Stateside,  Vote 2016

Jeb. Jeb. Jeb.

Excuse the lack of exclamation points, but is anyone really excited about the entry of John Ellis Bush (the presumed frontrunner) into the contest for the Republican nomination for president in 2016?

In fact the campaign itself seems to recognize the enthusiasm problem by adding its own exclamation point to the candidate’s logo.

Surveying random comments threads about Bush at The Washington Post, they seem to be evenly split between people who can’t stand him and people who engage in anti-Hillary whataboutery. I wonder even how many Republicans are genuinely stoked about him joining the race. Almost nobody has anything positive to say about him, aside from the fact that he is not a Democrat, not Barack Obama and not Hillary Clinton. If you feel inclined to praise Jeb qua Jeb, please do so.

It recently was reported that Bush co-wrote a book in 1994 about, among other things, the value of public shaming.

“Society needs to relearn the art of public and private disapproval and how to make those who engage in undesirable behavior feel some sense of shame,” Bush writes.

The book argues that the diminishment of dishonor has contributed to all sorts of depravity. If only we as a populace were a bit more judgmental, the poor would stop being so poor, the promiscuous would learn restraint, deadbeats would pay their bills, criminals would keep to the straight and narrow, school shooters would lay down their arms and bastard children would finally start getting “legitimize[d]” (their term, not mine) through marriage.

To contrast today’s shamefully shameless culture with the past, the book waxes wistful about ye olden times: “There was a time when neighbors and communities would frown on out-of-wedlock births and when public condemnation was enough of a stimulus for one to be careful. Infamous shotgun weddings and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter are reminders that public condemnation of irresponsible sexual behavior has strong historical roots.”

When I read The Scarlet Letter in high school, I vaguely remember thinking, “What a horrible way to treat a woman who gave birth out of wedlock.” Apparently Jeb read the same book and thought, “Forcing a woman who gave birth out of wedlock to wear a scarlet ‘A’? What a cool idea!”

As governor of Florida, Bush failed to veto the “Scarlet Letter Law” passed by the legislature, which required single women to publish information on their past sexual partners in a newspaper before they could put children up for adoption. The law was repealed after being struck down as unconstitutional.

Bush says his views on shaming of unmarried mothers have “evolved.”

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