The prospect of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush running as the Republican Party nominee in 2016 has angered and distressed a great number of conservative voters, prompting a loud and passionate debate about the future of the party.
And it makes sense: Contrary to the narrative that the Tea Party was established purely in opposition to President Barack Obama, the limited government movement was born largely out of opposition to the big spending habits of people like Jeb's brother, former President George W. Bush.
Fearing more of the same, many Tea Party and right-of-center types have expressed opposition to a possible Jeb Bush candidacy.
But something unfortunate is happening: Anger directed at Jeb Bush from far-right activists on social media is reaching fever pitch, much of it bordering on the absurd.
For example, consider this monstrously silly Image:
Look, it's no secret that most Americans want Congress to get to the bottom of what really happened on Sept. 11, 2012, when U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, were attacked by terrorists.
Four Americans died, the circumstances surrounding their deaths still clouded by the false narrative initially pushed by the Obama administration in the wake of the attack. White House officials have been defensive, State Department officials unhelpful.
But fringe activists and their ham-fisted attempts to bring attention to the scandal have likely set back good faith efforts to do just that.
And it appears that much of the same is being done in the debate over Jeb Bush. It is becoming damn near impossible to have a productive conversation about whether the former Florida governor would be a good or bad candidate because, much like Benghazi, angry activists have flooded the discussion with absurdity and hyperbole.
It's not entirely clear who created the Image, but it speaks to the overall point about the growing furor against a possible Jeb Bush run (yes, the picture is just one data point, but bear with me). Go to Facebook, Twitter or any number of hard right news sites and you'll see more of the same: Activists really don't like Jeb Bush.
And this is all on top of conservative radio hosts, including Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham, who have also voiced strong opposition to Jeb Bush getting into the 2016 race.
And that's fine. That's healthy.
But let's also do this: Instead of lumping Jeb Bush in with the people who oversaw the Benghazi debacle, if that is in fact what Photoshop wizard was aiming for when he made the above Image, why not just go over the former governor's record?
Jeb Bush is a card-carrying member of the so-called “compassionate conservative” wing of the GOP. He's well-spoken, but perhaps not plain spoken enough to sell it on the national stage. He's a moderate on several issues and probably not fiscally conservative enough to satisfy the deficit hawks. He's in favor of immediate immigration reform, a huge drawback for many conservatives, but he has a decent record on pro-life issues.
And here's the best part: None of this really matters because Jeb Bush probably won’t run in 2016.
His wife hates politics and he’s likely smart enough to realize that the Bush name is still politically toxic. If Bush does make a run for it come election time, then conservatives should re-visit where he stands of issues. Look at his record and rigorously debate it.
Until then, maybe dial it back a notch, put away the memes and focus on issues that will actually matter (i.e. the November midterm elections).
Oh, also, as a final aside to the Benghazi Photoshop crowd, a public service announcement from me to you: Stop using Images of the late Ambassador Christopher Stevens' corpse for your politically charged memes.
Just stop it.
It wins no one over, it’s tasteless and it’s disrespectful to the friends and families of the deceased.