David Martosko, the US Political Editor for the DailyMail has gone where Jeb Bush’s handlers wishes he hadn’t:
Jeb Bush, the newest front-runner among Republicans seeking their party’s 2016 presidential nomination, smoked marijuana in high school – an activity he describes as ‘pretty common’ at the tony Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.
He told The Boston Globe in an interview published ahead of Sunday’s edition that ‘I drank alcohol and I smoked marijuana when I was at Andover.’
Both activities were strictly forbidden at the time – and still are – and could have gotten him expelled.
But ‘it was pretty common,’ he insisted.
Bush, once a 6-foot, 4-inch high school senior, Bush was also seen as a bully by some of his classmates, notably one who weighed less than 100 pounds. Another said he was ‘a cigarette smoker and “toker”.’
I guess they knew all this was going to come out at some point and that the needed to get this out-of-the-way. Smoking pot as a young person is no longer a deal breaker in public life and I can’t wait to see if one of his opponents attempts to exploit the story. The bullying accusations are more troublesome.
The Globe interviewed Peter Tibbetts, a Bush contemporary at Andover,who recalled that he had helped Bush bully another student before he himself was kicked out of school for doing drugs.
‘Their target was a short classmate whom they taunted, and then sewed his pajama bottoms so that they were impossible to put on,’ the Globe reports.
Tibbetts said he is remorseful for participating in making ‘cruel’ sport of the smaller kid.
Bush said he doesn’t remember it that way.
‘I don’t believe that is true,” he said, referring to others’ accounts of his alleged bullying.
‘It was 44 years ago and it is not possible for me to remember.’
But his classmates remember.
‘Jeb Bush was large, physically imposing, and traveled in a crowd that was I guess somewhat threatening to an outsider like myself,’ former dormmate Gregg Hamilton said.
‘I saw him as a cigarette smoker and “toker” and someone that was comfortable being in charge of a group. I was small physically, and small at an all-male boarding school [that], at that time, was a bit of a hostile environment for the kids.’
Hamilton recalled the dor, Pemberton Cottage, as a ‘sort of a “Lord of the Flies” situation, at least as I saw it.’
Small wonder that Bush favors Common Core and it’s extraction of classics in favor of informational texts.
Still, Bush must realize that he is facing a new reality now. Getting this stuff out was the easy part. As Donald Trump, obviously not a Bushie, quipped “Jeb put out the least of his substance issues today.” Clever. It’s fair to wonder how the notoriously prickly Bush will handle such criticism now.
With respect to his powerful education activism, Bush is rarely interviewed, and when he does its by a friendly journalist. For the most part, he’s let spokespersons from his foundations do his speaking for him. With the exception of school choice, Bush’s education reform is under fire by members of his own party. High-stakes testing is under fire and being walked back. Common Core is toxic. He can’t hide behind his flacks anymore.