Late last year, much of the political press was unimpressed with a series of book events Hillary Clinton hosted, prompting chatter that in the years since her last campaign, the Democrats may have lost many of her political skills. Campaign analyst Charlie Cook, comparing her to a baseball pitcher past his or her prime, said Clinton may have “lost her fastball.”
Around the same time, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said of Clinton, “She’s not really good at politics.”
Six months later, we’re hearing very similar rhetoric, but it’s not directed at the former Secretary of State. Rather, it’s Jeb Bush whose ineptitude has raised questions about his competence as a national candidate. BuzzFeed reported on Friday, “In interviews with more than half a dozen Republican foreign policy hands and veterans of the George W. Bush administration, the reaction to Jeb’s dithering on Iraq ranged from disappointment to disbelief.”
Politico added that “many” Bush supporters “are getting jittery because he appeared ill-equipped to appreciate and manage the demands of the modern-day, 24-hour news cycle.”
There’s some evidence, however, that the former Florida governor believes he can get back on track by shifting his focus to the culture war. Drew Katchen reported for msnbc over the weekend on Bush suddenly stressing his opposition to marriage equality.
Speaking during an interview with The Brody File on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Bush, whom BuzzFeed dubbed “2016’s Gay-Friendly Republican,’ called traditional marriage ‘a sacrament.’“To imagine how we are going to succeed in our country unless we have committed family life, a child-centered family system is hard to imagine,” he told David Brody. “So, irrespective of the Supreme Court ruling … because they are going to decide whatever they decide, I don’t know what they are going to do, we need to be stalwart supporters of traditional marriage.”
For context, the Christian Broadcasting Network was created by right-wing TV preacher Pat Robertson, whose “700 Club” program still airs on the channel.
Also note, earlier this year, Bush went out of his way to at least appear moderate on marriage rights, emphasizing his belief that this should be a “state issue,” and stressing his intention to “show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue – including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections.”
When the Florida Republican talked to Pat Robertson’s CBN, he didn’t mention any of this.
In the same interview, Bush suggested “traditional marriage” would help children escape poverty. “If we want to create a right-to-rise society, where people – particularly children born in poverty, if we want to have them have a chance – we have to restore committed, loving family life with a mom and dad loving their children with their heart and soul,” he said.
Bush didn’t elaborate on what he thinks might happen to those enjoying a committed, loving family life with two moms or two dads loving their children with their heart and soul.
And in case all of this wasn’t quite enough, let’s not overlook the fact that Bush also re-endorsed business owners discriminating against consumers: “ ‘Yes, absolutely, if it’s based on a religious belief,’ he said when asked … if businesses should be able to decline services to same-sex weddings.”
For all the assumptions about the Republican mainstream looking past divisive social issues, note exactly where Jeb Bush went when his campaign started feeling antsy about foreign policy.