The Arrogance of Jeb Bush

By Egan, Timothy | International New York Times, May 30, 2015 | Go to article overview

The Arrogance of Jeb Bush


Egan, Timothy, International New York Times


He believes the Earth is warming, and that's as far as he'll go, because the issue is "convoluted." But his embrace of science denial will not save him.

You thought he was the smart Bush. You thought he was the reasonable one. You thought he was the Republican with one foot in the 21st century, the man who wasn't going to say crazy things to win the primary voter who believes in crazy things. But you haven't been paying attention to Jeb Bush.

Yes, he was strafed from both sides for his tortured and fact- challenged explanations of the Iraq war. The fumbling is understandable: Bound by family fealty, the fraternal load of the biggest foreign policy debacle of our time, Jeb Bush can't state the obvious.

But an equally astounding, and perhaps more absurd utterance, has not received nearly as much attention: his climate change stance. Bush the youngest believes the Earth is warming. No doubt, he's willing to go further out on a limb and conclude that heat expands, cold contracts and a dolphin is not a fish.

That's as far as he'll go. He says the science is "convoluted," even though the latest assessment from international climate scientists states with 95 percent confidence that humans are the cause of a sick planet. That obfuscation is also understandable. You simply cannot be a leader of the Republican Party without appearing to know less than a fifth grader about earth science.

The real stunner was a statement made earlier this month at a campaign event. What bothers him is not the threat of megastorms, life-killing droughts, city-burying sea rises -- but experts in the scientific community who are sounding such alarms. Those people.

"And for the people to say the science is decided on, this is just really arrogant, to be honest with you," said Bush. "It's this intellectual arrogance that now you can't have a conversation about it even."

Is it arrogant to say that smoking causes lung cancer? That you shouldn't text and drive? That the American diet and lifestyle cause Type 2 diabetes, which is killing people? There is some wiggle room in each of those assertions. But you test them at your peril. Since when did prudence become a vice in a family whose presidential patriarch was guided by what "wouldn't be prudent"?

In that sense, Jeb Bush is the living example of another bit of truthiness from science: Evolution does not always mean advancement.

In fables, in biblical parables, in history lessons mostly forgotten, a single theme repeats itself: It's arrogant to defy nature.

Arrogance is thinking you can build subdivisions in a flood plain, because everyone around you is doing it.

Arrogance is putting a shopping center over an earthquake fault, knowing full well that the collapse could kill hundreds of people.

Arrogance is paving the sponge of land that normally holds water during epic rain events, thinking there will be no consequence. …

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