Read My Lips: No New Bushes

Jeb Bush’s recent announcement of his intentions to “explore” a bid for the presidency came as no surprise. To Democrats, anyway. For the past year, I have listened to liberal friends tell me that the battle for the White House in 2016 would be waged between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. Just last month, while I was sharing a table at a Las Vegas show theater, an Arkansas couple who “knew” the Clintons -- doesn’t everyone down in the “Natural State”? -- opined with certainty that the GOP would be choosing Jeb Bush as its 2016 standard bearer.

This was followed by the usual damning-by-faint praise claim that Jeb is the only Republican with any chance of beating Hillary. I’ve heard that statement often enough to strengthen my belief that when Democrats pretend to be worried by the possibility of a certain Republican running in 2016, he shouldn’t. 

Since Jeb’s announcement, polls indicate that he leads the field in popularity among Republicans with 23%, his closest competitor being ten points behind. But I don’t care what the polls may show at this early stage. After all, neither Jeb nor Hillary has officially declared his/her candidacy. The “field” has yet to be plowed. The primaries lie ahead.  So only one thing can be said with any degree of certainty:  If the opposition is going out of its way to insist -- wink! wink! – that there’s only one Republican candidate capable of  victory, the GOP  had better wise up and opt for somebody else!

The fact is that the Democrats would like nothing better than to see a Bush run for president. Just his last name alone would drive liberals to the polls in droves to oppose him.  For the past six years, “Bush” has been the name blamed for everything gone wrong, both domestically and abroad. “Bush” has been Obama’s scapegoat for his failed policies. “Bush’s recession” was the albatross hung around this administration’s incapable neck. Giving the opposition an opportunity to revive the animosity by lambasting yet another Bush would be tantamount to showering them with manna from political heaven. 

It would not matter one iota if Jeb were a totally different person from his dad and brother. Or whether his position on issues differed from theirs. Or that he has a Hispanic wife. Or that he may be the smartest of the Bush clan. The only way Democrat voters are likely to perceive Jeb is as a member of a dynasty whose resurrection they are willing to do anything to prevent. 

A Bush-Clinton contest would bring into rivalry the two dynastic giants of recent decades. Considering Bill’s personal affection for George H.W. Bush, whom some say he regards as a father, such a confrontation might be rather awkward.  But loyalty has never been Bubba’s long suit when it clashes with ambition, so it is not likely that his insatiable appetite to regain the power of the presidency would be deterred by any filial feelings.

Aside from that, there are plenty of other reasons why Jeb Bush might not be the best GOP candidate in 2016. Mind you, I have nothing against him. He’s an intelligent, pleasant, thoughtful guy who performed well as Florida’s governor. He comes from a nice family. Under other circumstances, he might be a possible choice.  But at this stage of the game, he’s more likely an impossible one. 

A Bush run would turn the Republican Party around 180 degrees: from facing the future to apologizing for the past. That’s precisely where Hillary happens to be, weighed down by her former questionable actions and antics. Some of her burdensome baggage, like Benghazi, happens to be associated with the Obama administration. But others have been hauled around since the White House years, and before. If, indeed, she does run in 2016, Bill will be on the ticket as much as she, making his past policies and peccadilloes grist for the mill. Do Republicans want to spend our newly-earned political capital regurgitating history?

If Jeb were a Reagan instead of Bush, things might be different. He might match up  better against Bill Clinton, the phantom candidate,  whose image  for many Democrats  has metamorphosed from a party embarrassment into a Democratic icon  who balanced budgets, reached across the aisle,  and understood how to handle foreign leaders. So the choice for Republicans is this: does the GOP want to come across as a party replaying history, or as one whose eyes are fixed firmly on new approaches and solutions for the future?

The Republican roster remains crowded with young, ambitious, and effective wannabes whose political successes have not gone unnoticed. They are a scrappy, enthusiastic bunch, and include (among others) Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, John Kasich, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and Ted Cruz. While they have been making headlines based on the power of their political leadership, Jeb Bush has been making overtures based on the power of his political connections. And his being out of office for five crucial years could give way to the charge that he is also out of touch. 

But more important is the possible perception, hyped by a punitive press, that Jeb is a throwback from the past who inspires little enthusiasm from voters on either side of the political divide. That, incidentally, is just what the Democrats will likely be stuck with two years hence. 

In the crucial election of 2016, the Republican Party will require an updated playbook and an exciting candidate capable of general appeal among the electorate.  The GOP needs new blood in its veins and a new vision for our country.  This would preclude settling for a low-key bearer of a controversial last name.  America is already burdened by problems from her past.  We don’t need candidates who remind us of it.   

Jeb Bush’s recent announcement of his intentions to “explore” a bid for the presidency came as no surprise. To Democrats, anyway. For the past year, I have listened to liberal friends tell me that the battle for the White House in 2016 would be waged between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. Just last month, while I was sharing a table at a Las Vegas show theater, an Arkansas couple who “knew” the Clintons -- doesn’t everyone down in the “Natural State”? -- opined with certainty that the GOP would be choosing Jeb Bush as its 2016 standard bearer.

This was followed by the usual damning-by-faint praise claim that Jeb is the only Republican with any chance of beating Hillary. I’ve heard that statement often enough to strengthen my belief that when Democrats pretend to be worried by the possibility of a certain Republican running in 2016, he shouldn’t. 

Since Jeb’s announcement, polls indicate that he leads the field in popularity among Republicans with 23%, his closest competitor being ten points behind. But I don’t care what the polls may show at this early stage. After all, neither Jeb nor Hillary has officially declared his/her candidacy. The “field” has yet to be plowed. The primaries lie ahead.  So only one thing can be said with any degree of certainty:  If the opposition is going out of its way to insist -- wink! wink! – that there’s only one Republican candidate capable of  victory, the GOP  had better wise up and opt for somebody else!

The fact is that the Democrats would like nothing better than to see a Bush run for president. Just his last name alone would drive liberals to the polls in droves to oppose him.  For the past six years, “Bush” has been the name blamed for everything gone wrong, both domestically and abroad. “Bush” has been Obama’s scapegoat for his failed policies. “Bush’s recession” was the albatross hung around this administration’s incapable neck. Giving the opposition an opportunity to revive the animosity by lambasting yet another Bush would be tantamount to showering them with manna from political heaven. 

It would not matter one iota if Jeb were a totally different person from his dad and brother. Or whether his position on issues differed from theirs. Or that he has a Hispanic wife. Or that he may be the smartest of the Bush clan. The only way Democrat voters are likely to perceive Jeb is as a member of a dynasty whose resurrection they are willing to do anything to prevent. 

A Bush-Clinton contest would bring into rivalry the two dynastic giants of recent decades. Considering Bill’s personal affection for George H.W. Bush, whom some say he regards as a father, such a confrontation might be rather awkward.  But loyalty has never been Bubba’s long suit when it clashes with ambition, so it is not likely that his insatiable appetite to regain the power of the presidency would be deterred by any filial feelings.

Aside from that, there are plenty of other reasons why Jeb Bush might not be the best GOP candidate in 2016. Mind you, I have nothing against him. He’s an intelligent, pleasant, thoughtful guy who performed well as Florida’s governor. He comes from a nice family. Under other circumstances, he might be a possible choice.  But at this stage of the game, he’s more likely an impossible one. 

A Bush run would turn the Republican Party around 180 degrees: from facing the future to apologizing for the past. That’s precisely where Hillary happens to be, weighed down by her former questionable actions and antics. Some of her burdensome baggage, like Benghazi, happens to be associated with the Obama administration. But others have been hauled around since the White House years, and before. If, indeed, she does run in 2016, Bill will be on the ticket as much as she, making his past policies and peccadilloes grist for the mill. Do Republicans want to spend our newly-earned political capital regurgitating history?

If Jeb were a Reagan instead of Bush, things might be different. He might match up  better against Bill Clinton, the phantom candidate,  whose image  for many Democrats  has metamorphosed from a party embarrassment into a Democratic icon  who balanced budgets, reached across the aisle,  and understood how to handle foreign leaders. So the choice for Republicans is this: does the GOP want to come across as a party replaying history, or as one whose eyes are fixed firmly on new approaches and solutions for the future?

The Republican roster remains crowded with young, ambitious, and effective wannabes whose political successes have not gone unnoticed. They are a scrappy, enthusiastic bunch, and include (among others) Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, John Kasich, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and Ted Cruz. While they have been making headlines based on the power of their political leadership, Jeb Bush has been making overtures based on the power of his political connections. And his being out of office for five crucial years could give way to the charge that he is also out of touch. 

But more important is the possible perception, hyped by a punitive press, that Jeb is a throwback from the past who inspires little enthusiasm from voters on either side of the political divide. That, incidentally, is just what the Democrats will likely be stuck with two years hence. 

In the crucial election of 2016, the Republican Party will require an updated playbook and an exciting candidate capable of general appeal among the electorate.  The GOP needs new blood in its veins and a new vision for our country.  This would preclude settling for a low-key bearer of a controversial last name.  America is already burdened by problems from her past.  We don’t need candidates who remind us of it.