Washington Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia isn’t holding back about how he feels about former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s move away from an easy “path to citizenship” for illegal aliens. On Saturday, he retweeted Slate's Dave Weigel: “Jeb Bush's unforced Romneyization is excruciating to behold.”
On Sunday, he reviewed Jeb Bush’s book in the Post’s Sunday Outlook section. Bush has “abruptly backflipped” away from where liberal reporters wanted him to be, which means he’s “rusty.”
It was “was surely intended to play to one of Bush’s strengths. Instead, it has prompted a critical reexamination of the former Florida governor and suggestions that this skilled politician and deep thinker might be a bit rusty six years after leaving office.”
Roig-Franzia doesn't trash the book in this review, calling it a "sophisticated take" that can sound like "an ode to immigration, with Bush arguing forcefully and convincingly for policies that would encourage more -- not fewer -- migrants to enter the country. He compares Bush to Sen. Marco Rubio, a possible presidential rival in 2016:
It’s a curious time for Bush to harden his position on immigration by opposing a path to citizenship, considering the fact that Republicans are desperate to woo Hispanics. Even the Cuban American Rubio, once an avowed opponent of such a path, has been coming around to the idea lately, joining a bipartisan effort in the Senate to change the nation’s immigration laws. Bush has tried to backpedal: In interviews this past week he made qualified statements in favor of a path to citizenship and has explained that he wrote the book last year. But these limp attempts are undercut by the tone he takes in print.
The Post reporter even takes to "Earth to Jeb" scolding in the book review:
He takes pains to denounce the notion of spurring “self-deportation” by shutting off work opportunities for undocumented immigrants, an idea that so undermined Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. But the process Bush prescribes sounds remarkably similar.
“Anyone who does not come forward under this process will be subject to automatic deportation, unless they choose to return voluntarily to their native countries,” he writes.
Earth to Jeb: When an illegal immigrant voluntarily leaves the country for fear of deportation, that’s a form of self-deportation.
Do liberal journalists know they're being unintentionally funny when they laud a Republican for adopting conventional liberal thinking and herd mentality, and yet casting that as unconventional and refreshing? As in this passage:
The former governor argues that politicians should not be bullied into inaction by a “lethal” combination of “ideological rancor, demagoguery, and political cowardice.” But his shifts in tone and policy make him sound a bit unsteady, as if he’s fearful that his previous moderation wouldn’t be acceptable to the Republican primary voters he may court in a few years. Certainly not what might have been expected from a politician who made his mark by showing a willingness to defy conventional thinking and herd mentality.
Bush laments the “tragic lost opportunity” of the last presidential election, saying a Republican Party that failed to recognize the changing makeup of America was hobbled by “largely self-inflicted” wounds.
In writing this odd but irresistible book, Bush has surely inflicted some wounds on himself, too, at least with moderates who thought they knew him well.
But if 2016 is his aim, he has plenty of time to heal.
There is always the hope that a Republican can "heal" by moving back to "moderate."