Low-Energy Jeb! Bush Pens High-Energy Love Letter To Trump Clone Ron DeSantis
Jeb Bush was the first public casualty in Donald Trump’s march to the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. Trump humiliated Bush personally — famously dubbing him “low energy” — before pantsing him in the early primary contests. Bush dropped out of the race after a devastating fourth-place finish in South Carolina.
While he has no doubt tapped into the anxiety so prevalent in the United States today, I do not believe Donald Trump reflects the principles or inclusive legacy of the Republican Party. And I sincerely hope he doesn’t represent its future.
Jeb! was wrong. Trumpism became the GOP’s future, present, and frankly its past if you’re honest with yourself. If Trump himself isn’t the 2024 GOP nominee, it’ll be one of his disciples, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, for whom Bush has written a glowing testament in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People Of 2022.
Strap on your hip waders, we’re going in:
During the pandemic, most people stayed home, and those who didn’t probably moved to Florida. Despite relentless criticism, Governor Ron DeSantis kept schools open, ensured Florida’s economy remained open for business, and allowed individuals to determine their own risk tolerance. His approach works.
There have been a reported 6,081,013 COVID-19 cases in Florida, and a reported 74,374 have died. This is not a success story, but Bush has apparently embraced the GOP’s gaslighting approach to COVID-19.
[DeSantis’s leadership] has allowed Florida to emerge from the pandemic as a national model of personal freedom, economic growth, environmental protection, and education excellence. Florida continues to see record population growth, unemployment remains below the national average, the private sector is growing, and Florida remains a national leader in school choice. [ ... ]
While the Beltway crowd may not like his style, it’s his record that will become his legacy.
This is how Trumpists defended his gross behavior: "The elite might not like his style, but he gets results!” In 2016, Bush lamented that the Republican party was at risk of appearing "anti-immigrant, anti-women, anti-science, anti-gay, anti-worker and anti-common-sense.” DeSantis is defiantly and proudly all of these things. His pugilistic persona is exactly what Bush claimed to resent about Trump. The 2016 Jeb! cried out for “compromise (and) bipartisanship in our nation’s capital.” Now, he celebrates a Florida governor who picks fights with Mickey Mouse.
Bush accused the mad MAGA king of “grotesquely (manipulating) the deeply felt anger of many Americans. Trump’s abrasive, Know Nothing-like nativist rhetoric has blocked out sober discourse about how to tackle America’s big challenges.” DeSantis meanwhile caters to Trump supporters’ worst, most divisive instincts when he calls the Joe Biden administration the “Brandon administration” with a smug smile. During his February speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, DeSantis demonized half the country as a diabolical existential threat: "We're going to lead the charge here in Florida, but we need people all over the country to be willing to put on that full armor of God, to stand firm against the Left schemes.”
Laughably, Bush had blamed Barack Obama for Trump’s GOP takeover: "The president has wielded his power — while often exceeding his authority — to punish his opponents, legislate from the White House and turn agency rule making into a weapon for liberal dogma.”
Bush is apparently blind to DeSantis’s retaliatory, partisan attacks against Disney, his crack down on free thought at Florida universities, and his usurpation of the state legislature’s congressional mapmaking authority. Or maybe Bush is just a big hypocrite who thinks it’s all right if a Republican behaves like the despot Fox News insisted Obama was.
Ron DeSantis isn’t even a more polite version of Donald Trump. He’s just younger and, if you can believe it, less charismatic. Jeb! has gone full MAGA. We’re not at all surprised.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."