The End of the Bush Era

After Jeb’s emotional withdrawal from his quest for the Republican presidential nomination, the spavined Bush political dynasty, now quite officially, belongs to history. 

The family’s run can be said to have lasted thirty-five years, from the senior Bush’s unsuccessful 1980 pursuit of the Republican presidential nomination (as the GOP establishment’s candidate against the unelectable Ronald Reagan) until the results of the South Carolina primary rolled in.  During this time one of three Bush family members was always at the center of American political life, either as the occupant of the White House, or as every Republican consultant’s sure prediction to become its next.

No more. Two members of this gracious patrician clan -- both abundantly endowed with personal virtue but painfully lacking in verbal skill or instinct for political combat -- more than sufficed.

The domestic political incompetence of the senior Bush spawned the Clinton tumor.  This malignancy has persisted for twenty-four years and threatens to continue metastasizing in the body politic for another eight.  Then the junior Bush, through bad judgment, poor communication, and -- for the last four years of his presidency -- mute passivity, delivered the nation to its worst president in history. The full scope of that damage cannot yet be measured.

No small wonder, after this collective performance, that America’s Republican and conservative voters not so politely asked the third would be dynastic representative to find other work.

To take the harsh spotlight off Jeb at his family’s next gathering, it needs to be said that the deficiencies and failures of his father and brother contributed at least as much to his rejection as did his own self-inflicted wounds. Though it must be conceded,  beginning a campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2015 by declaring, in effect, that 85% of Republican voters are ignorant and wrong on the issue of illegal immigration has to be among the most defiantly arrogant political blunders in major party history.

There’s little pleasure in the Bush Family’s political demise, because in reflecting on its era there’s no escaping the conclusion that the Left’s assault on traditional American government and culture surged on all fronts during the entirety of it.

The Bush family presidencies covered twelve years since President Reagan left office in 1989, and today the federal government is immensely more intrusive and oppressive than at any time in the country’s history, freedom of expression is under serious assault, America is undergoing a massive, enduring and unresisted invasion by third world rent seekers and future Democratic voters, and all the key cultural institutions -- public schools, universities, mass media and popular culture -- are locked in the Left’s suffocating embrace.

After the glorious economic, foreign policy and coalition building accomplishments of the Reagan presidency, the Bush family leaves a painful legacy.

During the twenty-eight years since the last day of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the coalition Reagan built needed Republican Presidents who understood the nature of the Left’s assault and possessed abundantly a talent for persuasive language and a zest and skill for political combat. 

Instead, the Bush family aggressively supplied three tongue-tied but well-mannered gentlemen with no enemies at the club.

Their privileged and sheltered private lives, like those of the entire American elite, insulated them from direct contact with the consequences of the Left’s assault -- a phenomenon to which all three seemed oblivious.

It would be unfair to suggest that the enormous cultural forces driving American social dissolution since the mid-60’s could have been halted by more articulate and forceful Republican presidents. But it’s also difficult to believe that more eloquent and energetic Republican chief executives could not have prevented at least some of the catastrophic domestic political and cultural circumstances we face today.

Think of the incalculably positive influence on constitutional law of the great Antonin Scalia, and try to imagine what Republican Presidents with a fraction of Scalia’s gifts might have achieved.

Some tendentious history:

In 1988 Bush senior was handed a political royal flush by Ronald Reagan, whose tax and economic policies and robust defense buildup had lifted both the American economy and psyche out of its decade-long post-Vietnam malaise.  After the election of 1988 Bush senior looked at that hand and -- OMG -- discarded the ace, his unqualified pledge not to raise taxes. That pledge had been the centerpiece of his campaign. Breaking it was an act of staggering political stupidity. Did the courtly Bush senior believe that the Democrats wouldn’t be so ungentlemanly as to take advantage of his breach of faith? In the event, of course, they did take advantage, the magnificent Reagan coalition fractured, and G.H.W. Bush lost his 1992 reelection bid to an obscure, scandal-plagued, small state governor who got a whopping 43% of the vote.

And this, it is said, was the more successful of the two Bush Presidents.

After his narrow reelection in 2004 the junior Bush seemed to lose what little taste for battle he had exhibited during his first term.  During his last four years he ignored -- utterly failed to respond to -- the unceasing vitriolic attacks on him and his policies that surfeited the nation.  And he undermined his support among large numbers of his own voters by the ill-advised Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Meirs and his hugely unpopular amnesty proposal, both derailed by Republican/conservative uprisings. 

When the junior Bush left office, between his own supporters’ disenchantment and the damage he had suffered among the great middle through non-stop unanswered attacks, his approval ratings were at record lows. We know the rest.

But almost worse than their concrete political and policy failures that gave birth to leftist presidencies, neither Bush president seemed aware of or interested in the fact that the country’s principal cultural institutions were steadily slipping into the Left’s grasp, an unresisted third world invasion was diminishing the electoral viability of their own party, and intensifying political correctness was sharply diminishing allowable discussion of a host of social problems.

In short, neither ever seemed interested in or capable of participating in the ongoing war for the soul of America -- a war in which the Left has been the consistent aggressor since 1965 and that had reached dangerous levels of success as early as Bush senior’s single term in 1989. 

All three -- father, son and brother -- possess character, decency and integrity in abundance.

But in background, personal traits, and instincts all were ill fitted to lead traditional America’s defense during the bitterly embattled era of their dynastic run.

After the battle of Shiloh, where Union losses had been horrific, severe criticisms of General Grant reached President Lincoln’s ears. Lincoln already knew of Grant’s personal failings, in manners, business ventures and resistance to strong drink. Always to the point, Lincoln said simply, “I can’t spare this man. He fights.”

If the apparently still confused GOP elite wants to understand why the Bush era ended and this election has taken its astonishing course, it would do well to reflect on Lincoln’s words.

After Jeb’s emotional withdrawal from his quest for the Republican presidential nomination, the spavined Bush political dynasty, now quite officially, belongs to history. 

The family’s run can be said to have lasted thirty-five years, from the senior Bush’s unsuccessful 1980 pursuit of the Republican presidential nomination (as the GOP establishment’s candidate against the unelectable Ronald Reagan) until the results of the South Carolina primary rolled in.  During this time one of three Bush family members was always at the center of American political life, either as the occupant of the White House, or as every Republican consultant’s sure prediction to become its next.

No more. Two members of this gracious patrician clan -- both abundantly endowed with personal virtue but painfully lacking in verbal skill or instinct for political combat -- more than sufficed.

The domestic political incompetence of the senior Bush spawned the Clinton tumor.  This malignancy has persisted for twenty-four years and threatens to continue metastasizing in the body politic for another eight.  Then the junior Bush, through bad judgment, poor communication, and -- for the last four years of his presidency -- mute passivity, delivered the nation to its worst president in history. The full scope of that damage cannot yet be measured.

No small wonder, after this collective performance, that America’s Republican and conservative voters not so politely asked the third would be dynastic representative to find other work.

To take the harsh spotlight off Jeb at his family’s next gathering, it needs to be said that the deficiencies and failures of his father and brother contributed at least as much to his rejection as did his own self-inflicted wounds. Though it must be conceded,  beginning a campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2015 by declaring, in effect, that 85% of Republican voters are ignorant and wrong on the issue of illegal immigration has to be among the most defiantly arrogant political blunders in major party history.

There’s little pleasure in the Bush Family’s political demise, because in reflecting on its era there’s no escaping the conclusion that the Left’s assault on traditional American government and culture surged on all fronts during the entirety of it.

The Bush family presidencies covered twelve years since President Reagan left office in 1989, and today the federal government is immensely more intrusive and oppressive than at any time in the country’s history, freedom of expression is under serious assault, America is undergoing a massive, enduring and unresisted invasion by third world rent seekers and future Democratic voters, and all the key cultural institutions -- public schools, universities, mass media and popular culture -- are locked in the Left’s suffocating embrace.

After the glorious economic, foreign policy and coalition building accomplishments of the Reagan presidency, the Bush family leaves a painful legacy.

During the twenty-eight years since the last day of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the coalition Reagan built needed Republican Presidents who understood the nature of the Left’s assault and possessed abundantly a talent for persuasive language and a zest and skill for political combat. 

Instead, the Bush family aggressively supplied three tongue-tied but well-mannered gentlemen with no enemies at the club.

Their privileged and sheltered private lives, like those of the entire American elite, insulated them from direct contact with the consequences of the Left’s assault -- a phenomenon to which all three seemed oblivious.

It would be unfair to suggest that the enormous cultural forces driving American social dissolution since the mid-60’s could have been halted by more articulate and forceful Republican presidents. But it’s also difficult to believe that more eloquent and energetic Republican chief executives could not have prevented at least some of the catastrophic domestic political and cultural circumstances we face today.

Think of the incalculably positive influence on constitutional law of the great Antonin Scalia, and try to imagine what Republican Presidents with a fraction of Scalia’s gifts might have achieved.

Some tendentious history:

In 1988 Bush senior was handed a political royal flush by Ronald Reagan, whose tax and economic policies and robust defense buildup had lifted both the American economy and psyche out of its decade-long post-Vietnam malaise.  After the election of 1988 Bush senior looked at that hand and -- OMG -- discarded the ace, his unqualified pledge not to raise taxes. That pledge had been the centerpiece of his campaign. Breaking it was an act of staggering political stupidity. Did the courtly Bush senior believe that the Democrats wouldn’t be so ungentlemanly as to take advantage of his breach of faith? In the event, of course, they did take advantage, the magnificent Reagan coalition fractured, and G.H.W. Bush lost his 1992 reelection bid to an obscure, scandal-plagued, small state governor who got a whopping 43% of the vote.

And this, it is said, was the more successful of the two Bush Presidents.

After his narrow reelection in 2004 the junior Bush seemed to lose what little taste for battle he had exhibited during his first term.  During his last four years he ignored -- utterly failed to respond to -- the unceasing vitriolic attacks on him and his policies that surfeited the nation.  And he undermined his support among large numbers of his own voters by the ill-advised Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Meirs and his hugely unpopular amnesty proposal, both derailed by Republican/conservative uprisings. 

When the junior Bush left office, between his own supporters’ disenchantment and the damage he had suffered among the great middle through non-stop unanswered attacks, his approval ratings were at record lows. We know the rest.

But almost worse than their concrete political and policy failures that gave birth to leftist presidencies, neither Bush president seemed aware of or interested in the fact that the country’s principal cultural institutions were steadily slipping into the Left’s grasp, an unresisted third world invasion was diminishing the electoral viability of their own party, and intensifying political correctness was sharply diminishing allowable discussion of a host of social problems.

In short, neither ever seemed interested in or capable of participating in the ongoing war for the soul of America -- a war in which the Left has been the consistent aggressor since 1965 and that had reached dangerous levels of success as early as Bush senior’s single term in 1989. 

All three -- father, son and brother -- possess character, decency and integrity in abundance.

But in background, personal traits, and instincts all were ill fitted to lead traditional America’s defense during the bitterly embattled era of their dynastic run.

After the battle of Shiloh, where Union losses had been horrific, severe criticisms of General Grant reached President Lincoln’s ears. Lincoln already knew of Grant’s personal failings, in manners, business ventures and resistance to strong drink. Always to the point, Lincoln said simply, “I can’t spare this man. He fights.”

If the apparently still confused GOP elite wants to understand why the Bush era ended and this election has taken its astonishing course, it would do well to reflect on Lincoln’s words.