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Jeb Bush flip-flopping on immigration, now saying he doesn’t support a path toward citizenship for undocumented Americans, is a sign that leading Republicans can be serious about winning the 2016 Republican nomination or they can be serious about winning the general election, but they can’t be serious about both.

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  • Zifnab

    Nonsense. It’s an etch-e-sketch, Erik. You just shake the whole thing up between April and November. The institutional memory of the average American voter is, like, six weeks. Tops.

    Just ask President Romney.

    • Julian

      Let’s hope Romney wasn’t merely off by an additional six weeks.

  • Anon21

    I don’t honestly think that opposition to citizenship (or even wholesale, root-and-branch opposition to immigration reform) is going to hurt a Republican candidate in the general election. Immigration isn’t a top political priority for Hispanic voters, and a Republican who supports immigration reform isn’t likely to do very well among Hispanics.

    • It’s not so much that Republicans are missing the chance to win voters by supporting immigration reform, as that they are riling up opposition by being anti-immigrant.

      Immigration doesn’t poll as high in importance as pocketbook issues among Latinos who are polled about issues, but the Republicans’ anti-immigrant politics transcend policy issues, and go directly to cultural politics. Latinos who don’t think immigration reform is a top-tier issue are still going to have a negative reaction to any politician who appears to be disrespecting Latinos or whipping up fear of a criminal, brown “other.”

      Think about how the virulent immigrant-bashing in 2006 harmed the Republicans among African-American voters. Even though Af-Am voters tend to be against immigration in polls, they tend to be even more against people who bash a minority group and sound like Bull Connor.

      • Malaclypse

        Beyond all that JFL said, there is also the further painting into a corner that being the party of angry, old, straight white men entails.

        • And the fact that conservatives just can’t help themselves when it comes to letting “opposition to illegal immigration” dovetail into “naked racism directed at vaguely brown people.”

          • Jeb goes to a town meeting and articulates a very nuanced, well-developed, soft-focus position on immigration reform, which includes opposition to a pathway to citizenship but is not an exercise in raving at the dusky hordes bringing disease to our clean, respectable country.

            Guy in an NRA hat stands up, delivers a blistering denunciation of “illegals,” and is met by thunderous applause from the attendees.

            Your move, Jeb. Who do you want to piss off?

            • Anonymous

              Classic! I am sure, however, that the GOP is going to try and avoid those audience participation debacles. Someone on that side must understand how horrible they looked to the rest of the country.

              Now whether they *can* avoid those or not, I don’t know. I suppose I hope not…

      • efgoldman

        As usual, California leads the nation. See what happened to the GOBP there after they made immigration a big issue?
        I don’t have the link, but someone posted stats over the weekend that the minority potential voters pool in Texas is going to increase at something like six times the number of white voters over the next couple of cycles.
        Just keep flogging that immigration unicorn, Jebbie.

        • Yes, Romney had former CA governor Pete Wilson the head of his California campaign. For California Latinos, it’s like having Jack the Ripper as your consultant on social issues.

    • Zifnab

      I’d agree, if it weren’t for two things. Firstly, the status quo immigration system is crap. We’ve got a porous border that individual states can’t police, millions of undocumented residents and businesses willing to employ them under the table, and a dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy no one actually likes. Everyone recognizes that fact. So you can’t really be “For” the current system.

      After that, your options are either “militarize the border and institute Arizona-style ‘Papers Please’ legislation” and “liberalize policy and make the immigration bureaucracy cleaner and accommodate more immigrants more quickly”.

      The first policy is wildly popular among hard-core conservatives, but polls terribly among Latinos, because legal residents recognize such a law would inevitably profile them and subject them to police harassment. The second policy is toxic among hard-core conservatives, and polls fairly well among first and second generation Latinos that still travel, have family, or do business in their countries of origin.

      So while Latinos might not see a lot of difference between the status quo and Obama’s reforms, they’re very aware of the difference between the status quo and Republican alternatives. The combination of the two make Democrats’ policies the clear favorite. And its a wonderful wedge issue to splinter off Latinos that don’t immediately see much difference between local politicians.

    • Loud Liberal

      Jeb always does very well among the neo-fascist cuban demographic.

    • JohnT

      “a Republican who supports immigration reform isn’t likely to do very well among Hispanics.”

      This is the point most people seem to miss. Republican’s aren’t likely to ever win more than 50% of the Hispanic vote (no matter how pro-immigration they go), so they really have no incentive to support a path toward citizenship.

  • Jim Lynch

    That’s almost Lincolnesque. Well put.

    Lest We Forget: Terry Schiavo (may she RIP).

  • That don’t make a lick of sense. Jebbie has been a consistent advocate for comprehensive immigration reform essentially forever. If that’s a disqualifier in 2016 (and it sure hasn’t been in three of the past four GOP nominating contests) then he doesn’t have a chance. All this does is convince any potential Hispanic support that he’s not serious.

    • Murc

      Mitt Romney was able to win the nomination using only money, contacts, and name recognition. Policies he had formerly embraced (or repudiated) were changed to reflect whatever his current priority was at the time.

      Why can’t Jeb Bush do the same thing? I mean, 2016 could very well be a repeat of 2012, a primary where it seems like every candidate should be a sure loser, but ONE of them has to win.

      • Sly

        Depends on whose running in the Democratic primary and who the media that conservatives trust say is the front runner (and therefor the most dangerous).

        The dyspeptic fit over Obama among the mouth-breathers who dominated the voting rolls of the 2012 Republican primary will not be as much of a factor in 2016. To the extent that it does play a role, it will likely be within the contest of “Democratic Primary Frontrunner hates children and freedom and Israel, just like Obama….”

        They were willing to forgive a whole lot out of a perceived necessity in 2008 to remove a President they considered illegitimate and a danger to their way of life. Those mouth-breathers will have to be given a shiny new toy to play with in 2016, and if they aren’t satisfied with that toy they’ll probably be less inclined to be as generous as they were to Romney.

        • UberMitch

          The dyspeptic fit over Obama among the mouth-breathers who dominated the voting rolls of the 2012 Republican primary will not be as much of a factor in 2016.

          Unless, of course, the Dem primary is wrapped up quick by Hillary. More Vince Foster!

        • NonyNony

          The dyspeptic fit over Obama among the mouth-breathers who dominated the voting rolls of the 2012 Republican primary will not be as much of a factor in 2016.

          Assuming of course that a Democrat who they don’t hate as much as Obama gets the nomination, rather than a Democrat that they hate just as much as Obama.

          Honestly – if the Democratic candidate is not a straight, white male, the mouthbreathers will throw just as big a fit as they did for Obama. And if the Democratic candidate is a straight, white male the fit will be only slightly smaller.

  • Data Tutashkhia

    Do I understand correctly that the poster believes that winning a national general election is impossible unless the candidate is supporting this “path toward citizenship” thing? Not that I care, but out of curiosity, may I ask: what is the basis for this (seemingly fanciful) opinion?

    • Stag Party Palin

      False dichotomy alert.

    • I think the point is that a Republican can’t win in 2016 without supporting such a pathway.

      Articulating and defending such a position would confirm too many well-established impressions about Republicans.

    • S_noe

      The post was one sentence long – read it a few more times or something.

      I suppose I’m just grumpy, but the “do I understand correctly” shtick makes me want to stick things in things.

  • Major Kong

    Sigh. I was hoping that the name “Bush” would be considered toxic for a few more election cycles.

    • Brandon C.

      I have a feeling this is the case. I can already see the, “Do we really want another one?” Op-Eds. If Jeb ends up being the nominee in 2016 I will be astounded. That’s almost like handing the election to the Dems.

      There just seems to be too much baggage from his brother.

    • Keaaukane

      Come on, what about Neil? Anybody who believes that the Hooker Fairy drops off call girls at his hotel room would probably be a great president.

    • Loud Liberal

      It will be.

  • witless chum

    Perhaps he’s given up on electoral politics, but has ambitions of cashing some wingnut welfare checks?

    • rea

      What, let his ne’er-do-well little brother steal his rightful place in history?

  • Rarely Posts

    In all seriousness: how can Jeb Bush be a serious contender for President? After Bush II, shouldn’t the “Bush” name be a permanent, almost insurmountable drag on any candidate?

    • JoyfulA

      Isn’t that the name of the most prominent Democratic candidate for the first congressional district in South Carolina?

      • FLRealist

        It’s Busch.

        • RhZ

          And that’s local politics. And not the same family.

    • Cody

      Haven’t you read anything Republicans have written in the last 4 years?

      It’s all Obama’s fault. I don’t recall a single wrong thing Bush did…

  • Vice President Jerry Lewis

    That the Bush name isn’t sufficiently tarnished (a la Nixon) to the point where people are floating Jeb for 2016, is a national disgrace.

    • Anonymous

      Well, just because he is exploring his options, and just because some within the GOP (or even many within the GOP) are supporting him does not prove by any means that his name is not sufficiently tarnished nationally.

      I mean, many within the party supported Gingrich, and he had zero chance to win anything.

  • DrDick

    As I said before the election, when the loons lose, they double down on the rightwing crazy.

  • Malaclypse

    This is good news for John McCain.

  • montag

    Jeb actually has a tiny constituency. His family + the Cuban mafia + his family’s friends (let’s not underestimate the influence of the latter category–the Bush family Christmas card list is very, very long–book length–and full of the well-heeled).

    He left a lot of unhappy people in Florida, because of the 2000 election, the cuts to popular services and his propensity to lick the assholes of hard-core evangelicals, and even with his name, doesn’t have a national reputation.

    He’s playing a game here. Initially shitting on the essential elements of immigration reform to gauge the interest of the truly batshit goofy base in his running, and if he does, he’ll start laying on his Mexican wife with a trowel as the promise to Latinos that he’ll push through something meaningful.

    Like all the Bushes, he doesn’t give fuck-all about good policy, he just wants to win, because the Bush family motto is “public service for private gain.” If there’s no way he can win in 2016, he won’t even try.

    Ever since Rove left the White House, he’s been holed up with Baby Brother Bush plotting strategy, and I suspect this recent spate of public appearances by Bush is part of the strategy. Minimal public exposure. Gauge public interest. Selective private polling. If all those go well, he’ll form an exploratory committee.

    If we get rumors that he’s trying to get Tricky Ricky Scott to take on Katherine Harris as Secretary of State, we’ll know he’s in it for sure.

    • Loud Liberal

      Like all the Bushes, he doesn’t give fuck-all about good policy, he just wants to win, because the Bush family motto is “public service for private gain.” If there’s no way he can win in 2016, he won’t even try.

      I’ve been saying that about the Bush family for 20 years. Although I would tweek it to read “public office for private gain.” The Bush family, like Rick Scott, have made their living leeching off of the government for 80 years.

      Jeb’s latest government teat is the charter school industry – taking taxpayer money that should be going to the public school system, cutting teacher salaries and skimming profits off of the top.

      The Bush family are the epitome of government parasites.

  • James E. Powell

    I am not surprised by this. When a Republican abandons a previously reasonable or even semi-reasonable position in order to adhere more closely to his party’s right-wing orthodoxy, it is never regarded as ‘flip-flopping’ or anything negative. He’s just showing that he connects with the Heartland Americans.

    And although this is totally anecdotal, every single one of my right-wing associates and family members considered Obama’s executive action, temporary sort of Dream Act to be grounds for impeachment. They are not interested in any ‘path to citizenship’ that doesn’t satisfy their visceral need to inflict misery on people who have become the target of their anxieties about the Death of America.

  • Shakezula

    He was for it, then he was against it, and if he runs for office, he will be o so puzzled when someone mentions it.

    Same as it ever was.

  • Patrick Pine

    Just don’t see one name out there for the GOP right now…see several, including Bush, who are “damaged” goods. And one of the major funders, Adelson, just admitted that his casino corporation likely violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in conjunction with his casinos in Macau (essentially that means colluding with the Chinese government) – while trying to blame a former executive – wonder how well that will go over with the average American??? Sounds like the GOP needs to find someone new to consider but somehow the split between the hard right and the more traditional GOP will make that difficult.

    • RhZ

      I wrote in a few places weeks ago that there is no way in hell that Adelson got the right to run his casino in Macao without indebting himself deeply to the communist party. That means massive payoffs (probably on a weekly basis), ‘partners’ that run stuff from within his operation that he can’t control (meaning prostitution and drugs), and everything that goes with.

      To say that Sheldon is mobbed up in Macao would be a serious understatment. He is taking orders from the mob over there (but I guess that’s what mobbed up means).

      So the recent disclosures were less than surprising.

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