Stew Lilker’s

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Jeb Bush, "Stuff Happens"

Let’s discuss Jeb Bush’s “Stuff happens” comment and his campaign’s reaction to the reaction.

Jeb was in South Carolina, being tossed softballs by the moderator at a conservative gathering. During a discussion about Second Amendment rights, Jeb said, “We’re in a difficult time in our country,” but “I don’t think more government necessarily is the answer to this.” He expounded: “I resist the notion – and I did, I had this, this challenge as governor, because we have, look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis, and the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”

Stuff HappensHis comment, coming the day after a gunman killed nine and wounded nine others at an Oregon community college, provoked a swift response from South Florida U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is chairman of the Democratic National Committee. She tweeted:

“A message to Jeb Bush: 380 Americans have been killed in 294 mass shootings in 2015 alone. ‘Stuff’ doesn’t just ‘happen.’ Inaction happens.”

In response to that and other mounting criticism, the Bush campaign said:

“It is sad and beyond craven that liberal Democrats, aided and abetted by some in the national media, would dishonestly take Governor Bush’s comments out of context in a cheap attempt to advance their political campaign in the wake of a tragedy.”

The Bush campaign’s claim is that Jeb’s remarks were not related to the Oregon massacre.

The “out of context” excuse is getting old from Jeb. It’s particularly thin in this case. Did he really think he could talk about gun rights the day after a horrific attack and then claim his remarks were unconnected to that attack?

What really happened is that Jeb, yet again, said something stupid.

Also getting old is the claim that, when “liberals” talk about gun control after a mass killing, they are somehow “exploiting a tragedy.”

So we’re all supposed to just shut up when these things keep happening? No doubt the NRA and politicians like Jeb living uncomfortably in its pocket would like to ignore the bloody events that have become so embarrassing to them (or would, if they were capable of being embarrassed). But these murders are something that need to be discussed in the political arena.

Certainly the pro-gun folks are discussing them. Yet again the Florida Legislature will debate whether to allow guns on campus. Is that “exploiting a tragedy”?

In his discussion the day after the Oregon shooting, Jeb wasn’t “exploiting.” But he was pandering – and doing it in a singularly clumsy manner. It isn’t the news media that fail to put Jeb’s comments into context. It’s Jeb who fails to put Jeb’s comments into context.

So here’s a little advice to Jeb on how to deal with questions about the Second Amendment the next time there’s a mass shooting – and there is bound to be another one he has to deal with between now and the election, assuming he’s not out of the race quickly:

Before you speak, Jeb, imagine that you are in a room alone with the mother, father, sibling or child of one of the victims. What would you say to them?

Stuff happens?

Jac Wilder VerSteeg is a columnist for The South Florida Sun Sentinel, former deputy editorial page editor for The Palm Beach Post and former editor of Context Florida. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Image by the Observer

This piece was reprinted by the Columbia County Observer with permission or license.

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