Welcome to covering Jeb Bush, David Gregory.
On Sunday, the Meet The Press host learned that if you ask the former Florida governor a political-gossip question that attempts to pit him against a friend, he’ll parry and thrust.
To call Bush’s smile icy would be too warm a description.
The exchange is vintage Bush. Ask any reporter who covered Bush on the campaign trail or in political office. Or ask any staffer who worked for him in either capacity. Bush challenges.
Bush has an approach-avoidance conflict with reporters: He seems to enjoy give-and-take, but he has a measure of disdain for many of us, especially political reporters, seen by Bush as purveyors of empty-calorie journalism. Bush has fashioned himself as a policy guy, someone who made major changes to education, proposed a mammoth Medicaid reform plan (in 2005 before it was sexy) and now is trying to tackle immigration.
Yes, politics imbues policy. But he’s getting a little weary of the media’s focus on his presidential ambitions and his friendship with Rubio.
He’s probably just plain weary as well. He did all five television news shows Sunday, and spent the previous week on the road. Along the way, he has reversed and reversed himself on one immigration policy topic — a path to residency vs. a path to citizenship — that has left him a bit peevish.
Bush wants to talk about his book, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution, which I write about on today’s front page. In some ways, he’s having it both ways, parlaying his political brand into high-profile interviews about his book while discounting the importance of politics.
Late last week, when I asked whether the controversy was a good way to sell books, Bush laughed.
“I don’t think,” he chuckled. “I’d volunteer for it not to have happened, if I had my way. . . . In Washington, it seems, everybody assumes there’s a political motivation to everything. And not understanding that, I accept responsibility for it. Is it a big deal? No.”
That’s vintage Bush.