In a headline today, The Washington Post posed the question, “Can Jeb Bush win the GOP nomination . . . by praising President Obama?”
Here’s what they’re referring to:
Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush supports President Obama’s trade deal, praises his management of the National Security Agency and agrees that Congress should have moved faster to hold a vote on new attorney general Loretta Lynch.
And that’s all since last week.
It’s an unusual approach for Bush to take in seeking the nomination of a conservative party that mostly loathes the current president. The former Florida governor has gone out of his way at times to chime in on issues where he agrees with Obama — bolstering his attempt to be a softer-toned kind of Republican focused on winning a majority of the vote in a general election.
But the strategy also carries grave risks for a likely candidate who is already viewed with deep suspicion by conservatives, many of whom have little desire to find common ground with Democrats. Tea party leaders are already warning that Bush, the son and brother of former presidents, is alienating conservatives….
There’s a flaw in the headline. He’s not praising the president. What he’s doing is addressing issues according to their merits, not according to who favors or opposes them.
Which means he’s thinking and acting like a grownup, rather than like a choleric child.
Too many in both parties, and particularly in the Tea Party fringe of the GOP, demand that candidates speak and act childishly. And if they don’t get what they demand, they throw tantrums.
In the GOP, those people call themselves “conservatives.” They are anything but. In this situation, Bush is the conservative, the person speaking thoughtfully and carefully about issues, with respect for the political institutions we have inherited from our forebears, rather than engaging in a competition to see who can denounce the other side more vehemently.