Lost in the Bushes
"I love my father and my brother … But I am my own man –- and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences."
-- Jeb Bush (R-FL), speaking to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs
This is one of those times when you just oh-so wish there was someone in the audience who would have raised his or her hand and asked, "That's just great to hear, Mr. Bush. Could you please explain in what ways they're different?"
And perhaps another hand reaching for attention, and the person asking, "I am so comforted to hear that. Would you please tell us in what ways you disagree with how your brother handled the 9/11 attacks and Afghan and Iraq Wars?"
Jeb Bush says that his views are shaped by his own experiences. And I actually believe him. The thing is -- his experiences are largely shaped by his father and brother. Not all of them, no. And I, in fact, think far more of him than I did of his older brother. That doesn't mean I think highly of him, just higher of him than George W. But for anyone to think that his life and political career and most-especially his non-existent foreign policy experience is shaped by anything other than his father and brother, you aren't thinking very hard.
At that same event of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Jeb Bush released his list for foreign policy advisers. There were 21 of them. Impressive. And of those 21...19 have connections with either his father, his brother or both.
Only two people out of the 21 on Jeb Bush's list had no direct connection to either George H.W. Bush or George Bush -- Lincoln Diaz-Balart and George Schultz. And Mr. Schultz had been Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan...when George H.W. Bush was Vice President. So, in other words, there's just one person on Jeb Bush's list who has no close connection with his father or brother.
The Washington Post put together a Venn diagram to show the overlap of connections.
To be fair, in any political party there's likely going to be an overlap of policy experts from one administration to the next. But that hardly means that the connections are going to be nearly unanimous. But the thing is, that's not the point.
The point is -- it's understandable that there are so many overlaps. But Jeb Bush just got up in front of everyone and proclaimed to the world...that there aren't. That he's his own man. That his views are shaped by experiences different from both his father and his brother.
And some are.
And as he just showed the world -- a whole lot aren't. And in fact, in the one area where he almost no experience, his views are shaped almost entirely by those of his father and his brother.
So, Jeb Bush has to make up his mind, which way is it? Are his views shaped by his own experiences, like he says -- or shaped by the experiences of his father and brother, as he shows.
And if his views are different, most especially in foreign affairs, I would just dearly love to hear how?
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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