Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says it is time to challenge "bad behavior" in politics — and hold public figures to a higher ethical standard.
In remarks Wednesday at Elmhurst College's annual governmental forum in Oak Brook, Illinois, Bush said he felt the "looming presence" of his mother and former first lady Barbara Bush, the Daily Herald reported.
The Bush matriarch died Tuesday at 92, and Bush said "she would be very upset" if he reneged on his commitment to speak at the forum on "leadership in a changing world."
"Bad behavior and the kind of language that we accept today, or the kind of actions that we find intolerable for someone we don't agree with, should have the exact same response to someone that's on your team," he said, the Daily Herald reported.
". . . Right now, we're so hyper-partisan that if it's a Democrat doing something outrageous, Republicans are just righteously there to attack, but if it's a Republican, you hear nothing and vice versa.
"To challenge this notion, sometimes bad behavior is just bad behavior."
Bush said the first step to change the language around political discourse is "get back to something that [if] you're at your own kitchen table you could tolerate."
"[At] least in my kitchen table, I could promise you if I talked like the people I hear on public television today talk, my mother would have gotten her board out and whipped my butt, which she did occasionally," he said.
Bush — repeatedly targeted by President Donald Trump during the GOP primaries — also offered his own prescription for a "poisonous" political environment in Washington, the Daily Herald reported.
"First, voters should penalize rather than reward politicians irrespective of their party that use racist language or call people Nazis or disparage the disabled or make fun of people in order to push someone down to make themselves look better," he said. "That should be a penalty."
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