Friday, July 10, 2009

Jeb's Esquire interview

The text of the interview that our next Republican President former Florida government and current leading hope of the Bush dynasty, Jeb Bush, did for Esquire is now online: Jeb Bush: The Future of the Republican Party 07/08/09. The interviewer is conservative pundit Tucker Carlson.

Our next Republican President Jeb is pretty explicitly saying that he's trying to promote what another Bush dynasty member might have called a "compassionate conservative" marketing strategy for the same Predator State strategy his brother and Dick Cheney practiced for eight years. He basically says he's glad the OxyContin radio screamers are doing what they are doing, but he wants Republican elected officials to project a more restrained and dignified image in public places.

He's about as explicit as it gets in saying that the Republicans' electoral troubles are not in substance or policy but are rather a matter of packaging, messaging, marketing:

Conservatives can win, can draw people toward our cause with the proper language and the proper ideas. I don't think that conservatism has been rejected in the United States. I don't believe it. ...

I don't think all is lost. The country is a center-right country. The problem has been that conservatives in positions of responsibility, particularly in the Congress, lost their way. And in general conservatism has gotten a little nostalgic and less focused on the here and now, and on the future. I'm a huge Ronald Reagan fan. The Republican primary was almost all about Ronald Reagan: Who was the heir to Ronald Reagan? Well, I mean, Ronald Reagan would be talking about ideas, would be talking about broad principles, would be talking about issues, more than what we heard in the primaries. The world is radically different than it was in the 1980s, dramatically different. ...

I don't think there's any seismic shift. The Democrats have won on tactics. ... In fact, [Obama] basically won the tax debate, which is breathtaking if you think about it. Cutting taxes is generally considered a center-right idea, not a center-left or left idea. He made it appear like McCain was going to raise taxes, which was unfair, but there was no response back. When there was an ideological component, it was generally centrist or even center-right. Had he said what he was going to do as a candidate, [Obama] would have lost. [my emphasis]
That's the "compassionate conservative" posture that they famously compassionate George W. Bush used in his Presidential candidacy in 1999-2000. Say things like, "The world is radically different than it was in the 1980s, dramatically different," that your press admirers can pick up on to say, now here's a man with fresh ideas and a new vision. But for policy, stick to the same old boilerplate slogans like in this interview: "What's the alternative? The alternative is to take time-tested practices and convert them to the world we live in. Which means you're going to cut taxes and cut spending."

Got that? Our next Republican President Jeb understands that the world has changed radically in the three decades since Reagan successfully ran for President on a program of cutting taxes and cutting spending. And so we need a radically new message for these very changed circumstances: "cut taxes and cut spending."

Our next Republican President Jeb is also a climate change denier, like virtually all of his Party:

Barack Obama would not have gotten elected if he'd let us in on his secret plan prior to the election. He would not have gotten elected if he'd said, "... My idea is to create a massive cap-and-trade system [based on the idea] that CO2 is [a] pollutant and we need to tax it in a massive way to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions." ...

[Q:]Do you believe global warming is primarily man-made?

I'm a skeptic. I'm not a scientist. I think the science has been politicized. I would be very wary of hollowing out our industrial base even further... It may be only partially man-made. It may not be warming by the way. The last six years we've actually had mean temperatures that are cooler. I think we need to be very cautious before we dramatically alter who we are as a nation because of it. [my emphasis in italics]
Media Matters has been addressing this particular talking point of the climate change deniers highlighted in bold, e.g., Media promote claims of global cooling despite overwhelming consensus to the contrary 03/30/09.

The global-warming-denial scam uses a similar approach to the industry-friendly Tobacco Institute, which presents research findings on the health effects of tobacco whose only purpose is to create an impression that the scientific/medical consensus on the matter is somehow "in dispute". Creationists use a similar method in opposing the entire concept of evolution, the existence of which is not in scientific dispute. But by raising pseudoscientific objections to it, the creationists try to leave the impression that a scientific controversy is there which doesn't exist. And this creation of phony controversies is accompanied by a denigration of science, framed as opposition to "dogmatic" science that defends elitist notions like evolution in some kind of more-or-less conspiratorial attempt to bamboozle the regular folks.

Our next Republican President Jeb plays directly to that brand of Republican Know-Nothingism in his comment, "I'm a skeptic. I'm not a scientist." The contrast between "scientist" and "skeptic" is a classic example of conservative up-is-down thinking. And also of the Christian fundamentalist outlook, which has always been obsessed with pitching their arguments against science in pseudoscientific terms and claiming that it's science and scientists who are the dogmatists taking things on blind faith, not their own form of the Christian faith and its practitioners .

This kind of pitch has a lot of appeal for the Republican base. And it's the kind of thing that our sad excuse for a national press can be persuaded represents plain-spokenness and a downhome touch. Time recently ran an article about Sarah Palin that shows how easily our press can turn their currently-prevailing Palin-is-a-dummy narrative into Palin-speaks-the-language-of-the-ordinary-people narrative. In fact, this Time piece adopts the latter approach and is downright adoring in tone. Their praise of Palin's Know-Nothingism could also apply to the type that Our next Republican President Jeb uses in his Esquire interview.

The Outsider: Where Is Sarah Palin Going Next? by David Von Drehle and Jay Newton-Small Time Online 07/09/09:

... Palin's unconventional step [announcing she will step down from the Alaska governorship] speaks to an ingrained frontier skepticism of authority — even one's own. Given the plunging credibility of institutions and élites, that's a mood that fits the Palin brand. Résumés ain't what they used to be; they count only with people who trust credentials — a dwindling breed. The mathematics Ph.D.s who dreamed up economy-killing derivatives have pretty impressive résumés. The leaders of congressional committees and executive agencies have decades of experience — at wallowing in red ink, mismanaging economic bubbles and botching covert intelligence.

If ever there has been a time to gamble on a flimsy résumé, ever a time for the ultimate outsider, this might be it. "We have so little trust in the character of the people we elected that most of us wouldn't invite them into our homes for dinner, let alone leave our children alone in their care," writes talk-show host Glenn Beck in his book Glenn Beck's Common Sense, a pox-on-all-their-houses fusillade at Washington. Dashed off in a fever of disillusionment with those in power, Beck's book is selling like vampire lit, with more than 1 million copies in print. [my emphasis]
I don't know exactly how Beck's book has been sold. But it's not unusual for the wingnut-welfare system of Republican foundations and think tanks to boost the early sales of favored conservative books by placing large initial orders and using the books as gifts, or returning some of them later to be remaindered. Also, can even Time reporters imagine that Beck's highly partisan, rightwing Republican schtick is a "pox-on-all-their-houses" posture?

But he also does his "compassionate conservative" feint to praise the value of expertise in the context of foreign policy:

I think it's okay to have a deeper understanding of things. I think it's okay to talk in three-syllable words. The world we're living in is incredibly complex. And simplifying things to the point where you're misunderstanding where we are as a nation isn't going to help people overcome their fears or give them hope that they can achieve great things. I don't get inspired by shameless populism.
Palin hits similar themes to those of our next Republican President Jeb; from the Time article:

Outside her family's Dillingham smokehouse, Palin lays out a robust indictment of the Obama agenda. "President Obama is growing government outrageously, and it's immoral and it's uneconomic," she says. "The debt that our nation is incurring, trillions of dollars that we're passing on to our kids, expecting them to pay off for us, is immoral and doesn't even make economic sense. So his growth-of-government agenda needs to be ratcheted back, and it's going to take good people who have the guts to stand up to him."

She continues. The cap-and-trade energy plan "is going to drive the cost of consumer goods and the cost of energy so extremely high." Democratic health-care proposals, she says, look increasingly like the ideas that McCain proposed during the campaign. [This characterization by the writers doesn't seem to reflect the Palin quote that immediately follows.] "One thing reporters aren't asking the Administration is — it's such a simple question, and people around here in the real world, outside of Washington, D.C., want reporters to ask — President Obama, how are you going to pay for this one- or two- or three-trillion-dollar health-care plan? How are you going to pay off the stimulus package, those borrowed dollars? How are you going to pay for so many things that you are proposing and you are implementing? Americans deserve to know."
Our next Republican President Jeb would apparently like to continue his brother's work in attempting to abolish Social Security and Medicare:

It was, to the extent that my brother was unable to get the Congress to go along with meaningful entitlement reform, although he tried, which by the way the Republicans were not supportive of. It was because we fought a war, and we had to build a homeland-defense structure that didn't exist. But I think my brother gets a bad rap about the general idea that there were massive amounts of spending beyond those two things.
National security, in his view, is endangered by Medicare:

The interest on the debt, and Medicare alone, will weaken our country to the point where we're not going to have the same influence that we need to have, or should have, or want to have in the world.
And in case anyone thinks that the Catholic former Governor of Florida is going to be less Chrisitianist than his brother as President, he spells out how the Republican Party has to deal with its sins. No, not the torture program, not unjust war, not the Katrina disaster, not reckless disregard of the needs of our citizens, but the sin of losing the 2008 election to the Democrats:

In this interim period, we have to pay for our sins and show some humility.

[Q:] What are those sins?
We didn't advocate our positions well enough to win.

We're all sinners under God's watchful eye. There's a road to redemption. But the road to redemption requires some humility and some patience. To campaign on these ideas is a good way to do it. It's not about a person's ambition. It's about the power of these ideas. And they need to be developed thoughtfully, with the input of a whole lot of people and the advice of a whole lot of people. It doesn't have to be in Washington. It can grow organically... I'm going to be involved as best I can.
A glimpse at the future envisioned for us by our next Republican President Jeb Bush.

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