As you all know, I am not a big fan of either daddy H.W. Bush or his eldest son “W,” the latter having left the nation in virtual ruins after his reign as president from 2001 to 2009.
It was this sad state of affairs that led to the election of President Barack Hussein Obama, likely the most corrupt, incompetent, racist, ideologically dangerous and dishonest president in American history. Indeed, the unfolding events in Iraq this week – which presage a terrorist takeover of the country – underscore just how misguided “W” was in not only economic affairs, but also international affairs. It now is tragically reconfirmed that our brave fighting men and women in uniform gave of their lives and bodies for no reason – as it now is clear that the world would be better off even if Saddam Hussein were still in power. The current president – not coincidentally another Hussein – Barack Hussein Obama – has been an even greater disaster when it comes to foreign affairs. His Islamic roots, Farrakhan-like Black Muslim loyalties and not too latent anti-Semitic, anti-Christian prejudices having overshadowed any semblance of a balanced and realistic approach to the Middle East.
In short, “W” and Obama have made a highly dangerous mess. The Iraq war, the Afghan war, Syria, Libya and Iran have proven to be even greater tragedies than Vietnam.
But we should not judge Jeb Bush by the failures of his brother or his dad.
I first met Jeb in 1994, when I moved to Miami. At the time, Jeb was the titular president of a real estate company owned by a powerful Cuban, Armando Codina.
I wanted to meet Jeb because at the time I was practicing as an international lawyer and thought that we could work together to promote trade in Miami, a gateway to Latin America and even Europe. So I arranged to meet him at his headquarters in Coral Gables. Having just lost his first bid to be governor of Florida, he had started a nonprofit group he named the “Foundation for Florida’s Future.”
At the outset of our first encounter, and we would have more over the years, Jeb’s secretary led me into a penthouse suite. As I sat down in a Italian-style leather chair opposite a glass coffee table, Jeb entered the room. His warm gaze was friendly and his handshake firm. I wanted to like to him immediately.
Having exchanged a few niceties – Jeb said that he had followed my early work at Judicial Watch, and I countered with his Florida gubernatorial run – I asked him why he thought he had lost his election bid to be governor. Laughing to himself somewhat, he responded, “Do you really want to know?” Responding yes, he told me that he had made a big mistake when, at a political rally, an African-American woman challenged him angrily with a question: “I am black and a woman. What, Mr. Bush, are you going to do for me?” Jeb responded, “Nothing.”
Jeb explained that he did not mean to be disrespectful to the African American woman; rather it was his conservative nature that instinctively reacted to this taunt to give preferential treatment to persons on the basis of their race and sex. Bravo, I thought. But his opponent, incumbent Gov. Lawton Chiles, successfully used this against him.
The meeting lasted about an hour, with daddy Bush calling at one point to discuss, over a speaker phone, the new North American Free Trade Agreement with his son. While attending the University of Texas, Jeb had studied in Mexico, where he met his wife, Columba, and took a special interest in the country for obvious reasons. As a result, he became fluent in Spanish.
At the close of the meeting, I pledged to help Jeb with his new foundation to promote Miami’s rise as an international city. I even donated a thousand dollars to his group. But as Judicial Watch – a government watchdog – became prominent, Jeb never took me up on my offer, despite banking the donation. He would, however, call me from time to time as he was interested and said he was a fan of my work at Judicial Watch. I understood why he did not want to get too close, given that his family had a few political ethical skeletons of its own.
During my own Florida Senate campaign in 2004, our paths also crossed, and while Jeb did not help me, I did not feel that he tried to hurt me either. Rather, as governor – and he was an excellent governor even if I clashed somewhat with him when he failed to step to save the life of Terri Schiavo – he was on orders by brother “W” to promote Mel Martinez in the race, as the president incorrectly believed that Martinez, a Cuban American and former Bush Cabinet secretary, would boost the president’s 2004 re-election chances.
Having had experience with Jeb personally, I believe that he is a decent and generally honest man, with enough principle and toughness to be the commander in chief. In short, he has the intellectual capacity to be president and lacks the Napoleonic arrogance of Rand Paul and the phoniness of Marco Rubio. While conservatives may think that he is soft on illegal immigration, and I am adamantly against illegal immigration myself, Jeb is a pragmatist and will not agree to amnesty in the end. The Republican Party needs a lot of Latin votes to win, and he can bring them to the GOP.
Even if Jeb is from an establishment political family in the truest sense, which has cozied up to the Clintons in the past, he is smart, humble and pragmatic enough to know that he must tack right to we tea partiers if he is to win the nomination.
Let us put Jeb to the test and invite him to become a fellow tea partier. If he genuinely accepts the invitation, he should get serious consideration as an opponent of what is likely to be Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee. Ted Cruz, who is Latin and whom I also like, is not a natural born citizen eligible to run for the presidency as his parents were not American citizens at the time he was born.
So don’t write off Jeb. If he comes to us, be prepared to consider him. Any opponent of Hillary Clinton needs “mucho” Latin votes to rid the nation of the stench of the Obama administration and prevent the return of the Clintons. Even if Jeb is branded as a “Bush” and not perfect (no politician today is), as he showed me during our first encounter, he is at heart a conservative and can possibly win if he sincerely moves further right, joins “our party” and learns to drink our brand of tea. Mambo!
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