Even Jeb Bush Decries Today's Extreme Partisanship

Jeb Bush recognizes that politicians today are incapable of compromise.

Jeb Bush

You know the level of anger and partisanship is bad when Democrats point to a Bush as the voice of sanity.

Democrats, of course, got their candidate elected to the White House in 2008 in substantial part by running against someone who wasn't even on the ballot anymore—former President George W. Bush. Bush was seen as so polarizing, not only in the United States but around the world, that President Obama was given the Nobel Peace Prize soon after taking office. It's not that the president had brokered some major peace deal, but the very change in tone and approach was such a relief from Bush's swaggering manner that it seemed as though the change of the White House occupant alone was worth an award.

It's easy to blame Obama for the current pathetic state of affairs in Washington discourse, since he's the president and there's a naïve sense in America that the president can make anyone do anything. But how can you negotiate with people whose idea of negotiation is that they get their way?

[ See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican Party.]

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, brother of the former president, took his own party to task recently, saying:

Back to my dad's time and Ronald Reagan's time—they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan support. [Reagan] would be criticized for doing the things that he did … Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my dad, they would have a hard time if you define the Republican Party—and I don't—as having an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement, doesn't allow for finding some common ground.

It was spot on, but Republicans complained bitterly. As Politico reported, bloggers were in an uproar, complaining that the GOP lost the presidency in 2008 because it nominated a "RINO" (Republican in Name Only) like Sen. John McCain, and that if it loses this year, it will be because it nominated a RINO like former Gov. Mitt Romney.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

Maybe—from a strategic perspective. It's possible that the my-way-or-the-highway camp in the Republican party is big enough now to put an extreme, uncompromising person in office. But then what? Would that president get anything done, other than lambaste Democrats for not caving into what he or she wants?

Bush clarified his remarks, noting in a tweet,  "Past four years, Democrats have held leadership roles with opportunities to reach across political aisle. For sake of politics, they haven't." Well, maybe. But how can you reach across the aisle in a chamber where the GOP leader went on record saying his party's priority was to defeat Obama. The problem isn't that either side isn't reaching out a hand of friendship. The problem is that all the parties want is to win. They need to legislate and govern.