Jeb Bush is making sense

The former governor expresses concern about the Republican Party's trouble appealing to Hispanics

Published July 8, 2009 4:25PM (EDT)

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush remains cursed by his last name: He's always seemed smarter and more politically savvy than his brother, and were it not for the stigma of the second Bush administration, he'd be one of the GOP's leading lights right now, if not its presidential candidate last year. And he's still able to diagnose one of his party's biggest problems right now.

Speaking to Tucker Carlson about the current state of the Republican Party for an interview published in Esquire, Bush put his finger on the single issue that could end up crippling the GOP to come, the lack of Hispanic support and the active denigration of Hispanics by some of the louder voices on the right.

"The people that are on television are the loudest on the immigration issue. The emotion, the anger, is a signal. Put aside the substance, but just in terms of the language. It makes it sound like them and us. And the evidence is that after [the GOP] making major inroads, Hispanics have turned toward the Democratic party in the last two election cycles. Big time. Compare that to how my brother did and how I did and how other Republican candidates have done in the past and you can see a trend line that's quite disturbing," Bush said.

Then asked by Carlson if you can be against illegal immigration without coming off as anti-Hispanic, Bush responded, "It's possible but it requires a tone that's different. If you listen to the conversation, it's not just words; it's how they're spoken. It has to be dispassionate, the language. But it hasn't been."

Of course, later in the interview Bush said, "The Democrats have won on tactics. Barack Obama would not have gotten elected if he'd let us in on his secret plan prior to the election." But hey, nobody's perfect. 

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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