Florida Democrats have watched with puzzlement as the former governor becomes a spokesman for comity and reconciliation.
Former Governor Jeb Bush has been sounding downright squishy lately, decrying partisan backbiting and waxing poetic about compromise.
He sighed that his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and former President Ronald Reagan would have a "hard time'' fitting into today's Republican Party because they were willing to seek consensus with Democrats. He scoffed at a congressional hearing that he never signed anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist's pledge because you don't "outsource your principles and convictions to other people.'' He lamented "hyperpartisan'' politicians in Washington and called the GOP "shortsighted.''
To the Florida Democrats who clashed with him repeatedly when he served from 1998 to 2006, this is not the Jeb Bush they knew and frequently did not love.
One lawmaker dubbed the headstrong governor "King Jeb'' for his my-way-or-the-highway approach to governing while brandishing strong Republican majorities in both legislative chambers. He tied public-school funding to standardized tests, launched a private-school voucher program. banned affirmative action in state contracts and university admissions, and championed prolonging the life of a severely brain-damaged woman -- all the while igniting partisan firestorms.