If you think Jeb Bush has learned from his disastrous answer last month about invading Iraq, just look at the answer he gave on Tuesday about the environment and the pope.
Asked by Sean Hannity about Pope Francis’ forthcoming encyclical about climate change, Jeb responded that “I think religion ought to be about making us better as people, less about things [that] end up getting into the political realm.”
Intellectually, morally, and politically, that’s a dumb answer.
First, it blatantly contradicts what Jeb has done and said in the past. In 2009, he told a Catholic conference in Italy that, “As a public leader, one’s faith should guide you. In the United States, many people think you need to keep your faith, put it in a security box, if you’re an elected official — put it in a safety deposit box until you finish your service as a public servant and then you can go get it back. I never felt that was appropriate.” Indeed, he did not. As Florida’s governor, Jeb, driven by his Catholic faith, went to extraordinary lengths—which included pressuring a circuit court judge—to prevent Michael Schiavo from removing a feeding tube from his wife Terri, who was in a persistent vegetative state. While speaking publicly about the Schiavo case, Jeb often held rosary beads. And just last month, at Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University, Jeb even said religion should influence the “political realm” when it comes to climate. “America’s environmental debates,” he declared, “can be too coldly economical, too sterile of life, and you remind us what’s really at stake. Christians see in nature and all its creatures designs grander than any of man’s own devising—the endless, glorious work of the Lord of Life.” Just so long as they don’t try to reduce carbon emissions.