December 19, 2002
A Question That Has No Good Answer

Why does our President--the child of two yankees--have a brother named after Confederate cavalry general J.E.B. Stuart, a guy who would round up free Blacks during Confederate invasions of Maryland, ship them back to Virginia, and sell them as slaves?

Posted by DeLong at December 19, 2002 09:42 AM | Trackback

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Not to mention that Jeb was a terrible general -- but, not unlike some of his spiritual descendents, he had a great PR machine.

It says something about one sort of Southern values that while Stuart was off slave-hunting he failed to let Robert E. Lee (a good general, and at least a morally interesting human being) have a clue as to where the Union army was.

Not to pick on Robert E Lee, who was clearly the best of his kind, at some point in the 1880's W. T. Sherman(a genuinely principled articulate and interesting conservative) apparently wrote an article in which he maintained, quite correctly, that Grant was a better general than Lee, and George Thomas, as a Virginian who kept his oath to his country, was a better man. While we are engaged in re-rewriting American history it might be nice to see that piece. Maybe in a better world there will be a George Thomas Bush.

Posted by: Gene O'Grady on December 19, 2002 10:34 AM

(1) Is it known and documented that this is the origin of Jeb Bush's name?

(2) If so, wouldn't it be a bit more just to ask why George H. W. and Barbara chose the name, rather than making George W. the question's subject?

I'm all for exposing the modern Right's ties to neo-Confederate hogwash, and reminding people just what kind of brutality those dashing Confederates actually practiced, but surely we can cast the question in a form that doesn't outrage people's sense of fairness. Not many of us have much say in what our siblings got named.

Posted by: Patrick Nielsen Hayden on December 19, 2002 10:38 AM

Jeb's name is made up of his initials. John Ellis Bush.

Did I mention he's a moron, just like his brother?

Posted by: tbogg on December 19, 2002 10:45 AM

J.E.B. Stuart's full name was James Ewell Brown Stuart. "Jeb" Bush's full name, as mentioned before, is John Ellis Bush. And yes, he does suck.

Posted by: David Sallis on December 19, 2002 11:16 AM

You should change the title of your post to a A Misleading Question That Has A Good Answer.

Did you forget your meds today Brad?

Posted by: Paved on December 19, 2002 11:27 AM

Did I mention he's a moron, just like his brother?


Ok I don't like GW Bush's policies, but where do you get off calling him a moron? Maybe he doesn't read Wittgenstein before going to sleep. Maybe he mangles his sentences. So? He did get elected President of the United States - and you didn't - so I guess he's doing something right. Around him are people who are, on an objective level, pretty smart - again, I don't agree with their policies, or their morals, but you can be smart and wrong, no?

I say this in the nicest manner, really, because your kind of attitude is counterproductive. I think most Americans, when they hear this kind of comment, are likely to side with Bush. They're likely to say, "This guy probably thinks I'm a moron too." And they're not going to like you for that. And they're going to confuse your arrogance with the policies you promote, and they're going to reject those policies because of that arrogance. Criticize Bush, and criticize his policies - yes. But leave his intelligence or supposed lack of it out; and maybe then you'll get somewhere.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on December 19, 2002 12:27 PM

Did you, or do you, believe that this is in fact the origin of Jeb's name? If so, why - did someone tell you that once and you believe everything bad you hear about people whose politics you disagree with? You've written about this before:

http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/archives/001007.html

If you don't believe that, what is the purpose of this entry and the aside in the earlier one? It is possible I just don't understand liberal humor.

Posted by: DF on December 19, 2002 12:36 PM

Indeed, Wittgenstein would probably say that the sort of man who doesn't need to read him before bed in order to clear his mind of the musty cobwebs of philosophical problem-solving is probably the smartest kind of man.

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias on December 19, 2002 01:22 PM

Here is a Helpful Post.

And the Bush family tree is linked to this page, with John Ellis Bush featured.

Hey, this "Google" is pretty good!

Posted by: Tom Maguire on December 19, 2002 01:47 PM

Look out, Brad, you've stirred up the Bush Cult of Personality(BCP)!

The BCP likes to feign outrage about sleights to Bush intelligence, although the dumb, "aw-shucks" persona is one of their family's greatest assets. Remember the 2000 Presidential Debates!

Posted by: Ras_Nesta on December 19, 2002 01:58 PM

Burning, looting and pillaging everything from Chattanooga to Savannah makes you a "principled, articulate, and interesting conservative"? Somehow I'm not surprised.


Only the cavalry raiders - Forrest, Wheeler, Moseby, Kilpatrick, Jordan, Custer, and yes even Stuart and Sherman - presaged modern warfare. Lee, Grant, et al. were fighting the Napoleonic Wars half a century late.

Posted by: Harry Tuttle on December 19, 2002 02:04 PM

This still leaves the question of why they call him Jeb. My parents don't call me Jam.

Does anyone actually have a cite for why he's called that?

Posted by: Jason McCullough on December 19, 2002 02:32 PM

Harry Tuttle wrote, Burning, looting and pillaging everything from Chattanooga to Savannah makes you a "principled, articulate, and interesting conservative"?

Are you sure this is a good measure by which to criticize Sherman?

As I recall, by a different metric---who spilled the most of his men's blood---Lee was the nastiest of them all.

Andrew Boucher wrote, Ok I don't like GW Bush's policies, but where do you get off calling him a moron?

Uh, maybe because he is a moron? It certainly is problematic, trying to figure out W's intelligence from his performance in public appearances. But we don't have to do that. All we have to do is note that the man never succeeded on his own---he succeeded by virtue of being his father's son. So, by the standard of achievement, not aptitude, yes, W is a blithering idiot.

OTOH, I agree that I say this in the nicest manner, really, because your kind of attitude is counterproductive. I think most Americans, when they hear this kind of comment, are likely to side with Bush. They're likely to say, "This guy probably thinks I'm a moron too."

Posted by: on December 19, 2002 02:54 PM

"This still leaves the question of why they call him Jeb. My parents don't call me Jam."

Is there such a thing as a name that is not connected to both good and bad people?

Posted by: David Thomson on December 19, 2002 03:26 PM

>>Did you, or do you, believe that this is in fact the origin of Jeb's name?<<

Yes. "Jeb" was not a name before the Civil War. After the Civil War southern parents began using the name to "honor" cavalry general J.E.B. Stuart. That's why people in the south were called "Jeb" a hundred years ago. That's why people in the south are still called "Jeb" today...

Posted by: Brad DeLong on December 19, 2002 03:37 PM

>> "Jeb" was not a name before the Civil War. After the Civil War southern parents began using the name to "honor" cavalry general J.E.B. Stuart. That's why people in the south were called "Jeb" a hundred years ago. That's why people in the south are still called "Jeb" today...

Really? Where'd you get that idea? We have a family Bible (or "Babble," as it's pronounced back home) that lists a whole passel of Jebs from as far back as the 1820s. "Jeb" is short for "Jebediah," which (like many especially nasty-sounding monikers) comes from the Old Testament, though I refuse to dig up chapter and verse.

Maybe there was a late-19th-century uptick in Southern Jebs for the reason you cite, but it seems rather over-elaborate and unlikely. I mean, why "Jeb" and not "Robert E."? Or "Jubal"? Or "Nathan Bedford"? ("Bed"?) I'm not defending any of the Bush clan, or arguing that there aren't plenty of unreconstructed dimwits down South and elsewhere. But why grub up manufactured malfeeance when there's plenty of authentic stuff out there?

Posted by: bettina on December 19, 2002 04:22 PM

Prof. Delong, it is well understood that you despise all things Bush, but your all-consuming hatred appears to have stripped you of your powers of reason, and prompted you to engage in flights of irrational, pathetic, ranting. Nobody named Jeb prior to the Civil War? Geez, get a grip, man. The irony of you Bush haters being unable to recognize how closely you mirror the irrational nutjobs who used to make up stuff about Clinton, when there were so many indisputable facts on which to base ones' contempt, is also pathetic.

Posted by: Will Allen on December 19, 2002 04:39 PM

Re: Bush/Moron. Aren't y'all embarrassed that ya got yer butts whupped by a MORON last month? Hehe.

And "jebediah"... also quite funny. Yer ignorance sure is quite clear!

Posted by: no on December 19, 2002 04:51 PM

Etymology links for Jeb:

Here.

Possibly a short form of JACOB. This name may have also resulted from a nickname of James Ewell Brown Stuart, a Confederate officer in the American Civil War, which was formed from the initial letters of his three given names.

Here.

Diminutives from Jacob: Jack, Jackie, Jake, Jeb.

There's not a lot of agreement. I couldn't find any links supporting that it might be a short form of Jebediah, surprisingly, only Jacob.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on December 19, 2002 05:05 PM

Here is something we should all reflect on: the bush nazi coke moonie connection.

Posted by: on December 19, 2002 05:20 PM

Here something else we should all reflect on: Skull & Bones.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on December 19, 2002 05:24 PM

Brad's question is arguably a cheap shot ... but the true origins of the Bush (Walker) family fortune and social stature are arguably even less savory.

And perhaps we can all find better things to talk about?

Posted by: RonK, Seattle on December 19, 2002 06:10 PM


I've known a guy named Adolph for some years now. It never occurred to me that his family was a bunch of Nazi sympathizers until I read this post today. But now I know. The bastards. Thanks for straightening me out.

Posted by: Jim Glass on December 19, 2002 07:13 PM

Uh, maybe because he is a moron? It certainly is problematic, trying to figure out W's intelligence from his performance in public appearances.

Indeed!

But we don't have to do that. All we have to do is note that the man never succeeded on his own---he succeeded by virtue of being his father's son. So, by the standard of achievement, not aptitude, yes, W is a blithering idiot.

By this token Al Gore is also a blithering idiot. Also the Kennedys. I come from a middle-class family, so that gave me certain advantages too. That is, there are a lot of people in America who don't succeed on their "own." You're on safer ground mentioning his mangled sentences; but this isn't conclusive evidence, because you can be intelligent but have a public speaking problem.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on December 19, 2002 09:57 PM

On account of merit, wasn't Bill Clinton the incarnation of the American Dream?

I read a pretty good line in today's FT (I'm almost sure it's from Gerard Baker - but I'm not positive): "Trend Lott is as stupid as Europeans think George W Bush is". Now, that's mean... :)

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on December 19, 2002 11:05 PM

>>I've known a guy named Adolph for some years now. It never occurred to me that his family was a bunch of Nazi sympathizers until I read this post today. But now I know. The bastards. Thanks for straightening me out.<<

What would you think if I named my son Saddam? That I just happen to like that name? :-D

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on December 19, 2002 11:07 PM

I would perhaps relate this discussion to the earlier ridiculousness on this comments board where numerous people pretended to be seriously discussing the possibility that employers discriminated against people with "black" names, not because they didn't want to employ black people, but simply ... because they didn't like those names.

The possible allusion to a Confederate general is by the by; the Bushes gave that name to their son because they wanted to pretend that their family were Southerners when they weren't. This is, of course, a minor deception passed on the electors of Florida, but given what that unfortunate group of people have had to put up with over the last few years, I doubt it's their first priority.

Posted by: dsquared on December 20, 2002 06:22 AM

>> What would you think if I named my son Saddam? That I just happen to like that name? <<

Ask that question in about 3/4 of a century, which is roughly how long Jeb Bush was born after Jeb Stuart was dead.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on December 20, 2002 07:22 AM

>> The possible allusion to a Confederate general is by the by; the Bushes gave that name to their son because they wanted to pretend that their family were Southerners when they weren't. <<

The Bush kids were born in Texas, which was one of the Confederate states. Do we know if it was the parents who were the first to call their son Jeb? Very often children get nicknames from their acquaintances.

Anyway, I take it Professor DeLong has abandoned any ambitions to serve in a future Democrat's Treasury Dept.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on December 20, 2002 07:28 AM

>>The Bush kids were born in Texas, which was one of the Confederate states<<

To continue the tone of racial good cheer, it so happens that I was born in Zambia, but it doesn't make me black.

>>Do we know if it was the parents who were the first to call their son Jeb? Very often children get nicknames from their acquaintances.<<

Hmmmm ... the Bush children were educated at Phillips Academy Prep School, Andover, Massachussets. Stereotype, maybe, but I rather doubt that mullets, Old Granddad and Johnny Rebel were quite the cultural references of choice.

This is quite as ridiculous as George Bush senior trying to play the populist card by mentioning Clinton's "Oxford debating", portraying himself as a poor barefoot good ol' boy from Yale.

Posted by: dsquared on December 20, 2002 08:59 AM

Trying to close an italics tag which I didn't before. Sorry 'bout that.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on December 20, 2002 09:14 AM

Andrew Boucher wrote, By this token Al Gore is also a blithering idiot. Also the Kennedys.

Perhaps. I never understood why people thought Gore was smart. On the other hand, while he certainly was given a cushy spot during the Vietnam War, that's a far cry from desertion.

Best,

Posted by: Stephen J on December 20, 2002 10:23 AM

I feel it would be cheating to use Google, so I'll just say that I am eagerly awaiting the Prof's theory for William Jefferson Clinton. TJ, or JD? How does that break, Arkansas-style?

Posted by: Tom Maguire on December 20, 2002 02:32 PM

Damn you Brad. Why did you have to go and impugn the honor of my high school by linking its namesake to a member of that scaliwag Yank family.

Jeb Stuart HS -- Falls Church, VA.

Ironically it is now incredibly diverse in it student body and faculty..

Posted by: Sterling on December 20, 2002 04:51 PM

>> the Bush children were educated at Phillips Academy Prep School <<

At what age did they enter Phillips Academy?

BTW, there was a famous incident with a first cousin of George, Neil, and Jeb Bush, calling Florida's votes for Bush on CNN. That cousin is named John Ellis.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on December 20, 2002 05:50 PM

Gosh, what does the following say about Senator Robert Byrd? Should he be thrown out of the Senate?:


“Byrd's big screen debut
Senator happy with small role
in ‘Gods and Generals'

Chris Stirewalt
Daily Mail Staff

Thursday December 19, 2002; 10:30 AM

He doesn't get the girl and he doesn't even have any lines, but Sen. Robert Byrd still is looking forward to his big screen debut.

Byrd said he is eagerly awaiting the Feb. 21 premiere of the Civil War movie "Gods and Generals," which will include his cameo as Confederate Gen. Paul J. Semmes.

"My role is small, admittedly, and probably won't earn me an Academy Award," Byrd, D-W.Va., said. "But it was exciting to participate in a project that is helping to promote our nation's history."

The movie, which details the events and battles leading up to Gettysburg, is set to open nationwide with a full fusillade of publicity from Warner Bros. A special screening is planned in Martinsburg, in the center of the history-laden area where the movie was largely filmed.”

http://www.dailymail.com/news/News/2002121927

Posted by: David Thomson on December 21, 2002 07:16 AM

From http://stuartbuck.blogspot.com/2002_12_01_stuartbuck_archive.html#86366030

Brad DeLong goes off the deep end again:

A Question That Has No Good Answer
Why does our President--the child of two yankees--have a brother named after Confederate cavalry general J.E.B. Stuart, a guy who would round up free Blacks during Confederate invasions of Maryland, ship them back to Virginia, and sell them as slaves?

Posted by DeLong at 09:42 AM

By all appearances (see the comments on his post), DeLong means this seriously, although there is not the slightest shred of evidence that George and Barbara Bush came up with the nickname "Jeb" as a means of honoring Jeb Stuart. Apparently, if someone happens to share the same name as a repulsive historical figure, that is enough for DeLong -- it must be a deliberate attempt to honor the historical figure.

Assuming that DeLong has any intellectual consistency, here's another equally insightful post for him to consider: [tone of horror]"Why does an Orthodox Jew -- Joseph Lieberman -- share the same name as Josef Stalin, that notorious mass murderer?"[/tone of horror]

Posted by: Anon on December 21, 2002 09:55 AM

>> Why does an Orthodox Jew -- Joseph Lieberman -- share the same name as Josef Stalin, that notorious mass murderer?"[/tone of horror] <<

Not to mention Goebbles -- Joseph Goebbles!

Holy Cow ... I just realized that, northerner though I am, I named my own son after the most famous and important Confederate general of them all: "Robert"

I am a southern bigot at heart! I knew there was some reason why I could never bring myself to root for those damn Yankees, and always preferred the Mets.

But one thing I still don't understand is who so many otherwise apparently reasonable mainstream liberals have a need to believe that those who disagree with them politically are *morally bad people*.

It's not only unattractive but seems rather illiberal and intolerant, prejudiced even.


Posted by: Jim Glass on December 21, 2002 01:19 PM

>>although there is not the slightest shred of evidence that George and Barbara Bush came up with the nickname "Jeb" as a means of honoring Jeb Stuart<<

Stop, please, you're killing me.

Posted by: dsquared on December 22, 2002 11:34 PM

Is Brad angling for the Trent Lott Chair In Digging a Deeper Hole For Himself?

Claiming that Jeb wasn't a name before the Civil War is almost as intelligent as Lott's explanation that he voted against the MLK holiday because he didn't know who King was.

Just admit you screwed up. It can be embarrassing, but much less so than these sorts of follow-up explanations. Or don't admit it, but just drop the issue. Better to slink away quietly than to try so desperately to get the last word that you need to make up "facts" like this.

Posted by: David Nieporent on December 23, 2002 04:16 AM

>> >>although there is not the slightest shred of evidence that George and Barbara Bush came up with the nickname "Jeb" as a means of honoring Jeb Stuart<<

>> Stop, please, you're killing me.<<

I repeat for the benefit of d squared: John Ellis is a first cousin of John Ellis(Jeb)Bush. One needn't even strop Occam's Razor to cut this.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on December 23, 2002 07:31 AM

from old newark marriages -- look for jeb baker's 1812 newark marriage. it took me all of 15 seconds to find this. no effort. it took another 5 seconds to find some guy in texas, circa 1825, named j.e.b. austin. u cal econ prof, eh? are you sloppy, stupid, or just hugely dishonest?

http://www.oldnewark.com/marriages/b/baader/htm

Posted by: Lotta Baloney on December 23, 2002 10:23 AM

Shyeah right. Let's put it this way: suppose that my name was Daniel Benjamin Laden. Suppose further that I was occasionally nicknamed "Ben". Suppose further that I decided to run for office in a country where 25% of the population were New Yorkers, and the rest were Arabs, with a sizeable minority of those Arabs being outright haters of the Americans.

Would you advise me to run under the name "Dan Laden" or "Ben Laden"? If I chose to call myself "Ben Laden", would you give me the benefit of the doubt or would you suppose that I was pandering to the worst tendencies of my electorate?

Posted by: DD on December 23, 2002 11:25 AM

"Run under the name?" Are you under the impression that Jeb Bush suddenly picked the name in 1994?

Why don't we make it more analogous: let's suppose you were always nicknamed Ben, since your childhood. Suppose further that your last name was Smith. Now, suppose further that the sort of people who would go through such ridiculous contortions to find a connection between "Ben Smith" and "Bin Laden" are also the sort of people who would never vote for you in a million years, because you're married to an Israeli. Should we think that you're pandering, or that you're simply using the name you've always used your whole life?

Posted by: David Nieporent on December 24, 2002 12:05 AM

Does d squared have a first cousin named Daniel Ulysses?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on December 24, 2002 08:48 AM

You can't possibly be as stupid as that blog entry suggests.

Posted by: Steve Martinovich on December 25, 2002 11:10 PM
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