Jeb Bush is well aware of the forces pulling him — and his Republican Party — in two directions.
On the one hand, many hope the former two-term governor of Florida runs for president in 2016. He is possessed of one of the best-known names in politics. He is a still-popular figure in a key swing state. He is someone the party might be able to unite behind early in the process, avoiding months of infighting that could hand the White House to a Democratic Party that already seems lined up to support Hillary Clinton.
On the other hand, a lot of people are tired of both the Clinton and the Bush name on their ballots.
Barbara Bush, Jeb’s mother, was one of them a few months ago, saying, "We’ve had enough Bushes," in the White House. Though she is said to have retreated on that a bit, calling her elder son "The most qualified person in the country."
Over the weekend, Jeb seemed to double dog dare his party to decide whether it really wants him to run by stating positions that are not new to him, but considered anathema to the ruling tea party wing of the Republican Party.
At a town hall meeting Sunday, deep in the heart of his family’s political base, Texas, Bush reiterated his support for the controversial Common Core set of education reform standards.
Even more powerful was Bush’s position on immigration. While many of the bright lights in his party are winning applause, and lots of TV time, berating all serious attempts at immigration reform as "amnesty," Bush takes a much more humane approach.
"Yes, they broke the law," he said, referring to the upwards of 11 million people who now live and work in the United States without benefit of legal documentation, "but it’s not a felony; it’s an act of love."
Bush said there should be penalties paid by those who arrived illegally or overstayed their visas, but that it is hardly in the best American spirit to be cruel to people who, like generations of Americans before them, just want a better life.
"It shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to provide for their families."
Of course, a lot of people are riled by that. That’s why Republicans in the House, including those from Utah, continue to block a Senate-passed reform bill that, were it brought to a vote, would likely win the votes of nearly all Democrats and just enough Republicans to pass.
But Bush’s stand on this issue is the correct one. If he can bring along the rest of his party, he will have accomplished something grand. Whether he gets elected president or not.
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