More on the Jeb Bush-Barack Obama Comparison

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34 Responses

  1. Kazzy says:

    “…considering the scope of executive power exercised in the last two presidencies, at this particular juncture in history, the country would benefit from someone who was a little more circumspect about the exercise of executive power.”

    Color my cynical, but I see “People who are circumspect about the exercise of executive power” and “People who run for President” as mutually esclusive groups. Oh, folks from the latter may present themselves — or believe themselves — to be part of the former, but my sense is that once they take that oath, executive power seems pretty damn appealing.Report

  2. greginak says:

    This seems like a pretty fair summary even with the obviously wrong conservative tilt ( i kid …i kid). Of the R’s Bush would be least bad i think however i wonder where some of his positions would lead to if he did become Prez. He differs from most R’s on immigration but it seems like his position is out of bounds with the R’s will he have to “evolve” on it or just never ever get anything done. O’s unprecedented action came after the Senate’s plan being tossed in the bin by the House and a clear “we ain’t doing anything” message for years. Where would Bush go with health care? It seems again the R’s have talked themselves into a place where nothing can be done except kill the ACA.

    I’d bet Bush would be more of standard R on foreign policy at this point which means more war, more intervention, more aggression and less diplomacy. Sadly Hillary isn’t likely to be significantly better, just slightly better.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to greginak says:

      “more war, more intervention, ”

      More than what we have now?Report

      • greginak in reply to Kolohe says:

        Ummm yeah. We could have been sporking about far more in various countries then O has done. A bunch of R’s have been calling for boots on the ground to fight ISIS, don’t want to draw done in Afgan. and are sure as hell staunchly against negotiating with Iran. You may think O has used to much force, and i would agree with you, but many R’s want more and think O has surrendered the country to the mooslim hordes. So yup, far more than now.Report

      • zic in reply to Kolohe says:

        What @greginak said.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Kolohe says:

        “boots on the ground to fight ISIS”

        I’m pretty sure the 82nd has landed by now the typical drop takes far less than 4 months. (And they deployed before this year’s hover technology comes on line)

        “don’t want to draw down in Afghanistan”

        neither does ObamaReport

      • greginak in reply to Kolohe says:

        K, Plenty of R’s harped at O for pulling us mostly out of Iraq in freaking 2009. They blamed O for the rise of ISIS for not keeping lots of troops in Iraq. O has drawn down in Afg. but has at time slowed the pace down. Do you think R’s want the troops out or would have even gone at a slow pace like O has. O has pulled troops out of AF against what the R’s want. Did you notice the attempt to sabotage the negotiations with Iran by the 47###’s? I never said O hasn’t used the military more than i, or you, want. But it’s ridiculous to think O has used the maximal amount of force possible or that R’s don’t want more aggression. Really and truly, if you think O is the far end of the aggression spectrum you aren’t paying attention.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Kolohe says:

        “if you think O is the far end of the aggression spectrum you aren’t paying attention.”

        You’re absolutely right of course. Hillary Clinton has liked every war Obama has and some he didn’t.Report

      • greginak in reply to Kolohe says:

        Yeah Hills is on the hawkish side for the D’s unfortunately. She would be a shrinking violet in the R’s which is some comfort.

        Dan, would the various foreign policy differences be something you could comment on and where you see that going in the election?Report

      • zic in reply to Kolohe says:

        I second that request.

        And if anyone wants to start a series of matching posts for Clinton (or any other candidate), this could be a very nice debate.

        One interesting thing about a Clinton/Bush ticket would be some catharsis. Baby boomers have got a lot of shit they haven’t worked out yet. And there’s a lot of them.Report

      • Road Scholar in reply to Kolohe says:

        @kolohe :
        “more war, more intervention, ”

        More than what we have now?

        I refer you to the Speaker of the House.

        “The world is starving for American leadership. But America has an anti-war president,” Boehner said during a Capitol Hill press conference. “We have no strategy, overarching strategy to deal with the growing terrorist threat.”

        “It’s not just ISIS or al Qaeda and all of their affiliates,” the speaker added. “We’ve got a serious problem facing the world, and America by and large is sitting on the sidelines.”

        Look, none of us here are claiming that either Obama or Clinton is the embodiment of non-interventionist pacifism like some fresh-off-the-farm Quaker. But this notion that there’s no difference between R’s and D’s on this front is patently absurd. If McCain had been elected we would likely be five years into a full blown war with Iran by now. Romney, only a year or so. And Syria. And back in Iraq directly engaging ISIS. Don’t take my word for it; just listen to them. Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Kolohe says:

        There isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the two major parties. Nader revealed that in 2000, and W, by continuing all of Clinton’s policies, proved it.Report

      • Gabriel Conroy in reply to Kolohe says:

        I think an R as president would probably bemore hawklike than HRC, not because she is less hawkish than any conceivable R nominee that I know of (I include Rand Paul in this assessment, but who knows if I´m right?), but because HRC´s likely constiuency would be slightly less hawkish. There seem to be more R´s in Congress calling for a more aggressive foreign policy than there are Dem´s.

        My main point in saying all this is to underscore that unless a president has a strong character, he or she will probably be guided by their base (or at least the people who get elected to speak for the party…..I´m quite willing to admit the possibility that most republicans personally don´t wish for the irresponsible war that the rhetoric offered by the leading lights in the party seem to suggest they´re advocating for).

        On the OP itself, excellent job and well-written. And for the record, I don´t think the OP “underplays” the Obama is a socialist talk at all. It acknowledges that that talk exists, and then goes on to analyze issues without resorting to that talk. Which is all to the good.Report

      • Kim in reply to Kolohe says:

        Zandi says we’re all Keynesians now.
        (note: this is a JOKE, referencing the McCain’s committment to counter-cyclical government investment via war in Afghanistan/Iraq).Report

  3. Saul Degraw says:

    A lot of the complaints here seem to be the type that can often be rooted in partisanship and the type where BDSI but we only really notice it when the Other Side does it.

    Most politicians are lawyers/litigators and this is true for both parties. Lawyers and Litigators are trained to find ambiguity in laws and cases to help their case/outcome and that of their client. The different I propose is that when the litgator becomes a politican, the client becomes the desired litigation and outcome for policy instead of Corporation X or Ms. Smith. I was just working on a case where I found a case that really helped my client and then some applications that potentially helped the other side. My solution is to look for the ambiguity and differences in the factual patterns (which exist) and are a plausible argument that can be said with a straight face.

    Human nature being human nature, we notice the other side violating the spirit of the law (or what we believe the spirit of the law to be) while obeying the letter of the law pretty frequently.

    Being on the liberal side, I think you downplay how many people in the GOP do the radical socialist rhetoric. Maybe they are few in number but they speak to the heart of the base and seem to get the wallets and purses to open up easily. So I feel like the GOP doesn’t do enough to keep the hyperbole down.Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    Soon we’ll be able to call the people who compare Hillary to Rose Mary Woods “sexist”.

    They should be comparing her to Nixon.Report

    • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

      I think it will be a little while before the real deluge of comparison to Rose Mary Woods start. But boy once they start the news won’t stop with Rose Mary this and Rose Mary that….all we’ll hear about in the news will be Rose Mary Woods 24/7….CNN will be running specials on her with fancy 3D graphics and panels yakking about her.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

        Perhaps we’ll see “We don’t understand why they got so upset about this back then” articles.Report

      • greginak in reply to greginak says:

        I’m betting we’ll hear more about how Hillary was the gunwoman who personally shot Vince Foster and how she actually led the attack on Bengazi.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

        Yeah, we probably won’t hear about how she deleted the emails on her email server during a congressional investigation.Report

      • greginak in reply to greginak says:

        Oh she deserves plenty of heat and she’ll even get some of it when she isn’t having to answer crazy butt conspiracy questions. I’ll also wait a bit before deciding how bad she f’d up until we have a more complete story about her e-mails and we know what we have and what we don’t.Report

  5. Crprod says:

    Did she just delete the emails or was the server wiped? In the former case, recovery could be possible. From my IT work experience at a large university, having a private email server was something that was totally forbidden, but I can see that in certain situations with extremely powerful and older people, a request to have a personal server is a command.Report

    • Kim in reply to Crprod says:

      It’s thousands of dollars to do a good recovery (gleaning after deletion and even scrubbing). And you can bet congress won’t authorize it (would screw up their narrative).Report

  6. Mike Schilling says:

    It’s difficult for me to think of Jeb as a respecter of limited executive power, given the dictatorial powers he asked for, was granted, and exercised during the Terri Schiavo case, until the Florida courts struck them down.Report

    • Gabriel Conroy in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Something that has always bothered me about that case is whether cutting off someone´s water is a horrible way to let them die. For all I know, Jeb and the GOP did what they did more because they were signalling and less for other reasons. But still, the whole thing bothers me.Report

      • Kim in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

        Thirst is among the strongest motivators. We’re talking 9.5 out of 10. (Lack of Sex can get more than it, but…). Way, way worse than lack of food.

        People will literally drink blood if they’re thirsty enough.Report

  7. A Compromised Immune System says:

    That the plaintiffs have a case in King v. Burwell is just one indicator.

    After re-reading that linked article I think this is silly. The article only gets where it’s going by misreading the 1311 statute to say “by a state” after previously quoting it correctly as “by the state.”Report

  8. A Compromised Immune System says:

    The decision to suspend deportation on so many undocumented immigrants certainly flew in the face of precedent and the use of prosecutorial discretion.

    Here’s a list of prior similar administrative actions.
    Eisenhower 1956 – 30,000 Hungarian refugees.
    Eisenhower/Kennedy/Johnson/Nixon 1959-1972, – 600,000 Cuban refugees.
    Kennedy/Johnson 1962, – 15,000 Chinese refugees.
    Ford/Carter 1975-1979, – 360,000 refugees from southeast asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos) including the 130,000 refugees from the Vietnam war.
    Ford 1976 – 14,000 Lebanese.
    Carter 1977 – 500,000 visa holders affected under “Silva Letters” because State Department had incorrectly calculated a visa cap.
    Carter/Reagan 1977-1982, – 15,000 Ethiopians
    Carter, 1977-1980, – 50,000 Soviet refugees
    Carter, 1980 – 123,000 Cubans from the Mariel Boatlift incident.
    Reagan, 1981-1987, – 7,000 Polish
    Reagan, 1987 – 200,000 Nicaraguans
    Bush41, 1989 – 80,000 Chinese refugees after Tiananmen Square. Renewed again in 1990.
    Bush41, 1990 – 1.5 MILLION children and spouses of persons covered under the 1986 amnesty law signed by Reagan.
    Bush41, 1991 – 190,000 Salvadorans
    Clinton, 1994 – 28,000 Cubans
    Clinton, 1997 – 40,000 Haitians
    Clinton, 1998 – 150,000 deportations suspended due to destination nations being hit by Hurricane Mitch.

    Now would you kindly tell me again how DACA is “unprecedented”?Report

    • Seems obvious: this is “unlimited” (not racial/state based).Report

      • A Compromised Immune System in reply to Kim says:

        this is “unlimited” (not racial/state based)

        To qualify for DACA, applicants must meet the following major requirements, although meeting them does not guarantee approval.[4]

        Here are the requirements. Looks a lot like Bush41’s to me, @kim

        -Came to the United States before 16th birthday
        -Have lived continuously in the United States since 15 July 2007
        -Were under age 31 on 15 June 2012
        -Have completed high school or a GED, have been honorably discharged from the armed forces, or are enrolled in school
        -Have not been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanorsReport

      • Kim in reply to Kim says:

        I’ll conceed the point.
        Of course, the REAL reason is that folks like Hebrew National like not needing to pay minimum wage, and they support the GOP. Other GOP folks want legalization because it would be better for their business, but…Report

    • Now would you kindly tell me again how DACA is “unprecedented”?

      (1) Those are tens of thousands. Your two largest examples are a correction of a procedural error in existing law (“Silva Letters”) and the 1986 amnesty law. The rest of them are much smaller.

      (2) Those are almost all somewhat directly correlated to a large (and temporary) influx of immigrants due to a geopolitical event or natural disaster.

      DACA applies to… what, 3-6 million people?

      While I grant you that “unprecedented” is probably not the right descriptor for Dan to have used, here, I think it’s also fair to say that in this case “stretching the rules” has become rather exaggerated.Report

  9. Patrick says:


    He asserts that a better similarity to draw between Obama and Jeb Bush is their pragmatic, technocratic outlook on governance, rather than on their ability to seem moderate and reasonable while actually being quite ideological.

    Well, close enough for government work.

    My general outlook on questions of ideology is that discussions usually wind up focusing on (the beliefs of the folks involved in the conversation) about (the beliefs of the subject of the conversation), which rarely results in anything resembling a falsifiable proposition and usually degenerates into a war of faith rather than a discussion. “I think he thinks” is a much more fraught conversation than “I think he does”, after all.

    Focusing on what pols try to achieve – rather than what we think they may or may not believe – is much more likely to get us into the area of what we really care about. I mean, I don’t care whether or not a politician would ban guns outright, or outlaw abortion, or any one of a number of other things, if they had Supreme Power. I care about what they do with the less-than-Supreme-Power they have. YMMV.

    Aside from ideologues and team-shouting folks on either side of the aisle (who represent a huge majority of the participants in political blogospheria, but probably a pretty small minority of folks in general), folks really don’t care too much about *why* a politician does stuff. They care about the stuff.

    I believe that the aim of PPACA was to get everyone into some sort of “universal” system, so the principle of universal coverage would become entrenched in the American social contract. The details of the entrenchment were far less important than the result.

    This is pretty much my view as to why Obama (or any left-leaning Executive) would have supported PPACA as written. “Get it in there and we will work out the details over the next thirty years” is not an entirely poor long term strategy even if the short-term results are less optimal, or even possibly counterproductive. (Of course, it depends upon the body politic buying into the entitlement.)

    Obama is an ambitious realist who believes in co-opting stakeholders and marginalizing opponents that can’t be co-opted.

    Yes, this seems pretty accurate.

    He believes in using the power of government to solve social problems, but believes that he can get closer to his desired outcomes by working through existing systems like the private economy, rather than destroying those systems.

    Yes, I think this seems pretty accurate as well.

    I would call him a pragmatic progressive consequentialist: he wants to improve things and shift the state of public policy to the Left.

    I like this framing. I agree.

    Obama has decided that making a positive difference while in office is more important than more nebulous things like inter-branch comity, or tradition, or the separation of powers, or executive modesty, or the rule of law; the means are less important than getting to the right outcomes.

    Yes, and I think this is broadly applicable to anybody who winds up getting their butt in The Big Chair (or any office higher than Local Dogcatcher).

    It’s very nearly axiomatic that folks that acquire power in a structured system will default to using that power inside that structured system, both for practical reasons (I have the reins of power now, I’m going to put them to good use) and for confirmation bias reasons (of course this is an acceptable use of power, I’m using it).

    The Obama Administration has essentially run something of an ad hoc conference committee as the executive branch, using executive actions to smooth out the flaws of the bill that should have been worked out in conference.


    The decision to suspend deportation on so many undocumented immigrants certainly flew in the face of precedent and the use of prosecutorial discretion.

    I completely agree with these two assessments. I think the Net Neutrality discussion is more complicated but essentially a correct assessment, as well. BUT…

    Whether or not this bends precedent and practice is a chicken-and-egg (or cart and horse) problem, and the amount of opprobrium we ought to be leveling, and which target we throw it at (the Executive Branch v. the Legislative) is subject to some serious debate.

    One can certainly make the case that Congress – as a body – has been particularly nonfunctional since 2010, in particular. I will assert that for the purposes of this conversation, it’s my belief that Congress is at a historical nadir for effectiveness (we can get more into that conversation if you like, but for the purposes of this already-very-long comment, I’m just putting it out there… this Congress is quite possibly the worst one in the post-Industrial era).

    Speaking as someone who is fairly socially progressive, fairly economically middle-of-the-road, definitely pragmatic, and not particularly enamored of Team Blue… I have to say that I put the vast majority of the current dysfunction of government on the head of Congress, myself, not El Presidente.

    The track record of this Congress has been utterly abysmal. In the three particular instances you brought up here (immigration, net neutrality, and PPACA) it has clearly been the case that the legislative branch has abdicated any attempt to present itself as a serious participant in the governance project. The shenanigans over refusing to pass a budget, alone, are simply wretched.

    It’s basically off-the-table as a possibility that Congress will “fix” PPACA in conference. The House has voted how many times to repeal it outright? Boehner may even be willing to pretend that he’d throw some attempt at bipartisanship into a conference committee, but if push comes to shove and they actually got to the point where they’d try to form one, he’d have to punt. He doesn’t control his own half of Congress sufficiently to lead it (Harry Reid did, but Harry isn’t a leader, he’s just a negotiator).

    Given that, “going it alone” is somewhat more justifiable than “going out on your own despite unified Congressional Will to the Contrary”.

    I would think that in the presence of such a disengaged Congress I’d cut a center-right Executive as much slack as I’m willing to cut Mr. Obama. If Congress isn’t willing to do its job, you really have only two choices: let the government fall apart or just start doing things.

    Lacking a budget (which we are), Congress has essentially given wide latitude to the Executive to make his own decisions about how to Execute. It has abdicated its overall responsibility to *dictate* how the bills get paid, so somebody has to do it… and the political handwringing about individual spending bills strikes me as an entirely political construct for messaging purposes rather than any principled stand about procedure or tradition.

    I agree with Patrick about neoliberalism; Jeb appears out of that tradition. But we do see a conservative tinge to his neoliberalism. For one, Jeb Bush’s surpluses were returned to taxpayers via tax cuts, rather than socked away. (I should have mentioned that in my piece!)

    To me, this isn’t necessarily a good or conservative idea, either (although it may be). I would regard a conservative approach to governance would be an approach that is most likely to protect against long-term instability. Putting a surplus during the uptime into a reserve against the downtime is inherently pretty conservative. Returning it to the taxpayers makes sense if you believe the budget has long term viability, but that’s a trickier question (and I don’t know enough about the comparative differences between Florida’s revenue history and California’s to make an assessment of how valid that is, in this case).Report

  10. Rufus F. says:

    “So if I had to label Obama, I would call him a pragmatic progressive consequentialist: he wants to improve things and shift the state of public policy to the Left. That means things like increased redistribution to the poor, increased emphasis on issues of social justice, government direction of the economy towards preferred social aims, etc.”
    So, a social democrat? Maybe?

    Also, thanks for extending this conversation! One of my favorite things around these parts.Report