Much has been made of this sensational headline over the weekend. My, my we've become quick to eat our own and throw Jeb Bush under the bus.
But did anyone actually go beyond the headline to consider what he was actually saying (and there is more to it than was reported)?
First, shame on those of you who'd throw Jeb under the bus for his last name. Let's compare his record to that of his brother's or most other so called conservatives. Bush actually cut taxes in Florida, reformed education, allowed school choice, reduced government personnel, relied on the private sector, ended affirmative action in higher education, and a host of other conservative positions. He does not just talk the talk, but he walks the walk.
So when a guy like Jeb stands up and says, "You can't beat something with nothing, and the other side has something. I don't like it, but they have it, and we have to be respectful and mindful of that," you might want to actually look beyond his last name to what he is actually talking about.
The reaction to his statement and the sensation headline at the Washington Times proves his point. It is time to get over Reagan — not the man or his ideas, but his administration.
If you remember, Reagan ran in 1980 against Jimmy Carter and stagflation. He ran against appeasing the Soviet Union. He ran against an out of touch and out of control Washington. Guess what? Most people these days think it was Republicans who caused the current economic crisis and Republicans who dismantled Reagan's vision of government in favor of out of control government.
When your party is so grossly connected to the present out of control Washington, it does very little good to talk about fighting Jimmy Carter's stagflation and the Soviet Union — neither of which exist.
And yet . . . we do. We do because we do no have any worthwhile candidates right now, so we have fallen into one of the devil's favorite traps.
I often quote the 15th of Screwtape's letters to Wormwood. In it, Screwtape tells Wormwood to do his best to keep man living in the past or the future, but never the present. If men dwell in the past, they become angry with the present and shut down, unwilling to cope. They get mad at God. If men live in the future, they don't prepare for the future because they expect it to get better. When the future comes and it is not better, just like with living in the past, men get angry with God.
Republicans, right now, are living in the past. We are all fondly remembering what we had with Ronald Reagan — a real conservative leader who practiced what he preached. We don't have that in the present.
Bush's point, and my point, is that we have to stop living in the past. If you want another Ronald Reagan, start working on it today. But be mindful that the issues that will get us back on the road to the majority are not the same issues that existed in 1980.
In other words, and what Jeb Bush has said more than once, as have Fred Thompson and others, keep Ronald Reagan's values and ideals, but apply them to today's issues.
Don't throw Jeb out of the party for saying what he said. He was right. And those of you who lashed out at him for daring to say what he said prove his point. We will not win in the twenty-first century on twentieth century issues. We will, however, win by going back to Reagan's ideal of free people and free markets.
And who knows, by the time 2012 rolls around, we may actually be back to 1980's style issues. But we don't get there by going backwards. We get there moving every forward.