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The Jeb Bush Show (Seriously Inadequate)

Former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush waits for his introduction at the Iowa Agriculture Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, 7 March 2015. (Photo by Jim Young/Reuters)

Consider, please, that while Donald Trump managed to get into a stupid fight with Rick Perry and win, this is actually about Jeb Bush:

Almost immediately after Donald Trump’s controversial remarks about Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) military service, Republican officials denounced the criticism in a specific way. “There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably,” the Republican National Committee said in an official statement.

The problem, of course, is that Republicans appear to apply that principle selectively. In 2004, John Kerry faced ridiculous lies about his heroic military service, and at the time, GOP leaders saw great political value in smearing a decorated war veteran.

Take Jeb Bush, for example. In January 2005, the day before his brother’s second inaugural, the Florida governor wrote a letter to the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” ringleader, expressing his appreciation for the smear campaign. Celebrating the “Swifties,” as Jeb Bush called them, the Republican wrote to retired Col. Bud Day, “Please let them know that I am personally appreciative of their service to our nation. As someone who truly understands the risk of standing up for something, I simply cannot express in words how much I value their willingness to stand up against John Kerry.”

In this case, “stand up to” was apparently a euphemism for “tell lies about.”

(Benen)

And while we might refer to the former Florida governor by his derisive title as the Serious Clown, the question remains as to why anybody thought Mr. Bush was a serious candidate. Maybe he needs another do-over.

(more…)

Election Reflection

It seems a vicious cycle.

One party, usually the Republican Party, stoops to a new low in campaigning. The people validate the maneuver because negative ads, argumentative fallacies, and outright lies are much more entertaining than boring policy details. Now it’s on the market. The other party must play along, or else get waxed yet again. And that’s when voters start complaining.

Detail of cartoon by Matt Wuerker, via Daily Kos, 6 November 2014.It’s been this way at least since Atwater.

Who remembers 2004?

With John Kerry on the Democratic ticket, a pack of angry conservatives who showed up for basically any election he was involved in unleashed their fury on the nation, denouncing him as having received combat awards he did not deserve. It got so bad that a man named Paul Galanti denounced truth as un-American. But the ringleader, named Larry Thurlow, swore up and down that he had eyes on Kerry and the future Massachusetts senator and U.S. Secretary of State did not do what the reports earning his medals said he did.

One of Kerry’s awards was for pulling a man out of the drink under fire. This is an ironic setup, of course, because life provides great punch lines.

Larry Thurlow himself received awards for that day.

And there was a third medal. Eventually a reporter figured out who received it and obtained the relevant reports.

That medal was for pulling Larry Thurlow out of the drink, while under fire.

You would think that would pretty much end the fake scandal. Except it didn’t.

The accusations continued to erode Kerry’s credibility, despite the fact of being untrue.

So the question is: In a competitive marketplace, why would what works not be adopted by competitors?

So every time Americans reward that kind of vice with votes, they are simply setting themselves up for more viciousness.

And then they complain about the wretched state of our politics.

There seems to be a contradiction in that outcome.

It is almost as if we are enacting a modern variation on the ancient scapegoat ritual, and elect politicians specifically to complain about them. And while that might seem an entertaining sport of some kind, it also has real, living consequences.

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Wuerker, Matt. “Poli Sci”. Daily Kos. 6 November 2014.