The Jeb Bush Myth

Jeb Bush, George P. Bush


Now that the horrors of the latest Bush presidency are fading in America’s collective memory, Republicans are warming to the idea of another Bush in the White House. I was expecting something like this but I thought the most likely member of the dynasty would be George P (above, right). Surprise! It’s Jeb, (above, left) who – as I’m sure you know – is George P’s dad.

I guess I didn’t think the bad taste left by George W’s administration would fade this fast.

I don’t know George P but I’ve met Jeb. It was before he became governor of Florida, when he was a businessman in Miami and I was managing editor of a business weekly called Miami Today.

The paper had a feature called Man of the Week (or something close), and the freelancer who produced it wasn’t available one week so I had to cover for him.

It was not a pleasant experience.

Jeb Bush was uncooperative, arrogant – even haughty. He refused to answer several innocuous questions because he thought they were too personal and he barely bothered to answer the others. It was obvious he thought the newspaper and I were not worth his valuable time.

That was just my impression though. My cousin Colin worked on one of his projects – I think it was in the Cayman Islands – and seemed to think Jeb was an OK guy.

Yes, it could have been the Cayman Islands. Jeb’s web is spread that wide. I believe his myriad money making enterprises even included housing projects for Caribbean governments. It’s impossible to confirm that, though. Jeb was (is) into too many real estate ventures for anyone to keep track of them.  I understand he and his Cuban-American partner Amando Codina built subdivisions on the fringes of the precious Everglades, for example.

There’s a widespread perception of Jeb as a regular guy – pro Hispanic and all. You know he is married to a Mexican, right?

But I wouldn’t trust the guy. I’ve read that when his brother, Neil, was mixed up in that Savings & Loan scandal back in the Eighties, Jeb emerged with an unpaid loan of nearly $5 million. I haven’t read anything about him paying it back.

And if (when?) he becomes a presidential candidate, you are sure to hear how popular he was as our governor here in Florida. But he wasn’t popular with me. As a reporter with the Tampa Tribune, I wrote many a story about his “conservative” policies – with which I personally disagreed strongly (but you know I had to be “objective”).

One I found most distasteful (and couldn’t say so)  was his push for school vouchers. It looked to me like a thinly veiled attempt to bring back school segregation, but it seemed to have a lot of support in Florida. Especially in those areas that still retain echoes of the Old South.

But you can be sure candidate Jeb will be perceived as a moderate Republican with common-sense, down-to-earth ideas, a guy who can get along with people of various ethnic backgrounds, etc., etc. An adroit politician with “the common touch.”

I suppose the name “Jeb” has something to do with the public’s image of him. But that isn’t even his name. The guy was christened John Ellis Bush, and somebody must have noticed that the initials spell Jeb. He liked the nickname so much he adopted it.

But to me, he remains John Ellis Bush, scion of one of the wealthiest families in America, a business tycoon who does what he has to – and with whomever he has to – when it comes to making a buck.

I have no doubt that a vote for this Bush would be a vote for the same help-the-rich policies we got from the other members of the family.

Click for more about Jeb Bush.

Click for the Bush family and the S&L scandal.

Click for Jeb as presidential candidate.