In a piece that really makes me miss his reporting, Ben Smith argues that the Jeb Bush bubble needs to be pricked:
The notion that Jeb Bush is going to be the Republican presidential nominee is a fantasy nourished by the people who used to run the Republican Party. Bush has been out of a game that changed radically during the 12 years(!) since he last ran for office. He missed the transformation of his brother from Republican savior to squish; the rise of the tea party; the molding of his peer Mitt Romney into a movement conservative; and the ascendancy of a new generation of politicians — Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, among them — who have been fully shaped by and trained in that new dynamic. Those men occasionally, carefully, respectfully break with the movement. Scorning today’s Republican Party is, by contrast, the core of Jeb’s political identity.
In that, Jeb is like ex-Republican Mike Bloomberg and like the failed GOP apostate Jon Huntsman: He’s deeply committed to centrist causes — federalized education, legal status for undocumented immigrants — that alienate key Republican groups; and he’s vaguely willing to go along with vestigial conservative issues that Republicans don’t care as much about, like standing up for Wall Street (Jeb was on a Lehman Brothers advisory board before that bank’s collapse, and now sits on a Barclay’s board) and opposing marriage equality, a stance he’s sought to downplay by focusing on states’ rights.
Ramesh disagrees about Bush’s chances:
He’d be the establishment candidate himself (or at least one of them). He’d be trying to win over a different group of voters, who take a more moderate view of immigration. And Bush’s own controversial comment on the topic last weekend — he said illegal immigration was “an act of love” — was also less offensive to Republicans who disagree with him, because he didn’t say that they were heartless but rather that they weren’t viewing the issue the right way.
Bush’s position within the primary electorate, in other words, would be more like that of Senator John McCain — who won the nomination not so long ago, in 2008. Actually, it would be better than McCain’s, as McCain’s record included a lot more deviations from the party line than Bush’s does.
Aw, c’mon. That “act of love” remark – admirably Christian – sank him with the Christianists and the Tea Party. Byron York spots a different problem with Jeb:
The fact that Bush is seriously considering a run indicates he has probably made a lot of money since leaving office in 2007. He didn’t have tons of it before, having spent some of his most productive years in public service. Now, Bush makes a living in the standard post-politician way. He has his own consulting firm, Jeb Bush and Associates, and serves as a senior adviser to Barclays Capital. He also makes paid speeches and sits on several corporate boards. All that will, of course, be scrutinized if he runs.
In the Fox interview, Bush said a campaign should be about “winning the election, not making a point.” Winning, he said, “should be what we’re about.” But the bottom line is that, at least right now, Bush just doesn’t seem like a politician in top fighting shape. It’s not even clear he wants the fight at all. That’s the real question for Jeb Bush.
PM Carptenter reads the signs:
The odds that Jeb Bush will be the next Republican presidential nominee just soared, because Bill Kristol, appearing on Morning Joe, reported on by his own publication, just “made the argument that Jeb Bush will not be the next Republican presidential nominee.”
Has Kristol ever been right? About anything?
Allahpundit peers into a possible future:
Let me paint you a picture. Bush announces he’s running. Soon after, Rubio announces that he isn’t, having concluded that too many of his potential advisors and fundraisers will gravitate towards Jeb. Paul Ryan likewise decides he’ll pass, figuring his best bet at influence is as the next Ways and Means chairman. Bush hits the trail, talking up education reform and ticking off a few well-chosen points of disagreement with his brother’s foreign policy.
Meanwhile, Christie, his main rival for establishment support, is too damaged by Bridgegate and never gathers much momentum. Neither does Jindal, who’s overshadowed by bigger-name candidates both to his left (Bush) and his right (Rand Paul and Ted Cruz) and can’t quite find a niche. Bush, now largely unchallenged in the center and center-right, consolidates their support. Over on the right, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz bash each other’s brains in on foreign policy and the NSA until one of them emerges as the conservative choice. That’s when Bush’s backers launch a ferocious campaign attacking Cruz/Paul as fringe material — government shutdowns! a disarmed military! — who’ll never stand a chance against Hillary.
It works and Jeb sweeps to the nomination, only to lose badly in the general when voters are forced to decide whether they want to return to “the Clinton era” or “the Bush era.”