Just as George W. Bush had to overcome a less-than-savory past on his way to the GOP Presidential nomination in 2000, it now looks like little brother Jeb will have to try and explain a few of his youthful indiscretions, along with some hypocrisy which is already earning him scorn from another likely 2016 Republican contender.
First of all we have the so-called “youthful indiscretion” of smoking marijuana. Bush has previously admitted that he used the drug while a student at Phillips Academy, an ultra-elite private boarding school in Massachusetts. Bush said:
“I drank alcohol and I smoked marijuana when I was at Andover. It was pretty common.”
But a report in the Boston Globe says Bush actually began his experimentation with pot while still in high school, which would seem to contradict his past statements on when his usage of the drug actually began.
Now I will be the first to say that I will never criticize anyone for the use of weed while a young person. I myself indulged in the beneficial substance on more occasions than I can possibly count while a high school senior and later as an undergraduate student. And unlike most politicians, I do not regret that I used marijuana. Instead, I maintain that my romance with pot supplemented the education I received in the classroom. Can I prove that? No, but I’m not running for the highest office in the land, either.
The problem I have with Jeb Bush is twofold: First, his use of a drug when contrasted with the harsh stance he later took as Governor of Florida. Bush consistently urged jail time over rehab for drug offenders while serving as chief executive of the Sunshine State from 1999-2007. And as recently as last year he actively campaigned against a ballot initiative which would have made medical marijuana legal in Florida.
Apparently I share my outrage over Bush’s blatant hypocrisy on the pot issue with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who is likely to face-off against Jeb in 2016 on the path to the GOP nomination. Paul hit Bush with a broadside shot yesterday, saying:
“This is a guy who now admits he smoked marijuana but he wants to put people in jail who do. You would think he’d have a little more understanding, then.”
My second point of contention with Jeb Bush lies in the accusation that he was also a bit of a bully when he was a young man. Former Andover classmates describe Bush as “physically imposing” and say that he often bullied smaller students.
I despise bullies. Always have and always will. I was bullied once while a sophomore in high school and solved the problem by telling the person who was threatening me that if he laid a hand on me I would dedicate my life to getting him back in a much worse way. He ceased his bullying. But I cannot abide anyone who attempts to prey on or terrorize a smaller or weaker associate. And while I realize this was done when Jeb Bush was a young man, I think it speaks volumes to the kind of leader he would be.
Jeb Bush may be the best hope the Republicans have in 2016, but his past actions deserve a full airing. The past, as we learned in our undergrad Shakespeare seminars, is prologue.
This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org