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Suddenly, George W. Bush Is a 'Mainstream Republican' at the New York Times

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is attracting lots of media attention Bush for claiming that even conservative hero Ronald Reagan would struggle in today's Republican Party, a Tea Party-infused "orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement." New York Times Political reporter Jim Rutenberg was intrigued: "Jeb Bush Offers Critical Views of Modern Republican Party and Its 'Orthodoxy.'" The online headline to his Tuesday story was more explicitly partisan: "Jeb Bush Questions G.O.P.’s Shift to the Right." A  photo caption of Bush emphasized: "Jeb Bush, pictured here in January, criticized the current state of the Republican party for its strict adherence to ideology."

For the better part of three decades, there has been no more prominent family in Republican politics than the Bushes.

But tough talk about the state of the party on Monday by former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida -- who went so far as to say that Ronald Reagan and his father would have a “hard time” fitting in during this Tea Party era -- exhibited a growing distance between the family, which until not very long ago embodied mainstream Republicanism, and the no-compromise conservative activists now driving the party.

Funny, but Times Watch doesn't remember the Times thinking of George W. Bush as a "mainstream Republican" back when it was accusing him of violating civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism, and lying about the Iraq threat in a "rush to war."

Speaking at a breakfast with national reporters held by Bloomberg View in Manhattan, Mr. Bush questioned the party’s approach to immigration, deficit reduction and partisanship, saying that his father, former President George Bush, and Reagan would struggle with “an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement.”

Going one better, he praised his father’s 1990 deficit-reduction deal, which drew the lasting ire of his party’s fiscal hawks for its tax increases.

Rutenberg fawned over Jeb Bush's immigration policy, which he suggests is based partially on Bush having a Mexican wife.

But friends say it is the party’s shift away from the sort of comprehensive immigration overhaul Mr. Bush had championed during his presidency that particularly pains the Bushes, who, for all of their differences, believe the system should be more humane for hardworking and law-abiding Hispanic families -- whom the Republican Party must court to assure its future success. The issue has particular resonance for Jeb Bush, whose wife, Columba, is of Mexican heritage.

After relaying former senior strategist Mark McKinnon's plea for bipartisanship, Rutenberg concluded with three paragraphs of opposing view from anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.

A related online "Room for Debate" symposium used Bush's statement to publicize it's slanted premise: "Could Reagan Lead This G.O.P.?"