Ringside Seat: You Don't Know Jeb

Jeb Bush followed a time-honored tradition Monday morning, one set forth by past generations of sensible politicians contemplating a run for the Republican presidential nomination: He ditched his sane policy views to appeal to the far right. During a Today Show interview previewing his upcoming book,Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution, Bush—the esteemed former Florida governor and older brother to the country's most disastrous president—said immigration reform should not include a path for citizenship.

That's a sharp break from his past views, a full Mitt Romney-style pivot to right-wing ideology. Much like baby bro George W, Jeb has spent years shouting a clarion call that the GOP is on a path toward electoral doom unless they stop alienating Hispanic voters. He penned Wall Street Journal op-eds as recently as January advocating for citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Yet in his new book he writes, "It is absolutely vital to the integrity of our immigration system that actions have consequences—in this case, that those who violated the law can remain but cannot obtain the cherished fruits of citizenship." Anyone searching for the motivation behind this change of heart need only watch the segment of the Today Show interview when Bush hemmed and hawed about his intentions for 2016.

Bush's abrupt shift poses a problem for the GOP writ large. While his brother remains despised by the public, Jeb has maintained the image of likeable, moderate party elder. His independent agitation for citizenship could have helped offer cover for nervous Republicans in Congress.

But one man in particular won't be sleeping easy after Bush's change of heart. Fellow Floridian Marco Rubio has made immigration reform his marque task in the months after the 2012 election. Rubio has gallivanted across the conservative mediasphere selling the base on the need for "rational" reform, even winning plaudits from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Lou Dobbs. While Rubio's desire for a more logical immigration system appears sincere, it is also clearly a calculated strategy to propel Rubio into the leading spot for the party's 2016 nomination. However, the young senator is an acolyte of his former governor. Bush anointed Rubio as his ideological successor when he left the governor's mansion, symbolized in ceremony when Bush bestowed Rubio with the "Sword of Chang." (No kidding; it's a whole 'nother story.) 

The working assumption has been that Rubio will sit out 2016 if Jeb decides to make a go at the nomination. But if Bush continues his new anti-immigrant chest thumping, Rubio will be posed with quite the dilemma: Abandon his his current policies and any hope for a presidential run or betray his political mentor?


So They Say

"The sweat-filled room has now replaced the smoke-filled room."

Senator John Barrasso, always the first person in the Senate gym every morning

Daily Meme: Conservatively Ever After

  • D.C.'s hottest club is Conservative In-Fighting. Everyone who's anyone is doing it. Karl Rove is doing it. Chris Christie is doing it. Wayne LaPierre is doing it. 
  • Governors are mad. Legislators are mad. The base is mad. Why are they mad? Who cares! Isn't it enough to know that hating your party is the new hottest form of grassroots organizing?
  • But ... and we hate to ruin everyone's fun ... doesn't all this anger seem awfully stale? 
  • The Atlantic Wire charted out all the big Republican feuds, and most of the battles have been stewing for months, if not years
  • Frankly, Newt Gingrich fundamentally has the same arguments against the party that he had 20 years ago.
  • The party's depression is old news too. To wit, contrast end-of-2012 Romney to 2013 Romney. Not much difference, eh?
  • All in all, sweating the small stuff seems to be Republicans' preferred way of fending off the inevitable. Telling the same old fairy tales—the ones that Romney thought doomed him in the 2012 primaries—appears to be the only thing keeping the party alive since everyone else seems to be moving away.
  • Republicans at the bottom of the totem pole are tuning out, since all the battles are happening to the right of their political views—or are just insignificant enough to be ignored. Great remodeling strategy!

What We're Writing

  • Jamelle Bouie shows how Virginia will suffer more than most from sequestration.
  • Don't fret about gun owners lambasting gun-control legislation at giant rallies; Steven Yoder says that new state laws like the one in New York are playing a far longer game. 

What We're Reading

  • While the Hill continues bickering over the sequester, real people are being hurt—especially the poor. 
  • Hayley Sweetland Edwards argues that lobbyists, not Congress, are endangering Obama's second-term agenda.
  • Jonathan Chait apologizes for not being more frank about the awfulness of Senator Jeff Sessions.
  • Environmentalists aren't planning to simmer down in the fight against the Keystone XL, despite the State Department's lackluster review of the pipeline's danger to the environment.
  • Jason Zengerle profiles politician, poet (“I could digress and say that … I love your tan lines"), lousy spouse, and congressional candidate Mark Sanford.
  • The New Yorker enters its submission into the growing Aaron Swartz retrospective gallery. 
  • David Carr asks, "Is there anything more painful than watching two badge-wearing citizens of the Beltway trying to engage in normal social discourse?"
  • Edward Luce dryly notes how the nuclear option on the budget seems to have failed, and suggests that an actual nuclear option may be the only way to fight off partisan bickering.
  • Daniel Larison says: Sorry Romney, the problem was never what you believed; the problem was who you were pandering to. 

Poll of the Day

new poll from the University of Texas and Texas Tribune finds that not many Texans have a problem with their freshman senator, Ted Cruz. Even though his extremist rhetoric has drawn plenty of criticism from the media and a public rebuke from John McCain, "He's playing pretty well with the voters he cares about—the conservatives in Texas," Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll, told the Tribune. As for lamestream media coverage, Cruz told a Houston paper, "I think the fact that The New York Times is so hysterical after just a few weeks may perhaps be a sign that we’re doing something right."

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