Saturday, August 15, 2015

Jeb's Amnesia

Jeb Bush has developed selective amnesia. It's unfortunate, because the thing that has vanished from his memory used to be near and dear to his heart-- the Common Core.

There was a time when it looked like Bush 3.0 would be the only one to stay true to the cause, but in the end, his Presidential aspirations and his Common Core commitment created such violent cognitive dissonance that his brain just spit the Common Core chunks right out of his head.

I first noticed it in New Hampshire. While vacationing, I ended up watching the August 3 New Hampshire GOP Candidate Beauty Pageant. It was about the most non-hostile venue the candidates could hope for, with balls lobbed so soft that they could have been written by the candidates' staffs. The closest thing to confrontation was when the interviewer gently prodded Carly Fiorina to answer the question she had just ignored (spoiler alert: she didn't). The closest thing to genuinely fun moment was when the interviewer offered Rick Perry a do-over on eliminating three government agencies.

The interviewer asked Jeb Bush, "Would you take a moment to tell us the new talking point you're going to use to try to get the stink of Common Core off of you?" (I'm paraphrasing.) The questionish intro to Bush's talking point ended with, "Should state and local school boards reject any so-called national standards?" (You can watch for yourself here at about the 2:01 mark)

They should. They should. States ought to create standards. They should be high. They should be state-driven and locally implemented. The federal government should have no role in the creation of standards. No role in the creation directly or indirectly, no role in the creation of content or curriculum. 

He goes on to say that the feds should hand over money without any strings attached and references how Bobby Jindal wants to do all these cool things but the feds say he has to spend Title I money on poor people.

Bush has been using this mantra on the campaign trail as recently as yesterday, along with a somewhat frustrated complaint that he doesn't even know what Common Core means any more.

The frustration over nomenclature is a sort of evolution. Back in May, while he was still defending the Core in an interview with Megyn Kelly, he conceded, "Common Core means a lot of things to different people, so they could be right based on what's in front of them." He's not wrong-- the term Common Core has become so mushy as to be meaningless.

But as Mercedes Schneider points out, Bush has still managed to do a lot of forgetting, including the forgetting of how he conned ALEC into turning from Core opponents into Core fans.

And in his plea that he just wants higher standards developed on the state level, he's forgotten a few other things. He might want to consult the Foundation for Excellence in Education, the organization he used to scale his educational policies up from Florida level to national level. Poor FEE-- they spent all those years getting ready to help Jeb ride straight to the White House, and now he doesn't even know their name. But there they sit-- an ongoing record of what Bush's ideas about education reform used to be, before the amnesia struck.

To build an American education system that equips every child to achieve his or her God-given potential.  

That's their stated goal-- a national education system. And that national education system is needed, in part, to protect our country because national education is important for national security (Joel Klein helped whip up that classic report). But Bush isn't talking about that any more.

Bush is also not talking about comparing schools across state lines or making it easy for students to move from school to school. He is certainly not talking about how much help he provided the feds in selling the Core.

There has been no politician who has worked as hard and tirelessly for the Core as Jeb has, and in an odd way I could at least respect him for having convictions. But being trapped in a clown car with a crowded GOP field has apparently washed those convictions right out of his brain. What remains to be seen is if the voters' memories are as malleable as Bush's own.


  1. Is lying/selective memory/amnesia a genetic trait or a learned behavior? W.'s mission was accomplished, there was no torture, ISIS is Obama's fault, as is the cratering of the economy in 2008. H.W., while head of the CIA, lied about funneling proceeds from the sale of weapons to Iran to the Contras in Nicaragua in violation of the Boland Amendment. Neil and the Silverado Savings and Loan scam. Jeb and Terri Schiavo because religion.

    Enough Shrubs already.