Paul Waldman writing at the Washington Post is right. Jeb Bush’s biggest problem should he run for President isn’t his last name, it’s the position he has taken on several issues. The one that pertains to this site and our readers would be, obviously, his role as a cheerleader and apologist for the Common Core State Standards.
The issue of Common Core education standards could also become a millstone around a Bush candidacy. While most Republicans had probably barely heard of Common Core a year or two ago, it has quickly become a symbolic issue of deep importance, representing government overreach and Obama/Swedish-style social engineering, and possibly a takeover of American sovereignty by the U.N. Opposition to Common Core is becoming part of what it means to be a contemporary Republican with national ambitions.
And Jeb Bush isn’t just an advocate of Common Core, he actually heads up not one but two organizations — the Foundation for Excellence in Education and Conservatives for Higher Standards — devoted to advocating for the standards. This is obviously an issue he cares deeply about, and he could no doubt talk any Republican voter’s ear off about it. But in the end, all they’ll hear is that Bush supports that Obama federal education takeover thing (even though Common Core is not a federal government initiative; its prime mover has been the National Governor’s Association).
Where Waldman is wrong here, however, is that that it could become a millstone. It will be a millstone. Republicans in early caucus and primary states will be looking for daylight between the candidates on the issues, and one’s position on the Common Core could provide some daylight. It’s no accident that Bush is distancing himself from the Common Core in fundraising letters, etc.
Waldman also demonstrates that he doesn’t understand mainstream opposition against the Common Core and wants to paint it as fringe. Those who paint this as an entirely partisan and fringe issue has not been paying attention and are quite simply ignorant. However, regardless of a voter’s reason for opposing Common Core, it’s unlikely his past on this issue will help him.
The Common Core IS a millstone for Republicans looking to run in 2016 if they are on the wrong side of the issue.