Most of what I remember of George Bush Sr. was that he puked on a Japanese ambassador and comically lied to America about raising taxes.
Then he lost his re-election bid.
Who knew he would spawn a bizarro Kennedy-like brood –one that seems to stretch into a ceaseless horizon of terrifying political possibilities. They love Jesus and warfare. And they aren’t going anywhere.
I was surprised to see that someone nicknamed “Jeb Jr.” would be speaking at a gathering of the Biscayne Bay Young Republicans. I went to my first meeting of the group about four months ago hoping to encounter a band of oddball ideologues. Instead, I found a gathering of rather reasonable and mild people who were more interested in the science of winning and losing an election than touting any crazy right-wing agenda.
They were all quite nice.
The meeting held last night took place at Bernie Kosar’s Steak House in South Miami. Bernie was there, in a t-shirt and a checkered sport coat, shaking people’s hands at the mahogany bar.
I briefly spoke with Jose Flores, the slickly dressed chief officer in Rudy Giuliani’s campaign in Florida. He spoke well about why Giuliani is the most electable Republican on the ticket. His apparent role was to keep an eye on the namesake speaker. The Mexican-American Bush 3.0 stood quietly against the wall, chatting in a blue button up shirt and dark slacks.
Young Jeb was born just around the corner at South Miami Hospital and was freshly back from his studies at the University of Texas.
When drinks were done, I took my seat at a long table right next to Jeb Jr. He stood up and told everyone he was 23 years old and that he had just finished his major in political science with a minor in Spanish. “But my Spanish is terrible,” he said. A few people laughed.
I whipped out my notebook, which seemed to make him nervous. And rightly so. Here are my favorite quotes:
1) “We really haven’t had a good immigration system since the beginning.”
2) “Hillary Clinton…she scares the heck out of me.”
3) “Remember [Rudy’s] a Regan man.”
4) “[Rudy’s] not gon’ accept a Raul Regime. Not gon’ do it…whoops, sorry.”
A pamphlet was handed out containing Rudy Giuliani’s 12 promises to America. The first read: I will keep America on the offense in the Terrorists’ War on Us.
I spent five minutes musing at the brilliant use of capitalization and cute rhetoric. “War on Us” sounds kinda fun, like “Toys R’ Us.”
I decided to make myself unpopular in the room by asking whether creating an endless battlefield in the Middle East would make us any safer.
Jeb Jr. said that Rudy would make it a priority to “fight the battle over there.” Some people clapped. He added, awkwardly, that “we’re taking part in a war that’s been going on for centuries” and that “it’s not going to go away by itself.”
He then called Rudy “the Hillary Killer.”
There was a lot of talk about building a border fence, making every immigrant in the country carry a “biometric, tamper-proof, identification card,” privatizing social security and legalizing marijuana –just kidding about that last part.
A middle school teacher named Andrea asked that he not cut taxes. “As a teacher, I see the trickle-down affect of cutting taxes every day,” she said. She suggested, instead, that we abolish welfare entirely.
The magic word, that night, seemed to be “cut.”
After a while, I asked again about the war. I pointed out that we’ve spent billions creating a nightmare in Iraq where most educated, reasonable people have opted to flee to Syrian refugee camps. I asked if Rudy had any plan, objective or time line about how much money and military might we are going to pour into Iraq.
It did not go over well.
Several scoffed at the nature of the question. “Even the New York Times has admitted that we’ve turned a corner,” one man shouted.
Jeb Jr. seized on the buzzword, time line. “The flaw is in the question,” he said. The word “time line” was totally unacceptable. We would stay in Iraq for as long as it takes.
“Was there a time line in World War II?” barked another middle school teacher. He spoke from his diaphragm and seemed incensed. His name was Richard Webster, he teaches journalism and history at the same middle school as Andrea.
“This has been one of the most successful wars in the history of this country,” Webster boomed over a plate of bacon-wrapped shrimp. “In the history of mankind!”
Webster pointed out that we lost the same amount of men during the six years of this war as we did in the assaults on the beaches at Normandy. “This war has been managed brilliantly, except for a bunch of bums. I could bring an Uzi in here and kill everyone in here –that doesn’t make me a military tactician. We took control of Iraq in two weeks,” Webster said.
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Andrea, who wants to abolish welfare, added that we should spend as much as it takes, whatever it takes. She also added, “The media is the first thing that needs to go when it comes to war.”
Everyone, even the lone Christian conservative, seemed to agree on that.
So I left to take a long piss. And who did I run into but Bernie Kosar. He was washing his hands at the sink and offered a friendly hello. I asked him what he thought of Jeb Jr. and he smiled. “I’m biased,” he said.
He first made contact with the Bush family line on Key Biscayne, back when George Sr. was running as a vice president. He’s watched them all grow up and do so well. “I think Jeb Jr.’s gonna go the same way,” he said as the door swung open on Jeb Jr. standing in the middle of an empty dining room –his face lit up before a channel nine news camera. --Calvin Godfrey