The “Bush” Stigma

US President George W. Bush (R) is embra

After watching Jeb Bush’s Sunday show interviews, Beinart was convinced that “Jeb Bush will never seriously challenge for the presidency—because to seriously challenge for the presidency, a Republican will have to pointedly distance himself from Jeb’s older brother”:

No Republican will enjoy credibility as a deficit hawk unless he or she acknowledges that George W. Bush squandered the budget surplus he inherited. No Republican will be able to promise foreign-policy competence unless he or she acknowledges the Bush administration’s disastrous mismanagement in Afghanistan and Iraq. It won’t be enough for a candidate merely to keep his or her distance from W. John McCain and Mitt Romney tried that, and they failed because the Obama campaign hung Bush around their neck every chance it got. To seriously compete, the next Republican candidate for president will have to preempt that Democratic line of attack by repudiating key aspects of Bush’s legacy. Jeb Bush would find that excruciatingly hard even if he wanted to. And as his interviews Sunday make clear, he doesn’t event want to try.

(Photo: US President George W. Bush is embraced by his brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, at University Air Center 31 in  Gainesville, Florida on October 2004. By Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images)