Last year, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) published a book on immigration reform, ostensibly one of the subjects he understands best. It didn't go well.
As readers may recall, Bush started 2013 endorsing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Six weeks later, he took the opposite position. A few days later, he went back to his original position again. The Florida Republican eventually said he was thrown off by his publishing deadline, before telling msnbc, "I'm not smart enough to figure out every aspect of a really complex law."
Yesterday, Jeb returned to the subject, this time complaining about President Obama.
Bush, the son of one president and brother of another, also reiterated his support for a pathway to legal status for immigrants in the U.S. illegally, but said Obama may have exceeded his constitutional authority by unilaterally lifting the threat of deportation from millions of such immigrants last month."The idea that, well, Reagan did it, my dad did it -- they did it on a much smaller scale and they did it with consent of Congress. There are a lot of differences," Bush said Monday night at the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council, an invitation-only event in Washington featuring some of the nation's most powerful CEOs.
Bush may have been speaking to his base, which was unlikely to challenge his assertions, but the former governor's argument doesn't stand up well to scrutiny. Indeed, he seems to be getting all of the key details wrong.
For one thing, when Reagan and H.W. Bush acted on immigration, they didn't do it with Congress' consent -- they took executive action first and waited for Congress to act later. In Reagan's case, he moved forward on his policy shortly after legislation failed.
As for Jeb Bush's concerns about "scale," whether he realizes it or not, Obama's policy is, as Rachel recently explained on the show, "roughly on the same scale" as his father's policy.
In other words, a year after Jeb Bush appeared to have no idea what he was talking about on immigration policy -- one of his signature issues -- the Florida Republican has been tripped up once again by an issue he cares so much about, he literally wrote a book about it.
Meanwhile, Bush isn't just annoying those who see Obama's policy as worthwhile; he's also poised to irritate his party's base. Greg Sargent flagged this report in which the former governor apparently wants Republicans to take the president's advice and try legislating.
At a private luncheon Monday on Capitol Hill, former Florida governor Jeb Bush told a group of GOP officials and donors, including soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, that the party should avoid a standoff.Instead, Bush said in brief remarks, Republicans should pass a series of "sensible" immigration bills next year once they control both congressional chambers to underscore their commitment to governing and reforming the immigration system with their own policies.
That's not bad advice, though it's pretty much the opposite of what the far-right wants and expects from GOP lawmakers in the next Congress.
If the former governor moves forward with his rumored presidential plans, the reaction from conservative activists -- many of whom have come to define themselves by their opposition to immigration -- is bound to be interesting.