Quotes of the day

posted at 10:41 pm on June 11, 2012 by Allahpundit

“Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my dad — they would have a hard time if you define the Republican party — and I don’t — as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement, doesn’t allow for finding some common ground,” Bush said, adding that he views the hyper-partisan moment as “temporary.”

“Back to my dad’s time and Ronald Reagan’s time – they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan suport,” he said. Reagan “would be criticized for doing the things that he did.”

Bush called the present partisan climate “disturbing.”

“It’s just a different environment left and right,” he said of “this dysfunction.”

***

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, in a break with his party, said he could support tax increases to help reduce the federal government’s budget deficit…

“If you could bring to me a majority of people to say that we’re going to have $10 in spending cuts for $1 of revenue enhancement — put me in, coach,” Bush told the House Budget Committee. “This will prove I’m not running for anything,” he said, prompting laughter from lawmakers and the audience…

Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, declined to comment on Bush’s remarks.

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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said he supports both a path to citizenship or legal residency for the more than 11 million people living in the United States illegally.

“You have to deal with this issue. You can’t ignore it, and so either a path to citizenship, which I would support–and that does put me probably out of the mainstream of most conservatives–or … a path… to residency of some kind,” he said during an interview last week with Charlie Rose on CBS…

Bush said he agreed with Romney on the need to secure the border and the importance of raising the number of work visas available for high-skilled workers. But he warns that the tone of the immigration debate among Republicans is “shortsighted.”

“It sends a signal,” Bush said. “We want your support, but you can’t join our team.”

***

“I’m not sure what Jeb’s referring to,” Gingrich said on CNN’s “John King, USA.” “We just had a pretty grueling campaign, which had a fair amount of disagreement, a pretty wide range of views from Ron Paul to say Tim Pawlenty.”

He continued: “In that framework, you see us come together as a party. I think there’s plenty of room in the Republican Party for a wide range of candidates.”…

“I would argue in many ways we have a more diverse party today than the Democrats. It’s much easier to be of a different view as a Republican, without having the kind of pressure you would have if you were a pro-life Democrat,” he said.

***

Barack Obama made a similar point back in April, arguing that “[Reagan] could not get through a Republican primary today.”…

But it is also worth asking this: Could liberal icons such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt or John Fitzgerald Kennedy get through a Democratic primary today?

I very much doubt it.

There are some similarities, of course, but the political landscape is very different today than in 1980. The same can be said between now and the 1960s and the 1930s. That fact says less about the modern party than a simple reflection of changes in the country and electoral reality. Taking away any other lesson is a waste of time and energy.

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Both men [Clinton and Jeb Bush], by virtue of their family’s standing in their respective parties, have a nearly un-matched political pulpit from which to express their views. And they’re using it more and more these days.

Both men also seem to see their party drifting away from what’s important. For Clinton, he wants a more close examination of the two sides’ visions for the future rather than a muddy bar fight, and for Bush, he wants his party to work with the other side more on issues like illegal immigration and the budget.

It also just so happens that both could be hurting their parties’ brands heading into the fall election.

Republicans have already used Clinton’s words — with great gusto — against President Obama. And we would expect the same on the GOP side, with Bush’s words being used against Romney and congressional Republicans.

***

To understand what Bush is saying, you need to anticipate how the party might diagnose the causes of a loss in 2012, and then you can see how he is setting himself as the cure. Bush has been publicly urging Republicans to moderate their tone toward Latinos and to embrace immigration reform. Here is the one issue where Republicans, should they lose, will almost surely conclude that they need to moderate their party stance. The Latino vote is both growing in size and seems to be tilting ever more strongly toward the Democrats, a combination that will rapidly make the electoral map virtually unwinnable. Indeed, the body language of the Romney campaign suggests it already regrets the hard-line stances on immigration it adopted during the primary…

If you try to imagine the Republican consensus after a potential losing election, it will look like this. It will recognize that its harsh partisan rhetoric turned off voters, and will urgently want to woo Latinos, while holding on to as much as possible of the party’s domestic policy agenda. And oh, by the way, the party will be casting about for somebody to lead it.

***

Consider the mini-exodus of moderates from the Republican Party, who have ditched the right over a perceived lurch toward Tea Party politics. This has precipitated endless media hand-wringing about the rapid closing of the conservative mind. While there is a certain degree of truth to the charge, it’s a lament not evenly applied (i.e., it’s a partisan complaint). Remember that when the hawkish former Democrat Joe Lieberman, an aggressive supporter of President George W. Bush’s foreign policy, defected from his party, or when Newark Mayor Cory Booker said the Obama campaign’s attacks on private equity “nauseated” him, only to be forced into a humiliating mea culpa, these were not viewed as portents of a closing liberal mind. Likewise, former President Bill Clinton’s recent argument in favor of extended the Bush tax cuts were quickly followed by a groveling apology for breaking party discipline. For Lieberman, it was good riddance to a neoconservative who had long ago forsaken Democratic unity — and the attacks on Booker and Clinton indicated not partisanship, but the necessary correction of an election-season gaffe…

Yes, in times of political tumult, American voters polarize, lining up behind their parties as “yea” and “nay” votes on opposed and irreconcilable ideas about health care policy or deficit reduction or national security. The only way to “heal the partisan divide,” then, is to prevent politicians from taking any remotely controversial positions in the first place. Which is as impossible as it is undesirable.

Because politics is not — despite all clichés to the contrary — about compromise. It’s about making the other guy compromise. And, failing that, it’s about telling any and all who will listen that the country is being torn asunder by boneheaded partisans.

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