Jeb on mass shootings (and economic inequality, and institutional racism, and climate change): “stuff happens”

When Jeb Bush first heard that a mass shooting had taken place in Oregon yesterday, he was quick to proclaim that he would be doing the only thing anyone can really do in times like these: praying.

Given a full day to think about what should come next, after God’s heard his pleas for, well, something, Bush was asked if he supported any legislation to make shootings like these less likely in the future. He took a half-swing and missed wildly:

The audio’s soft on that clip, but here’s the quote that matters:

I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It’s very sad to see. But I resist the notion, and I had this challenge as governor—look, stuff happens. There’s always a crisis. The impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.

While a lot of people are jumping on Bush’s comments as a gaffe, “stuff happens” is Bush’s position on a lot more than gun violence. There isn’t a single major systemic issue in this country that Jeb Bush thinks the government can take any actionable steps to ameliorate. Economic inequality? Climate change? Stuff happens. You’ve got to let the free market take its course. Institutional racism? Stuff happens. America’s criminal justice system isn’t racist; black people are just more likely to be criminals. Widespread lack of access to health insurance? Stuff happens. But if you’re lucky, your Apple Watch will take care of you!

It appears that the only time Jeb Bush thinks the government should intervene to prevent stuff from happening is when the guardian of someone in a persistent vegetative state wants them to die with dignity.

So it should come as no surprise that when he was asked shortly following his comments if he stood by them — is his stance on mass shootings really that, as with natural disasters, they’re something we just have to live with once in a while (or every day) —  he doubled down:

Because it is Jeb Bush’s deeply-held political belief that prayer is more effective than policy, and that the most pressing problems facing our country now aren’t problems at all; they’re just the price we pay for our freedom. Neither of those things are even close to being true. When bad stuff happens we need to pray less and think about solutions more.

That’s what Presidents are supposed to do when stuff happens: Figure out how to keep said stuff from happening quite as frequently. If Jeb doesn’t like the sound of that, he’s more than welcome to go back to Florida and do nothing on his own time.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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45 Responses to “Jeb on mass shootings (and economic inequality, and institutional racism, and climate change): “stuff happens””

  1. Badgerite says:

    Oh, the GOP has been intellectually and morally bankrupt for a long, long time. Their big idea is that there is nothing that can be done about anything unless it involves tax cuts.
    Jeb!!!! just probably forgot to mention that tax cuts would be his preferred remedy to mass murder by guns. “Winning”!

  2. rwlorenz says:

    Real ‘Mercans don’t do no planning. Makes them look too much like the overly polite, puck-slapping maple suckers.

  3. rwlorenz says:

    Stuff happens to the unimportant people. If they want to change that they should become important people.

  4. rwlorenz says:

    We real ‘Mercans don’t plan; we react. Conservatives don’t waste no time in worrying about what might happen; we are ready to respond with knee-jerk, half-ass actions when the s*** hits the fan.

  5. cambridgemac says:

    You are mistaken. Bush only believes that prayer is more effective than policy when the people in distress are not white and wealthy. He has always been happy to use the power of the state against women, people of color, working people. Because freedom for investors and the corps. The Real People.

  6. cambridgemac says:

    Wish I could update this ten times.

  7. Steven says:

    What amazes me is that the political right considers the problem – so many guns in so many hands – to be the actual solution. How many times have we heard this week that, had the students been armed, this wouldn’t have happened? They won’t be satisfied until every gun control measure has been repealed and every citizen armed to the teeth. What a society we live in.

  8. Steven says:

    I think they’re basing the entire campaign on television advertising, hence the massive warchest. And what a sad commentary, that he might succeed just because he had the money to put up 30-second ads on TV. But, on the bright side, few people outside of loyal Republicans actually sit down and watch TV as it happens, so it’s likely just pissing money in the wind. I’ve felt over the past couple of weeks that the momentum is shifting to Rubio.

  9. Lucille Robinson says:

    Last tuesday I got a top of the McLaren F1 from earning $16020 this last four weeks and also 15-k last-month . this is definitely the coolest work I have ever done . Without any question it’s the most financially rewarding Ive had . I started this 4 months ago & practicaIIy straight away began to bring home over $97 p/h .Visit weblink to start immediately.
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  10. MoonDragon says:

    “It’s the price YOU pay for a country where I’m free to pursue my pleasure. I cannot be expected to tolerate behavior on YOUR part that might prevent me from feeling comfortable and justified in my prejudices. That’s too big a price for ME to pay.”

  11. Indigo says:

    His Spanish is pretty good; he sounds like a genuinely nice human being. Misleading, I know, but here in Florid’oh, that part passes nicely. As for his lovely wife, Columba, I don’t know about smuggling jewelry, but she did attempt to haul a few suit cases full of French couture into the country while she was Florida first lady. All in all, the family definitely fits into the social spigot of the south Florida’s trickle-down economy. I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, Jeb can’t carry Florida. We loath him and the mess he made of our fragile public educational system.

  12. therling says:

    “Jeb Bush Declares War on Stuff.”

  13. 2karmanot says:


  14. nicho says:

    More Jeb? idiocy

    “A child drowned in a pool and the impulse is to pass a law that puts fencing around pools,”

    Actually, that’s just what we do, Jeb?. In fact, Jeb?, you signed such a law.

    This man is dumber than a post with diarrhea of the brain.

  15. therling says:

    “Things happen all the time.” How profound.

  16. 2karmanot says:

    Stuff Happens Jebbya…….my gawd, what a putz.

  17. emjayay says:

    Isn’t it time for him to bring his teeny little jewelry sneaking customs violating Mexican wife who speaks worse English than his Spanish out in public to meet everyone? That should help.

  18. Houndentenor says:

    Anyone shocked by that statement doesn’t know any conservatives. “That’s just a price we pay for living in a free country. How dare anyone exploit such a tragedy.” I hear it at least a dozen times within 48 hours of every mass shooting. Jeb’s only “sin” was saying it in front of a camera. That’s the only big change on the right. They used to know not to say such things in public. But they’ve said them in private for decades.

  19. olandp says:

    Jeb! doesn’t do well in primaries. He never won a primary in Florida. It took the drunken, womanizing, wife-beater Tom Slade to clear the field of challengers for Jeb! to be elected governor of Florida. Reince needs to get working because Jeb! doesn’t get his hands dirty, that is someone else’s job.

  20. olandp says:

    We want him to go back to Texas, we have enough problems in Florida (still some that he created) with bat-boy.

  21. Yvonne Johnson says:

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  22. hidflect says:

    Stuff never happens in Bush’s gated community. His private army make sure of that.

  23. BeccaM says:

    My other nickname for her, although I didn’t invent it, is “Caribou Barbie.” But no, what I was trying to do there was to come up with a two-word descriptive term that typifies both their behavior and persona in the world.

  24. Houndentenor says:

    He has no traction. What a trainwreck of a campaign. And to be upstaged by the likes of Trump and Carson. That shows how pathetic he really is.

  25. Don Chandler says:

    You mean, it’s not “ice troll’?

  26. Indigo says:

    If they need to draw from the Utah crowd, Jon Huntsman is the smart choice. Of course, today’s Republicans don’t grasp the importance of “smart” so chances are “reasonable” will rerun. I hope his poor wife can endure it.

  27. UncleBucky says:

    How can a man on a white horse be a dark horse, eh? :P

  28. woodroad34 says:

    Mr. Burns says “Exxxxcccccelllent!”

  29. woodroad34 says:

    “Dubya”, much like “santorum”, has it’s own connotation and saying anything would be redundantly redundant.

  30. MerryMarjie says:

    Thumbs up!

  31. MerryMarjie says:

    I think Dubya spoke for himself, much to our consternation and detriment. What a buffoon he was, and Jeb even sounds like the dumber one now.

  32. nicho says:

    I just have the feeking that when all the other GOP candidates crumble into dust, Mitt will be trotted out as the “reasonable guy” who will save the party.

  33. nicho says:

    He is the smarter one. What does that say about Dubya?

  34. woodroad34 says:

    Or “indifferent elite”. Love this game! Are shots involved?

  35. woodroad34 says:

    Yeah. And he’s supposed to be the “smart” one. This is one time the trickle down theory actually works–stupid from W all the way down.

  36. Hue-Man says:

    “There isn’t a single major systemic issue in this country that Jeb Bush
    thinks the government can take any actionable steps to ameliorate.”

    Here’s a story I only learned about this week. I can’t imagine any corporation or any charity that would consider this an issue they would want to tackle – the lead-time may be more than 50 years rather than this quarter’s financial statements!

    “Approximately 200 million seedlings are planted in BC each
    year. When those trees are harvested 60-80 years after they are planted, the
    climate could be 3-4 degrees warmer than when the seedlings were planted,
    exposing the trees to maladaptation and health risks. Consequently,
    Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations
    researchers have initiated a large, long-term climate change
    research study – the Assisted Migration Adaptation Trial (AMAT) – to better
    understand tree species’ climate tolerances.”

    If you don’t like clicking, they are harvesting seeds from as far south as southern Oregon, 500 miles south of the B.C./Washington border and planting them throughout B.C. to monitor their survival. Trees are surprisingly unable to migrate northward fast enough if the climate gets too hot! No trees, no forestry industry and no wildlife.

    Underwater Florida? Ignore it, it’ll never happen….

  37. BeccaM says:

    Kim Davis

    Here a bonus one for ya:
    “Language Mutilator” = Sarah Palin

  38. Don Chandler says:

    “Mulish Intransigence” describes who again?

  39. fry1laurie says:

    I know one “Stuff” that’s not going to happen: Jeb! elected president.

  40. Indigo says:

    I sense no danger from the Bush Camp. Romney, however . . .

  41. Indigo says:

    It’s good to know that he is at peace with his god, Mammon.

  42. FLL says:

    “Malignant Narcissist”


  43. BeccaM says:

    Often it’s possible to come up with a two word description of someone which encapsulates everything about them. Or nearly everything.

    For example, my new favorite term for Trump is a clinical one: “Malignant Narcissist.”

    With John Ellis Bush, it’s this: “Passive Indifference.” The guy truly seems not to give a rat’s ass about anybody else’s problems, no matter how terrible or preventable the situation.

  44. FLL says:

    The very latest poll (Pew Research) has Jeb at 4% among all potential Republican primary voters. I think he understands that he will not be the Republican nominee, and he just doesn’t care about what he says at this point.

  45. Chas Holman says:

    Last week his concern was ‘free stuff’.. Now it is ‘stuff happens’.. This guy is full of.. stuff.. Easy to say such meaningless ‘stuff’ when much of your family is protected by the secret Service for life to protect them from some of the very nut jobs whom the high paid lobbyists, who’s legislation folks like Mr Bush signed off on, helped enable a ‘free for all’ for culturally – if not legislatively. As a guy who has always made the extra effort to be responsible with my own firearms when I had them (I sure never would celebrate or glorify my ‘stuff’), I am getting fairly angry at the authoritative aloofness of some others who don’t seem to get it is not ‘black and white’. WE have a SERIOUS problem.. What do WE do about it? ‘Stuff happens’ is so VERY ‘Bush’.

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