Our political Quote of the Day comes from The Daily Beast’s Peter Beinhart, who notes that Jeb Bush’s magical mystery tour of Sunday talk shows yesterday (he’s really only considering running, you know) and then bluntly explains why he believes Jeb Bush will never be elected President: he does have Bush baggage.
On five talk shows Sunday morning, Jeb Bush reminded America why he’ll never be president: it’s hard to distance yourself from your own last name.
Unfortunately for Jeb, history is written by historians. Three times since 2009, pollsters have asked them to rank American presidents, and in those rankings, W. has come in 36th, 39th, and 31st. Only Millard Fillmore, Warren Harding, William Henry Harrison, Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, and James Buchanan rank lower. Ordinary Americans agree. Three times since George W. Bush left office, pollsters have asked the public to rank recent presidents. And three times, W. has ended up second to last, ahead of only Richard Nixon.
Yes. These are the realities.
But since when has reality ever stopped partisans from claiming that another reality not reliant on those pain-in-the-you-know-what-things call “facts” is reality?
I mean, take Dick Morris.
That’s why 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.
He notes that a GOPer in the future who wants to win the Oval Office will have to short-circuit Democratic attack lines about GWB. But as GHWB might say: “Not gonna happen.” Bush could run into problems if he would praise his brother or stand by hime when hen many Republicans including Tea Partiers wish GWB had stayed in Texas — or kept managing that football team. When George W. Bush left Washington, many Republicans were singing this song.
Yet, I don’t totally agree with Beinart.
If the Democrats shoot themselves in the foot — by nominating a candidate who is politically incompetent, or nominating a candidate that the party’s liberal base doesn’t feel is “progressive” (current buzzword for liberal) enough so some Dems decide that, by golly, why, they’ll teach their party a lesson and stay home and not vote — and therefore and let Republicans (again) come to power and consolidate their hold on the courts and bureaucracy — Jeb could indeed be elected.
It’s not all about Jeb Bush. It’ll also be about who the Democratic Party nominates and the state of Democracy Party unity and willingness to stomach compromise within the Democratic Party.
In reality, Jeb Bush’s biggest hurdle will be to get the nomination.
He has the establishment. He’ll get some conservatives.
But it’s unlikely he’ll ever win the hearts of those who are now swooning over Rand Paul or, perhaps, even over Paul Ryan.
And if he DOES get the nomination, he talks the talk of a GOPer who wants to reach out and be inclusive quite well. He comes across as a thoughtful Republican who puts mind in gear, rather than vomit up the latest talking points uttered by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Fox and Friends or a top conservative blogger.
So don’t write Jeb Bush off yet.
Would’t be prudent.