Every operation that expects to succeed needs a person who speaks the painful truth to power at great personal or professional risk.

Last week, Jeb Bush, the son of one former president and the brother of another, uttered publicly what many others have wrestled with privately. In his estimation, today’s Republican Party has become so ideologically entrenched that even Ronald Reagan, the party’s most revered modern standard-bearer, and Bush’s own father, George H.W. Bush, would have found themselves cast into the party’s wilderness.

It’s a bold and honest challenge to the GOP’s lack of self-awareness. Soon after Bush’s comments, the blogosphere erupted with epithets labeling Bush as a RINO, Republican in Name Only, and otherwise dismissing his analysis.

The former Florida governor spoke the truth, however, even though many in his party don’t want to hear it. Both Reagan and the elder Bush held conservative philosophies but also valued progress over gridlock.

Neither rigidly embraced “an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement, doesn’t allow for finding some common ground,” Jeb Bush said. “Back to my dad’s time and Ronald Reagan’s time — they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan support.”

Reagan today “would be criticized for doing the things that he did.”

Jeb Bush has issued an important challenge to the GOP’s entrenched refusal to find common ground across party lines, even if the scolding comes from a man who displayed similar intransigence as governor.

Bipartisanship has become a curse word that one doesn’t dare whisper publicly for fear of political retribution.

As Bush later added, political intransigence isn’t just a Republican problem. The stalemate is not good for either political party or, more important, for the nation because pragmatic bipartisan solutions to pressing needs such as immigration, tax reform, the deficit and the economy are shelved while birther debates and theatrical sideshows suck all the air out of the room.

The former governor had earlier ignited a firestorm when he told a congressional committee that he could back a theoretical deficit-reduction package of a dollar in tax revenue increases in exchange for every $10 in spending cuts — a position that Romney and the other GOP candidates have rejected.

That’s Jeb Bush’s point — refusing to declare victory when you get 90 percent of what you want isn’t pragmatic leadership.

Likewise, on immigration, Bush warned that it’s not enough for party leadership to “talk about Hispanics and say immediately we must have controlled borders. … I think we need to have a broader approach.”

Jeb Bush gets it. True leaders don’t sling red-meat, hyperpartisan talking points but rather work together to find common-sense solutions.

Editorial by the Dallas Morning News


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