Oh, no. He's at it again, twisting himself into a pretzel, soft or otherwise. In his book co-authored with Clint Bolick last year, the Center for American Progress' Igor Volsky reports
It is absolutely vital to the integrity of our immigration system that actions have consequences— in this case, that those who violated the laws can remain but cannot obtain the cherished fruits of citizenship. To do otherwise would signal once again that people who circumvent the system can still obtain the full benefits of American citizenship. It must be a basic prerequisite for citizenship to respect the rule of law. But those who entered illegally, despite compelling reasons to do so in many instances, did so knowing that they were violating the law of the land. A grant of citizenship is an undeserving reward for conduct that we cannot afford to encourage. [...]
However, the 2008 election demonstrated that the political terrain had shifted. When he wrote with Bolick an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in January, Jeb Bush contended "A practicable system of work-based immigration for both high-skilled and low-skilled immigrants—a system that will include a path to citizenship—will help us meet workforce needs, prevent exportation of jobs to foreign countries and protect against the exploitation of workers."
Last Monday, however, he was singing a different tune. On the Today show, Bush maintained "And if we want to create an immigration policy that's going to work, we can't continue to make illegal immigration an easier path than legal immigration. There's a natural friction between our immigrant heritage and the rule of law. This is the right place to be in that sense." And in an interview with Chuck Todd that night, the ex-governor downplayed the significance of citizenship.
Six days later, on GOP News Sunday, Bush at first stayed on message. CAP's Annie-Rose Strasser quotes him claiming "sixty (sic) of the people that were granted a process of legalization and citizenship in 1987 did not apply for citizenship."
But that didn't last long as the former governor moments later commented
Now, I also think a path to citizenship, so long as the ability of someone to come legally, is easier, and less costly than coming illegally, that the path to citizenship is appropriate and I applaud the work of the senators and others in the congress, that are working to try to craft a consensus and a compromise on the issue.
Alert the National Weather Service! The man is a walking weather vane. Admittedly, he did not shift 180 degrees and then back again, but only because (unfortunately) both extremes- "rounding up" illegal immigrants or granting actual amnesty- are considered outside of the mainstream and hence illegitimate. (More at a later time why either extreme is actually preferable to the mishmash currently being debated.) But in a matter of less than a year, Jeb Bush has been unsympathetic, then sympathetic, then unsympathetic, then sympathetic to citizenship for illegal immigrants (or in a more narrow range of time: for, against, then for again).
It is simply pathetic. Time seems to have passed the Floridian by, and with it the chance that he will have the opportunity to foist a fourth harmful Bush term upon the country. Still, as a Bush, Jeb is more likely to gain favor with the money base than the popular base of his party and thus needs to determine what corporate America (including the WSJ editorial page) wants out of immigration reform. Presumably, that would be enough to put further downward pressure on wages and benefits but less than the citizenship needed to give the individuals any bargaining power. Once it has been ascertained, he can faithfully promote the interests of the power players in the Repub Party and at least glimpse a path to the nomination.