by David Safier
Jeb Bush's presidential campaign is off and running with his new book, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution. He's doing the news and talk show circuit, saying No to a path to citizenship, unless an undocumented immigrant wants to go home and start over, and a hesitant Yes to legalized status, with a possibility of citizenship for young people brought here by their families.
The book is co-authored by Clint Bolick, Goldwater Institute's Vice President for Litigation. In the past, G.I. has been more libertarian — more immigration-friendly — than strictly conservative on the immigration issue. (I'll try to dig up statements made the Institute a number of years ago and post them.) G.I. stayed silent during the SB1070 debates. After the controversy died down a bit, G.I. claimed it was because there was disagreement in its ranks. I chalk it up to cowardice. G.I. lives on conservative contributions and it needs conservative legislators to carry its bills, so it decided silence was the safest way to keep its power and influence.
Jeb's connection with the Goldwater folks is nothing new. The previous Education Director, Matthew Ladner, was great friends with Jeb and now works for him at the Foundation for Excellence in Education, one of the conservative "education reform" groups pushing privatization. When he was governor, Florida and Arizona played educational leap frog, using legislation in one state to promote legislation in the other (You'll start with this bill, then I'll start with another bill, then you'll start . . .)
What does this mean? We'll see. It definitely means the Jeb/G.I. connection is worth watching to see the extent to which Jeb leans on Arizona's conservative/libertarian brain trust to craft his policies and strategies.
FLIP-FLOP-HALF-FLIP UPDATE: It looks like Jeb, who was for a path to citizenship before he was against it, is now kinda for it again, if it can be made to, you know, work without, um, encouraging, er, people to come here illegally, though we [cough] need to make sure we . . . Anybody know where I can find that bottle of water Mark Rubio left lying around?