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Alleged Bush Liability Actually May Be an Asset

May 26, 2014 - 6:00pm

There are two strikes going against former Gov. Jeb Bush if he decides to run for president in 2016, according to what is termed conventional wisdom.

One is that his name is Bush. This is perceived by some pundits to be an obstacle.

I don't buy it. He is not George H.W. Bush and he is not George W. Bush. Not that he would have to apologize for it if he were, but he is not. He is Jeb Bush.

If low-information voters who didn't like his father and brother want to vote against him because of his name, there is nothing anyone can do about it, but most voters are rational, despite the evidence from 2008 and 2012.

Bush is a Republican and a conservative. He was governor of Florida from 1998 to 2006.

I first met him before that, when he was head of the Commerce Department and was leading an effort to eliminate the department.

It was the first time I had ever met a bureaucrat not seeking to build an empire but to wipe out one. It was awesome, and he succeeded.

After I retired, I worked for him briefly and again was impressed. His approach to policy was, "What's in it for Florida families?" That's pretty refreshing when the standard Democrat approach is, "How much money will it bring into government?"

So his candidacy, if there is one, should be welcomed by conservatives. Unfortunately, there are some who want to write him off because he supports the Common Core standards.

We have to parse that opposition. There are, again, low-information voters who believe Common Core places a new curriculum in the schools that instructs children Americans are racists and evil, and communism is superior to capitalism.

Common Core sets standards. Local schools boards set curriculum for the district.

Other opponents rightly see a danger in Common Core. They fear the federal government will seize control of it and impose the type of curriculum they fear.

A valid concern. But it was valid before Common Core and will be valid if Common Core is not adopted. The federal government will seize all the control it can from state and local governments and must be opposed at every step.

My take on it is this: I'd rather have a conservative like Jeb Bush, who would not allow the federal government to take control of local schools, as president than a big government proponent like Hillary Clinton.

He was a champion of standards, accountability and choice as governor, and I would expect him to be as president.

Thus, for rational voters, his name will not be a liability and his stance on education should be an asset.

Lloyd Brown was in the newspaper business nearly 50 years, beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville. After retirement he served as speech writer for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

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