Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Earlier this year I wrote a piece titled "Forget Christie: Why Jeb Bush Will Win the 2016 GOP Nomination." Looks like he's made it semi-official with the announcement over the weekend that he will "actively explore" a presidential run, and will release approximately 250,000 emails early next year from his two terms as Florida governor from 1999-2006. As Yogi Berra famously said, It's deja vu all over again...
Despite the fact that he's not been to Iowa in two years, and that his political team consists of just four people, Bush has big Republican donors salivating on the sidelines. Folks who can't bear the thought of supporting bombastic New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose BridgeGate and Hurricane Sandy scandals, coupled with his anger management problem and obesity, vastly diminish his overall appeal outside the Garden State.
Bush is the anti-Christie. He's got pedigree, class, is soft-spoken yet firm, smart, moderate (by today's wacko Tea Party standards) and married to a Mexican woman, making him quite an attractive candidate to many, as Hispanics are becoming a much bigger percentage of overall voters. And, mostly because of what he's not--a fringe loon like Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Rand Paul or Marco Rubio, or a 'loser' like Mitt Romney--big GOP donors and bundlers would euphorically hop aboard the BushTrain the nanosecond he declares.
But Bush also has serious liabilities that concern the party's ultra conservatives, such as his controversial positions on immigration, education and taxes, as well as his overseas investments. And then there's that pedigree thing. Though his mother Barbara has essentially flipped on her famous 2013 claim that "we've had enough Bushes," the million-dollar question remains, 'is the country ready for yet another Bush?'
In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll earlier this year, 69% of Americans agreed with Ms. Bush that it's time to move on. And with the news full of terrorist beheadings by ISIS; the turmoil in Iraq and Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East; new reports of CIA torture tactics; Dick Cheney reprising his Darth Vadar routine; and a still-struggling economy, will the ghost of big brother George haunt baby bro and present insurmountable challenges to an eventual campaign?
To be sure, Bush is no centrist, despite his lofty reputation. He's for tax cuts to the wealthy, is against abortion and gay marriage, is in bed with gun owners (we can partially thank him for Florida's Stand Your Ground law), and his views on faith have put him squarely in the middle of controversy. In 2003 he intervened on the side of the family of Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman in a persistent vegetative state, whose feeding tube was removed and then ordered reinserted, against the wishes of her husband, her legal guardian.
All of which makes Hillary Clinton the most likely victor in this dynastic match-up. The country has matured and evolved, but the Republican Party hasn't. It is Clinton's views, not Bush's, that are shared by a majority of Americans. Voters want immigration reform; have overwhelmingly supported same-sex marriage; believe in a woman's right to choose; worry about climate change; want to close the income gap; seek government regulation of Wall Street and the banking industry; and support Obamacare and the need to insure all Americans.
Yes, America's next president will likely come from American political royalty, but she won't be a Bush.