Jeb! and “Earned Success”

Here we go again.

At a recent campaign event in South Carolina, Jeb Bush was asked how he planned to include black people in his campaign and how he would appeal to black voters.

Bush responded, “Our message is one of hope and aspiration.” But–as Charles Blow noted in a recent column in the New York Times— he didn’t stop there. He continued: “It isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting — that says you can achieve earned success.”

Shades of Mitch Romney, his “makers” and “takers” and 47 percenters!

As Blow noted, this was not one of the unforced errors we’ve come to expect from “Jeb!” (And I thought he was supposed to be the smart one…)

And this is not some one-time slip of the tongue for Bush. In Bush’s book written two decades ago, “Profiles in Character,” he wrote: “Since the 1960s, the politics of victimization has steadily intensified. Being a victim gives rise to certain entitlements, benefits, and preferences in society. The surest way to get something in today’s society is to elevate one’s status to that of the oppressed. Many of the modern victim movements — the gay rights movement, the feminist movement, the black empowerment movement — have attempted to get people to view themselves as part of a smaller group deserving of something from society. It is a major deviation from the society envisioned by Martin Luther King, who would have had people judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin — or sexual preference or gender or ethnicity.”

What is it about privileged people that makes it so difficult for them to look at their fellow humans and see fellow humans? What makes them unable to see the systemic issues–economic downturns, jobs paying less than living wages, overt and structural discrimination–that disadvantage some people?

What is it about less fortunate people that elicits these sneering, patronizing stereotypes, rather than efforts to understand–let alone remedy–those systemic constraints?

What special kind of cluelessness makes a man born to wealth and privilege consider his own condition “earned success” that anyone might achieve?


  1. As a great Texan once quipped
    “He was born on third base…and thought he hit a triple “

  2. My personal “earned success” comes from doing without and surviving on barely above federal poverty level income. I drive a 19 year old car, I have been unable to paint inside the home I bought 10 1/2 years ago because I have had to spend almost $14,000 on plumbing repairs (mostly sewer repair and replacement and yes, I paid for an inspection prior to buying). So I have the “earned success” of stopping sewer backups of you-know-what into my basement (I hope) but live in tacky (but clean) surroundings. My 19 year old car leaks more than my 78 year old body but it is still running – so am I but at a lurching, much slower speed. I did not ask to become disabled at age 57, nor did I cause the disability…I learned to live with it and the low income. Bush’s (all of them) “earned income” is the result of being born to wealth and the power that wealth buys them. Let’s prevent Brother Jeb from buying the White House back from the Democrats with his reality blind, privileged position!

    To quote the late-great Yogi Berra, “A nickle isn’t worth a dime anymore.” Inflation and the depleted economy keeps most of us from moving forward; maintaining the status quo has become “earned success” for most Americans.

  3. What makes parasites not see the systemic issues and meaningful solutions, is they are being paid not too. Via layers of inherent conflicts of interest, by creating the problems and/or looking the other way, they benefit, and while they message working together, they take take take. This special kind of “cluelessness” is fueled by Greed, Ego, abuse of Power, which has become an epidemic, compounded with unregulated use of our public offices for private unjust gains. Some times they call it Capitalism or trickle down however, this has been morfed into Cronyism, being pissed on, or more accurately infected with layers of FRAUDS. The solutions start with people who know better, holding accountable the local authorities doing the bidding, who set the charade up, and then look the other way, and ensure the self dealing advisors, quasi governmental non profits, and their far too closely affiliated corporate sponsors are enabled to do the force down so this collective joint enterprise can take the unjust gains. The solutions to this special kind of stupid, starts with holding accountable our local liars club.

  4. People born into wealth and power possess the strongest sense of entitlement that exists.

  5. While it’s easy and fun to make fun of people like Jeb who have been deprived of all of the lessons that hard necessary work teaches us, they really are as empty as their talk. And it’s not just the born rich like Jeb but the born privileged like many of you and I. Born on a paved road to success.

    It is easy to pretend that the country would be successful if we just ignored those born on rutted dirt roads – cut them lose and let them just live in the urban swamps of their ancestors making. Many countries called third world banana republics do exactly that.

    But we have always wanted to be exceptional. And that takes the development and investment of all of our human capital and the elevation of the masses to the positions of consumers and voters through the magic of capitalism and democracy.

    Jeb and Romney and the other oligarchs don’t need any more, they can coast through their remaining obligations without creating anything more. Their dreams of exceptionalism are satisfied by their personal economic girth. Let the riff raff fend for themselves in the form of a sort of dog fighting. Make money on the most vicious.

    In the Revolution we declared our freedom from such thinking. We became America home of the downtrodden and we built the infrastructure for their escape from their beginnings.

    We can still be America but another revolution is required. Our return to our working roots. Let our budding aristocracy fend for them selves. Let them eat money.

  6. In spite of all of the above, Jeb, Trump still have political appeal. This is what I find most mysterious – people in need of a systematic change willfully support those who promise to do the least to provide the opportunity they need.

  7. So says another welfare queen. This family is living off the largess that only corruption can provide. It used to be war profiteering was a crime. Now it gives you access to the highest office.

  8. “What is it about privileged people that makes it so difficult for them to look at their fellow humans and see fellow humans?”

    Maybe they do, but with their garbled expressions (re: Kevin McCarthy) they are seeing them as adjectives rather that nouns, as in “their fellownious humans” ?

  9. Leif: I know others who speak and/or
    write like you but I can’t tell what they
    are driving at either.

    Pete: Don’t stop. You’re on a roll and
    have a following.

  10. Gopper.

    Great example of brand advertising. Think of how seductive that would be if you were a blond thin high school girl and how it would make you feel if you were not.

    It’s like Fox News is for congenital Republicans.

    Of course critically thinking people would see both for what they are, fantasies, but that would be a minority of folks.

  11. Gopper,

    That woman talks like a man or a movie star.

    That’s her brand. Makes her feel powerful. Not weak.

    You have a problem with that brand?

  12. OMG: We have a systemic problem with people who think they are above the rules, who think they can abuse our public offices, lie, break their partnerships, create abusive process, change the rules, and are entitled to rig the game to take from the people who did the work and who paid it forward for all the right reasons. Honest to Goodness, this happens right in front of you in your town hidden for a few fellownious unjust gains. These abusive entitlement epidemic issues simply are not just at the Federal “Presidential” level, or just in Texas. Primarily the takers perfect their frauds at the “local” level, within both political parties, often from people within our communities, people you may look up too however, in reality these un earned privileges have created sociapaths, who feel like “Alphas” as they “Strategically” lie, and set up sequenced fraudulent schemes so they and their cronies can take more unjust gains, by creating more compounding damages.

    Even if you only understand a little of this message, you are right to say OMG! And better, demand to know more, and demand to hold accountable these fraudsters. We need to expose the parasites for what they are, and continue to shine a light on the hidden compounding damages being creating from crony capitalism, and entitled gross greed. We need to keep talking about these abusive powers until everyone understands who these frauds really are, and until there are accountable corrective actions supporting the Imperative Suppotive Services, successes which will create many more successes for us all, not just these takers!

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