Not that Bush Republicanism was much in evidence as a going concern well before Tuesday, but now it’s definitively dead. All that’s left are the occasional spasms as the neurons of the corpse cook off.
What are we talking about? George P. Bush, the last of that family’s politicians still hanging around and seeking political power, took a beating in the Texas GOP primary for Attorney General.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, facing multiple scandals but very popular with conservatives for his legal crusades against President Biden’s administration, walloped challenger George P. Bush by a more than two-to-one margin in the GOP primary runoff election Tuesday.
Bush, who was the last elected member of his family’s political dynasty – which over four generations has produced two presidents, a vice president, a senator, two governors and a congressman – was long viewed as a rising star in the GOP and was elected and re-elected to the statewide office of Texas land commissioner. He acknowledged in a statement Tuesday night that “things didn’t go as we planned.”
And in the wake of his defeat, Bush’s political future and the survival of his family’s brand are very much in doubt.
“History has shown there can be second acts in American politics, so I wouldn’t say never. But I think that he is politically greatly diminished from the results last night,” longtime Texas based GOP strategist Brendan Steinhauser told Fox News.
And he predicted that in the short term “I think it’s more likely he goes into the private sector.”
Matt Mackowiak, a veteran Austin, Texas-based Republican consultant and chair of Travis County GOP, said, “You can never count out anyone who can raise money, but George P. Bush’s political future is uncertain. I expect him to finish his term and return to private business as he considers his future. It’s not clear when another Bush family member will win elected office.”
Mackowiak is right, of course, in that you never know when an opportunity might arise for GPB to insert himself into a position of power. There are special elections, there are races where the party can’t find a good candidate and he could jump in. Saying definitively that he’s done for good is unwise.
But given that Paxton’s star is a bit tarnished lately due to the “multiple scandals,” which we’ll pass on discussing the true weight of (though this latest business of the state bar attacking him for filing the lawsuit over the corruption of the 2020 presidential election is breathtakingly ridiculous), you would have thought Bush might have made a better showing than this…
Paxton is well-liked among Texas Republicans because, “scandal” or not, he’s known as a fighter. He’s on board with all of the same lawsuits fighting leftist federal overreach that other GOP attorneys general – like Jeff Landry in Louisiana, Eric Schmitt in Missouri, Ashley Moody in Florida and Austin Knudsen in Montana – have been joining forces to bring. It’s an unsung campaign which has scored a huge number of victories and made life a whole lot more tolerable in America than it otherwise would have been given the malign nanny-state bent of the Biden administration and its congressional allies.
Texas Republicans see that and don’t really care about whatever “scandals” might be on offer with Paxton. They want an attorney general who’ll use his power to keep them free.
And that’s where George P. Bush, who honestly is himself not a particular practitioner of Bush Republicanism, was pretty misguided in taking on the AG race.
GPB was a Trump backer. He was a Marco Rubio backer in Florida in 2010 when his father Jeb Bush was still mostly on the Charlie Crist bandwagon. He’s said most of the right things.
None of that matters, though. Republicans have moved on. And while that Bush family name used to be a winner in itself, it’s a millstone around the neck of a candidate for major office, even in Texas, now.
This would be a good thing even were it not for the damage Bush Republicanism has done to the party. Political dynasties are a terrible, corrupting thing and it’s always good to see them dissipate. We are not a society built on nobility or royalty, regardless of our lazy media’s constant attempts to foist that status on celebrities in whatever field. And experience tells us that stored political power always spoils.
But it’s doubly true given the poor Bush legacy.
Again, without blaming GPB in his own right here, he’s the inheritor of a political brand all the hallmarks of which are abysmal.
What is/was Bush Republicanism?
Well, it’s the fomenting of foreign wars with little or no relation to America’s national interest. You got to see the denouement of that practice in a gaffe GPB’s uncle unleashed a few days ago…
We don’t need a big exposition of what those adventures did for our country.
It’s the treasonous cozying with China. The four-president continuum of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama sold out this country’s manufacturing and trade policy to the Communist Chinese and set the stage for America’s decline as a world superpower, but the Bush family did fabulously well out of that sellout.
Go ahead and research what Neil Bush has been up to since getting himself caught up in the savings and loan scandal back in the 1990’s. It’s not great. But that’s what a political dynasty will buy you.
But what Bush Republicanism is best known for is the utter and total contempt for its own voters.
Remember when Bush 41 gave his 1988 Republican Convention speech in New Orleans? He was calling for America to be a “kinder, gentler nation.” America under Ronald Reagan was just about the kindest, gentlest, strongest, most charitable nation in the history of the world. We were only months away from winning the Cold War and taking down the most evil empire they world had ever seen, the Soviet Union, more or less without firing a shot. But that wasn’t good enough for Bush, who rode that “kinder, gentler” bullshit into office and promptly took us into a war with Iraq, a country we had no particular interest in fighting.
The first Gulf War was a military triumph for the ages, but Bush refused to finish off Saddam Hussein. He baited-and-switched the Kurds and the marsh Arabs in the south of that country, recruiting them to rise up against Hussein and then abandoning them when their insurrections brought what was left of the Iraqi military down on their heads.
That sure was kind and gentle, wasn’t it? Bush then traded away his promise to his voters that he wouldn’t raise taxes in a stupid deal with Democrats in Congress, which occasioned Ross Perot’s third-party run and opened the door to Bill Clinton’s presidency.
The thing was that Ronald Reagan had set the template and built the political conditions for a generation of conservative Republican rule. The New Deal/post-war political era, with its vast welfare and regulatory state, military-industrial complex, socialized medicine and nonstop racial agitation for profit and power, could have been swept out and replaced with something better.
But Bush Republicanism didn’t want that. It wanted to keep the failed status quo of that era. So it slandered Reaganism and dragged us back from the new era which could have been. We got Clinton and his scandals, and a vast expansion of the scope of government coupled with lies claiming the “era of big government is over.”
George W. Bush didn’t roll back anything Clinton did. After 9/11 – which was Bush’s fault as much as Clinton’s, as he had more than six months in office to do something about Al Qaeda and its network here, but didn’t – he partnered with Democrats in Congress to create a gargantuan new federal bureaucracy we did not need, and now the Department of Homeland Security is busily attempting to hatch a Ministry of Truth it’s calling a “disinformation board” – co-chaired now, amazingly, by Michael Chertoff and Jamie Gorelick.
Not to mention Bush built the surveillance state that the Obama administration weaponized against Americans and particularly Donald Trump. There was your “compassionate conservatism” of Bush 43.
No political party in American history has treated its own supporters worse than the GOP under the control of the Bush family. No political operation has done more damage to its party’s brand than the Bushes – with the possible exception of the Biden crime machine currently in power, if you project things out to 2024.
GPB losing, and presumably becoming politically irrelevant, will end one of the most discouraging eras in American political history. The tragedy in Uvalde Tuesday obscured it, but the end of the Bush dynasty is worth recognizing.
No offense, George P., but good riddance. Serve out your term as land commissioner and find a new line of work.