What Kind of Governor Was Jeb Bush?

The Associated Press claims that Jeb Bush as governor used executive power “aggressively.”

jeb bush

It is always possible that The Associated Press is exaggerating Jeb Bush’s record. But the fact is that George W. Bush was quite aggressive in using executive power, at least compared to earlier presidents. Barack Obama has done far more.

So we need a Republican candidate who is committed to rolling back the damage that has been done to Constitutional government. It is hard to believe that Jeb Bush would do that.

Jeb Bush ended Florida’s affirmative action programs in 1999 with a flourish, issuing an executive order that he said would “transcend the tired debate” about racial preferences.

Some lawmakers grumbled about the first-year governor making such a move without consulting them, and two black legislators staged a 25-hour sit-in at his office to protest. Bush refused to budge.

“We’re doing the people’s work and I’m not going to let anybody, for any reason, stop us from doing that,” he said.

Lawmakers would have to get used to it.

Bush was an aggressive chief executive throughout his tenure as Florida governor, pushing the limits of executive authority, bristling at legislative oversight and willing to work around the courts.

“He doesn’t shy away from the fact that he had a big agenda, and if there was a way to move it along quicker, he would find it,” said Cory Tilley, a Republican consultant who served as Bush’s deputy chief of staff during his first term.

So, if that is how he acted as governor, what would Jeb Bush do with executive authority as President?

[See also, “Jeb Bush on NSA: I Don’t Understand America.”]

The good news is that Bush is directly campaigning against Barack Obama’s use of executive orders, claiming that at least some were lacking Constitutional authorization.

But it is hard to know what to do with promises. Politicians tend to break them.

Furthermore, if relying on executive authority is how Jeb Bush learned to deal with political problems, what are the odds that he is going to deal with these problems in some new way as President?