Make no mistake. Americans do love their royalty. Our founding fathers may have given the finger to the royals in England, but generations later the monarchy still rules. The lack of an official king and queen has only allowed the American public to anoint several unofficial royal lines instead. As much as Americans extol the virtues of hard work, most of us probably would have preferred the silver spoon route. Work is fine, but really, wasn't leaving the womb hard enough? For some lucky sperm, the birth canal is the last tight spot they'll have to find their way out of. Like the Kennedys and the Rockefellers, the Bush clan is a monument to unearned privilege and power, but they've distinguished themselves with their capacity for denial.
Gov. Jeb Bush has said that after college, he was on his own financially and made his own way through his own hard work. So what if that "hard work" was for his father's campaign, and for corporations run by his father's friends. While working at IntrAmerica Investments, a real estate development firm owned by Bush Sr. supporter Armando Codina, Bush's salary jumped six figures in about six years. He has said his family name wasn't an advantage but spent much of his career wooing clients who wanted to get next to his family. He was cut in on investment deals, even though he didn't actually have any cash to invest, and he walked away from scandals involving attempts to defraud the U.S. government, claiming that he wasn't a fraud but a dupe. Only he knows which is true, but it's clear that if he hadn't used his family connections to do favors for his wealthy comrades, some of the scandals wouldn't have happened. When developer Hiram Martinez Jr. requested $18-million in federal loan insurance for an apartment development in 1985, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development questioned its land value and delayed the request. Rather than allow HUD to do its job, Bush wrote a letter to the U.S. agency's undersecretary on Martinez's behalf. The loan was approved, the land values were inflated and Martinez got six years in prison on fraud charges. Bush has amnesia about the letter. Later he made a call to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help another associate looking to get out of following some pesky federal rules.
Bush denies that he received special treatment in both of those incidents, but any citizen who's dealt with either agency knows that's not true. It's pretty damn special to have a top manager take your call, instead of getting a clerk who transfers your call or tells you to fill out forms.
It's his denial that makes Bush an ineffective governor. It's not possible to see why minorities would need affirmative action when you refuse to see that alumni and legacy admissions are a form of affirmative action too. It's easy to focus on punishment rather than rehabilitation when you've never had to be accountable for your own questionable dealings. Recognizing every citizen's right to vote is harder when you really believe that the only rights that count are yours.
Bush has had four years to prove that he's more than just the product of the lucky sperm club instead he's proven that ego and privilege are a costly mix. Bush may have been "to the manor born," but the governor's mansion belongs to the people. Here are 10 reasons to kick him out.
1. He's Not Stupid, But He Thinks Voters Are
Much has been made of a reporter catching Gov. Jeb Bush showing one face in public and another when he thinks he's safely in his inner sanctum. This is called politics, and it's nothing new. But Bush wasn't just strategizing or playing politics when he made light of a serious issue — a missing human being that was in the state's care. Referring to gossip about the ongoing criminal investigation as "juicy" isn't a misstatement; it's a character flaw. Telling Republican legislatures that the two women arrested in the case may be lesbians because one referred to the other as the "wife" is irrelevant information if your real interest is finding a child. Bush should be completely torn up about the hundreds of missing children that disappeared on his watch, both in public and in private. How can he be expected to take the task of fixing the system seriously if he doesn't sincerely care about the tragic consequences of doing nothing?
People who make racist or homophobic comments only in private are still racists and homophobes; there's no such thing as a part-time bigot. The Nixon tapes have shown that private bigotry becomes public policy, whether voters know it or not. Bush may genuinely feel that the class-size amendment is a mistake and he's entitled to make his case. But his saying that he's concocting "devious" plans to undermine it if it passes shows a genuine disregard for democracy.