The father has been talked about, and will continue to be talked about, as a potential future president of the United States. And it seems almost inevitable that the son will be as well, though he has yet to be elected to anything.
But, of course, the remarkable facts of Jeb and George P. Bush’s biography and promise are all the more remarkable because Jeb’s father and brother – George P.’s grandfather and uncle – have already served as presidents of the United States, only the second father and son to hold the office after John Adams and John Quincy Adams.
This father-and-son pair of Bushes appeared before a Tuesday dinner gathering at the Texas Business Leadership Council’s Education Summit at Austin’s Four Seasons Hotel. George P. Bush was supposed to introduce Jeb Bush but spoke briefly before passing that privilege to a friend because, he said, “I get emotional when I introduce my father.”
Jeb Bush, considered a pioneer in education reform when governor of Florida, described the lessons of his tenure. Set standards high. Use technology. Demand accountability. Grade schools the way schools grade students. Undo the “governance model of public unionized monopolies.”
“Break the china on this one,” he said.
Have money follow the children. Eliminate tenure. Pay more for better teachers.
“If people get offended, so what? Politics can’t always be mamby-pamby land,” he said.
George, the younger, introduced to the audience as an “asset to our state when he is elected in 2014 to an office to be named later,” promised he will soon decide just which statewide office to pursue.
The Bushes appeared the same day that Democrats unveiled Battleground Texas, an effort to restore the party’s competitiveness in Texas that banks in no small measure on the assumption that as Texas’ voting Hispanic population rises, so too will Democratic fortunes.
George P. Bush is a fortunate Bush son who, in this time and place, is not just a Bush, but a Hispanic – his mother, Columba, Mexican-born. He is at once a scion of privilege and an avatar of a people rising.
He recently told an audience in Addison that Republicans “need not sell out our principles to win the Hispanic vote.” Education is an issue that crosses all lines and is, he said, the most pressing issue facing the nation.
After his speech, Jeb Bush said he thought America’s changing demography was a “wonderful” thing that his party needs to embrace while maintaining conservative values.
Asked whether he had any trepidation about his son running for office, Jeb Bush said, “He knows the ropes; he knows what he’s getting into.”
In his speech, though, he said university scientists are studying why Bushes feel compelled to run for office, and perhaps a cure can be found in time to spare his grandchildren.