Diane Roberts: ¿Jeb? Bush comes up numb and dumb again

In case there’s anyone left who thinks ¿Jeb? Bush is a fine man running a fine campaign for president, I give you his remarks after the latest mass shooting, this one in Oregon:

“I don’t think that more government is necessarily the answer to this,” he said. “I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It’s just, it’s very sad to see. But I resist the notion – and I did, I had this, this challenge as governor, because we have, look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis and the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”

Under the limp leaves of this tasteless and nutritionally void word salad, lurks something rotten and nasty: “stuff happens.”

Nine people dead – 10, if you count the guy doing the shooting – in America’s latest example of gun violence and ¿Jeb? dismisses it as just one of those things, you know, real sad, but no reason to actually DO anything.

¿Jeb? tried to explain himself, saying that if a kid drowns in a pool, we shouldn’t infringe on “liberty” by passing laws to put a fence around the pool – even though that’s exactly what happens: hotel and club pools must have barriers and other safety features. Why? Because people drowned without them.

We also infringe on “liberty” by making people wear seat belts in cars so they’re not squashed to a bloody pulp in a crash.

Yeah, stuff happens. There’s one gun per person in the United States and, well, some people are just going to get shot.

Still, I’d be careful about quoting Donald Rumsfeld who famously shrugged at the violence and looting in Baghdad in 2003 after we invaded. Not a good memory for most Americans. Not a proud moment.

Forget ¿Jeb? for a minute: Umpqua Community College was the 294th mass shooting this year and the 45th school shooting this year – so far. Only 79 shooting days till Christmas!

As the headline in one distinguished publication put it: “‘No Way to Prevent This’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.” We seem to think “American Exceptionalism” means that, unlike other rich countries, we simply can’t help it if a few of our citizens decide to go mow down a bunch of people in a college or a church or an elementary school or a post office or a movie theater or a military base or a library.

Because, freedom.

Britain, Australia and other advanced nations have drastically reduced gun violence by drastically reducing the number of guns. People can and do hunt in those countries. They can and do shoot varmints. Democracy in Britain, Australia, Sweden, France, Germany, Canada and plenty of other countries is doing fine without the populace being armed to the teeth.

Of course, they’re not hobbled by the Second Amendment, or more accurately, a high court which has chosen to interpret “militia” in a fanciful way. Nor are they plagued with the NRA, that bunch of barrel-stroking chuckleheads who, when they’re not running up arms stock values, are warning that Barack Obama is coming for their guns – ever since he was elected in 2008.

If only Obama were coming for their guns. He’s not. Nobody is. The NRA owns the legislative branch – both parties. A few days after nine people in Charleston were shot to death, Congress extended a 20-year-old ban on federally funded research into gun violence. The Centers for Disease Control long ago discovered that having guns is a public health hazard, but they’re not allowed to collect new data.

Republican candidates are climbing all over each other insisting we should all be packing, you know, in case we need to defend liberty or something. Marco Rubio says there’s nothing wrong with our gun laws: It’s “society.” Carly Fiorina blames Barack Obama for “politicizing” guns.

Donald Trump’s solution? Arm college professors. As a college professor myself, I can tell you that’s a very, very bad idea.

As for ¿Jeb? – he’s coming across like a Gold Medal winner at the Jerk Olympics. He’s a gaffe-o-rama on the campaign trail, insisting we don’t need to spend $500 million on women’s health, and that a “multicultural society” is somehow “unAmerican.”

Memo to Jeb: You’re using “American” to mean Northern European-descended, Anglophone, Christian. America was never so homogeneous as you imagine.

Jeb’s taken to boasting about Florida as a national model. Florida! On Sept.1 he told a bunch of high-schoolers in Miami:

“In Florida, when I was governor, I was the NRA statesman of the year … Charlton Heston gave me a gun on the stage in front of 15,000 people, that was pretty cool to be honest with you. In Florida we believe that concealed weapons permits is a, is a proper thing. We have 1.2 million concealed weapon holders, more than double the next state.”

I’ll bet those high school kids had no clue who this “Charlton Heston” dude was, but hey: We’re No. 1!

Diane Roberts’s book “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America” will be published later this month. She teaches at Florida State University. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Diane Roberts

Diane Roberts teaches at Florida State University. Her latest book, “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America,” will be out in paperback in the fall.



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