When things go south, they go south. Times are changing in ways big and small for Bushworld. This time, it's Jeb who is in retreat.
Seven months before Gov. Jeb Bush leaves office, his chance of leaving a legacy on his signature issue of education has been significantly impaired by state legislators from his own Republican Party.
Two of Mr. Bush's education priorities were voted down by the Legislature last week at the end of this year's session. The constitutional amendments would have reversed a State Supreme Court decision invalidating school vouchers and loosened strict limits on class size.
Six of the Senate's 26 Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the class-size initiative; four did the same against the voucher plan.
Politicians of both parties acknowledge that Mr. Bush's losses marked a change for a Republican-led Legislature that typically fell in line behind the two-term governor.
Newspapers have made much of these setbacks for Mr. Bush. The Orlando Sentinel called them "the biggest defeats of his eight years in office." The Miami Herald said they were "some of the most stinging defeats of his political career." The St. Petersburg Times said, "Florida is entering a period of profound transition: the post-Jeb era."
Democrats are clearly enjoying the moment. "The voucher thing — it's his baby," State Representative Ron L. Greenstein, Democrat of Coconut Creek, said in an interview. "It's a sour note to leave on."
What an interesting world, when the heirarchical Republican politicians begin to think for themselves. Good for them, good for America, and apparently bad for Bushes everywhere. It's been an interesting experiment, this party discipline thing promulgated by DeLay and Rove. Instead of looking at ideas on the merits, we look at them through a strictly partisan prism. Don't talk to Democrats, dont try to compromise, or find what works best. Just do as I say and eiter reap the rewards if you obey, or sleep with the fishes if you don't.
It's entirely possible Americans have had enough of that. Even resisting any Republican achievements in Congress as a political tool between now and November will need to be explained to the American people, or will need the veneer of bipartisanship to fly (the very thing that makes some Democrats loathe Lieberman, as his veneer was used for evil rather than good by TPTB).
But a fresh wind is beginning to blow, and it's in the Republicans' face and at the Democrats' back. It's not necessarily about progressive or conservative politics, it's about making the system work. And every R scandal is another shot at R party discipline. If the Hammer is vulnerable, why should the nails behave the same way ever again?