contest. Mr. Huckabee will stand with child molestation? Messrs. Perry and Bush will cover for mass murdering white supremacism?

The GOP is working hard to establish clear lines. Remember this, after the primary campaign is done, and you’re told to forget about this all because, you know, Etch-A-Sketch, or maybe both sides do it because all politicians are the same.

There is a difference.

To wit, presidential candidates who will lend their voices in comfort of mass murder.


Image note: Republican U.S. presidential hopeful and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush waves after he spoke during the ‘Road to Majority’ conference June 19, 2015, in Washington, DC. Conservatives gathered at the annual event held by the Faith & Freedom Coalition and Concerned Women for America. (Detail of photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Yglesias, Matthew. “Jeb Bush’s 4% growth promise is 104% nonsense”. Vox. 18 June 2015.

Schneider, Howard and Steve Holland. “How an off-the-cuff remark shaped Jeb Bush’s economic vision for U.S.”. Reuters. 22 May 2015.

Bassett, Laura and Igor Bobic. “Jeb Bush: ‘I Don’t Know What Was On The Mind’ Of Charleston Shooter”. The Huffington Post. 19 June 2015.

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