Scott McConnell concludes that Jeb Bush has learned nothing from his brother’s failures:
His appearance at Sheldon’s event is an early and important indication. It’s perhaps not decisive, but it is clear that he has concluded there’s nothing wrong, politically or morally, with paying homage to a loyal-to-Israel warmonger. For all those who might have hoped Jeb had learned something useful from the failed presidency of his brother, it’s a pretty clear indication. Most probably, he has not.
That’s true. The more dispiriting news from the recent “suck-up fest” in Las Vegas is that the same is true of virtually all Republicans with any interest in running for president. The GOP over the last few years has gone from being a reflexively hawkish “pro-Israel” party during the Bush years to being one that eagerly caters to the most fanatical kinds of “pro-Israel” views without even trying to pretend otherwise. It has gone from being almost completely uncritical in its support for hard-line Israeli policies to becoming a party dominated by mindless yes-men on anything related to the country. Even George W. Bush could bring himself to say the phrase “occupied territories” at the start of his presidency, but now that is something that aspiring Republican candidates are apparently not permitted to say if they don’t want to be perceived as lacking in “pro-Israel” zeal. Bush at least feigned interest in a two-state solution, but it seems less and less likely that most of the potential 2016 candidates will even bother paying the idea lip service.
To some extent, this can be explained by the desire to appear more hawkish than the administration, which requires Republican politicians to take increasingly hard-line positions in order to attack Obama for “weakness.” Another factor is the near-unanimity in conservative media in favor of a “pro-Israel” hawkish line on Iran, Palestine, and any other related issues. Uncritical support is simply taken for granted, and becomes a litmus test for maintaining one’s standing on the right. Most of the 2012 candidates were climbing over one another in their eagerness to express just how total and undying their devotion was. Whatever the reasons may be, the Republican Party has become far more uniform and intense in its “pro-Israel” views than it used to be, and it is becoming this way at the same time that the country as a whole is becoming much less so.