Jeb Bush and me

Well, no, not really. While he was governor, Jeb Bush and I had one short e-mail exchange, about a disability policy issue. That’ll prove disappointingly mundane if it’s in the cache of emails that Bush’s office has already released or will soon be releasing.

But I do have a written record of comments on Jeb Bush as an education policymaker. An incomplete list of relevant blog entries:

And some non-blog items (ignoring news articles where I was a minor source):

I’ve spoken with a few reporters since Bush started moving towards a presidential campaign, and in case I am quoted in any story, I don’t think any of my comments on education policy should be a surprise.

I haven’t spoken that much about Bush as a politician or his political prospects. For the record, I disagree with George Will and others who think that the Common Core will present a significant barrier for Bush to the GOP nomination. That’s small potatoes in the larger fight over donations and delegates. The only incumbent state chief state school officers who lost political contests with Common Core as an issue were Tony Bennett in Indiana (2012) and John Huppenthal in Arizona (2014). In Indiana, a bipartisan coalition tackled Bennett, and in Arizona, Huppenthal shot himself in the foot with online sock puppetry. In neither case is it clear that Common Core was the primary issue, and those were in races where education is the only relevant issue. Bush may lose a few delegates because of his education policy positions, but he will lose a few more on immigration, and not too many in any case.

For allegations about both Common Core and Bush’s foundations, I advocate being skeptical. Emails about Patricia Levesque and other Bush foundation staff members may make you blanche if you’re naive about politics and sausage-making, but I’ve never seen Bush go further than make stupid mistakes in legal or political matters, and all politicians do that occasionally. Jeb Bush is a social conservative who was an activist governor, fought to reduce taxes on Florida’s wealthiest residents, pushed privatization in several areas of government, generally turned a blind eye to problems of privatization in Florida, and would do the same in Washington. He does not generally talk with policy adversaries, and that will likely lead to tin-ear syndrome for at least a few months (or his entire administration) if he becomes president. But that’s different from allegations of open corruption.

Keep your shirt on is good general advice when looking at the Jeb Bush record; he is generally who he claims to be.