Jeb Bush’s strange defense of his immigration flip-flop

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio weren’t the only candidates exposed in last night’s debate as having changed their position on immigration reform. Rubio pointed out that Jeb Bush has also changed his.

Bush’s current position, and the one set forth in a book he wrote (with an eye, surely, towards a presidential run) is that illegal immigrants should have a path to legalization but not to citizenship. But when Sen. Rubio was pushing in the Senate for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, Bush supported this.

Last night, Bush explained his support for a path to citizenship by stating that Rubio asked him to support it. Many a parent must have thought: “If Marco asked you to jump off a cliff, would you do that too?”

Actually, Bush’s response was a good one if, as sometimes seems to be the case, the purpose of his campaign is to destroy Rubio, his one-time protege. But if his purpose is to persuade people that he’d be a good president, Bush response seems almost disqualifying.

Who wants a president who takes the wrong position (by his own current reckoning) on the fundamental issue of citizenship for illegal immigrants because a first-term Senator nearly twenty years his junior asks him to? That doesn’t sound to me like leadership.

Moreover, Bush’s explanation cannot be reconciled with his attacks on Rubio’s fitness for the presidency. Why would anyone defer on immigration to someone who had flip-flopped so fundamentally on the issue, who had abused his GOP-issued credit card, and so forth?

It doesn’t make sense. At this point, it’s not clear that Jeb Bush’s candidacy makes sense either.