by Derek Newton
In late 1999, I attended a dinner meeting with a few state Senators and the head of a prominent statewide business group who was also a lobbyist and not shy about being a Republican.
At the time we were all learning how political life would change under a Republican Governor. Over dinner, this GOP stalwart made a comment about Jeb Bush that has stuck with me to this day.
He said, "You can't tell a smart boy much."
Jeb Bush is a smart boy. He knows it.
The problem with being a "smart boy," as this Republican operative crystallized, is that they don't listen. They have no need for input. Smart boys have all the answers already. Just ask them.
But only those who think they're smart are smug enough to believe they have nothing to learn. Rejecting facts and informed opinion doesn't make you smart. It makes you a fool.
That's our Governor: equal parts ignorance and arrogance.
But our governor has another character flaw. One he likely owes more to genetics and his pampered upbringing.
Governor Bush, like his older brother, can't admit he's wrong. He doesn't make mistakes or misjudgments. Having all the answers means you can't be wrong. He's clearly above such earthly limitations. Being infallible must one of the benefits of being a smart boy.
Our Governor's special stew of ignorance, arrogance and infallibility have never been more obvious than during the national embarrassment surrounding Terri Schiavo.
Numerous Florida courts, pondering evidence and opinion from both sides, found Terri's loving and supportive husband Michael to be a fit spokesperson for his incapacitated wife.
But Jeb "the omniscient" and other Republicans just knew that couldn't be right. So hearing information from only one side, they sought to discredit and slander Michael Schiavo.
When independent and respected doctors said Terri's condition was severe and beyond repair, Jeb "the soothsayer" and other Republicans just knew that couldn't be right. So disregarding science, they rolled out their own docs to disagree - including one truly bizarre video-tape diagnosis from the floor of the U.S. Senate by Senator Bill Frist.
When Florida courts followed the law and ruled to get government out of family decisions and allow Michael Schiavo to implement his wife's wishes, Jeb "the almighty" and the other Republicans just knew that wasn't right. So they sent the power of big government through armed agents to forcibly take custody of Terri.
This week when another independent, scientific voice confirmed what Michael Schiavo, dozens of doctors and a thorough and judicious consideration of evidence already revealed, Jeb "the clairvoyant" and other Republicans knew this couldn't be right.
So setting sail again on a journey that is certain to crash on the reef of truth, Jeb "the perfect" is seeking another useless investigation into Michael Schiavo. This time he wants to know if Michael Schiavo asked for help in a timely fashion the night of Terri's tragedy.
No doubt that Jeb's latest actions caused many in Florida and around the country to scratch their heads. Some will believe that Jeb "the political" is playing to national Republican conservatives to set himself up to run for President in 2008 - or later.
But the real reason that Jeb "the self-important" can't let this one go is even simpler than that. He can't let this one go because he's Jeb Bush. He already has all the answers. He canâ€™t listen to other opinions. And he can't be wrong.
Doctors, paramedics and police have already testified that Michael Schiavo acted quickly and responsibly that night.
It's someone else's conduct that needs to be investigated - someone who has clearly acted irresponsibly. You get three chances to guess who. But here's a clue: He's a smart boy. And you can't tell him much.