By all measures, he had a good run. He cut taxes, cut spending, reformed education, and attracted a lot of business Florida’s way.Since his time in office, he has been barnstorming the country promoting school choice and student/teacher evaluations. He has now written a book about immigration. Some say it is his re-entry into politics – a trial balloon for the presidency. But I do not think it is.
Jeb Bush will not run for president.When he was young and on the campaign trail during that first go-round, he had one rule: he always made it home on Sundays to be with his wife and kids. Often, he had one or more of them with him on the bus. But he always went home.
His two sons came out of those campaigning and governing years seemingly unscathed – they might even be better for it. But his daughter had problems: drugs, fraudulent prescriptions, rehabs.I got to see the anguish of Jeb and his wife firsthand one day in the Governor’s Mansion.
I had not been a part of his first winning campaign as I had become a pastor and eschewed politics. However, I was invited to attend an education conference in Tallahassee that concluded with a reception at the governor’s temporary home. There were snacks and drinks – and a receiving line.As I made my way toward Jeb and Columba, he saw me above the crowd (we’re both well over six feet) and smiled and nodded. He remembered me from the first campaign – the loss that stung.
When I reached him, he greeted me warmly. We quickly caught up. We talked about mutual friends. And then I moved on to the First Lady. She dutifully smiled and shook my hand.I leaned down to her ear (she is well below six feet) – and the pastor in me spoke to her. “Mrs. Bush, I know the troubles your family has been through. I am a recovering addict and I know how difficult it all is. I’m a pastor now and doing very well. If you ever need to talk to someone, please feel free to call.” I handed her a card with my number.
She looked up at me and began to shake. Tears began to fall. She buried her face in my chest.It would normally have been a very private moment, but it was in a very public place.
The governor looked at me quizzically. I mouthed his daughter’s name. He nodded in acknowledgement. I walked Mrs. Bush to an aide. They disappeared into another room. I walked back and quietly apologized to him. He nodded again. I then moved on.Politics can be tough on family.
But that’s not the only reason Jeb won’t run.There’s another Bush that has the “fire in the belly” – Jeb’s son, George P. He’s young and smart and handsome and Hispanic. He’s the heir apparent to the Bush legacy. He’s running for statewide office in Texas. It’s the springboard for bigger things. Of course, it is - it’s Texas.
Jeb will not want to muddy the waters for his son’s future. Too many Bushes spoil the broth.He would have made a pretty good president I believe. He is a strong executive and he has a solid set of principles. He’s good at politics. He would get things accomplished.
But – just as he has been the good son and the good brother – Jeb will now be the good father. And he should be commended for all of that.