Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 7, 2011

LET THE JEB BOOMLET BEGIN.... Former two-term Florida Gov. John Ellis "Jeb" Bush (R) has said he's not going to run for president, at least in 2012, and I haven't seen any evidence to suggest otherwise. But I suspect we'll soon see a "Run, Jeb, Run" boomlet anyway.

National Review has a cover story on Jeb Bush in its new issue, and Rich Lowry follows up today with a piece arguing that Jeb should run in 2012, not 2016.

Four years after leaving the Florida governor's mansion, he remains one of the most impressive Republican politicians in the country, a formidable policy mind with the political chops to drive conservative reforms even out of office. So why isn't he running for president? Bush told Miller what he's said to others, too -- he won't run in 2012, but he'll consider 2016. This is a mistake. Bush should run now...

Oddly enough, I'm not inclined to dismiss the idea out of hand. If the guy's name was John Ellis Smith instead of John Ellis Bush, I imagine he'd be a leading contender, if not the frontrunner. (Of course, realistically, John Ellis Smith probably wouldn't have been elected governor in Florida in the first place, so the hypothetical is admittedly flawed.)

Bush clearly brings quite a bit to the table -- he's the former chief executive of the nation's largest swing state, where he remains quite popular. He's perceived as serious about public policy, and cares about reaching out to Hispanic voters. What's more, the 2012 field is likely to include plenty of GOP contenders, but none of them is impressive or striking fear into the hearts of Democrats.

That said, Lowry's case wasn't especially persuasive. He argues, for example, that by 2016, "Jeb will have been out of office ten years." Do Republicans really care about this? Newt Gingrich hasn't held a day job in 13 years, and he's apparently not only running, but is being taken seriously. Jeb can't keep busy until '16?

Lowry added that the Bush name has been rehabilitated, and that Jeb is "different" from his father and brother -- a fact, Lowry added, people will "realize" as soon as they "see him on the national stage."

All told, I think it's a tough sell. The unmitigated trainwreck of George W. Bush's presidency hasn't been forgotten that quickly -- the stench of failure surrounding that name won't fade too quickly -- and while Jeb's style is distinct from his brother's, I suspect a fairly significant chunk of the population would respond to another Bush candidacy by asking, "Hasn't that family done enough damage already?"

The last name "Bush" has been on the Republican ticket in 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000, and 2004.* I question whether the public would welcome adding 2012 to the list.

* Postscript: Since 1952, there have been 15 Republican presidential tickets. How many of those 15 did not feature the name Nixon, Dole, or Bush? Just two: 1964 and 2008.

Steve Benen 10:50 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (24)

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There's no question that he'll be the anointed one in 2016...and the American people will gladly vote for him.

Posted by: SaintZak on February 7, 2011 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

"The unmitigated trainwreck of George W. Bush's presidency hasn't been forgotten that quickly "

-here, yes; other places not so much. The G. W. Rehab is already underway.

Even Dick Cheney, for Pete's sake, spoke at Reagan's 100th on Saturday. . .

Posted by: DAY on February 7, 2011 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

He definitely appeals to the Whoreporatist wing of the party. And, except for immigration, I think he'll appeal to the religious and Teabagger/Birch wing.

He may hold off initially to see which way the wind blows, but if Sarah or someone else the Whoreporatist wing doesn't like starts to look like they might win the nomination, Bush might be "coerced" into throwing his hat in the ring.

I mean, really, what other reasonable, credible candidate do they have?
Mitt? Wrong flavor of Christian.

I do hope the public remembers how not great the first one was, and how putrid the second was was.

But this is a country with a short memory and a loud, bought and paid for, media.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 7, 2011 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

No Ricky, Jeb isn't different from the two previous Bush presidents. The first one was a run of the mill, mediocre but hard working establishment patrician. The second was a moronic fake redneck legacy idiot. I don't know what Jeb is, but pairing up 41 and 43 in any way doesn't make sense.

Posted by: emjayay on February 7, 2011 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Saint Zak here. By 2016, the Bush rehabilitation project will be complete. Nostalgia for the aughts will rule the day and Jeb shall reap the reward. 2012 is too soon and Mitt has most of the chits that would've gone to Jeb.

Posted by: walt on February 7, 2011 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Lowry's from-thin-air claim that the Bush presidency has been rehabilitated -- presumably based on the midterm result -- would have had its equivalent in Dems claiming in 1983 (after another rough economy-driven midterm) that the Carter presidency has been positively re-evaluated.

Come to think of it, the Dems implicitly made that case by nominating Carter's VP. As I recall, that worked out really well.

Posted by: demtom on February 7, 2011 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Scares the shit out of me. I lived with him as Governor for 8 years . Duplicitous backstabbing weasel who at every turn attempted to circumvent the will of the people. Plus he got Chimpy elected . If republicans love Ronnie they will adore GW after the memory fades. This country is destined to go in the shitter through abject stupidity .

Idiocracy : The Documentary

Posted by: John R on February 7, 2011 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Other Bush would be a better contender if Hillary Clinton had been elected president in 2008. The harmony of the spheres. Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton, Bush.

And then it would be Chelsea's turn.

And then one of the Bush twins.

Posted by: Grumpy on February 7, 2011 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

This reprehensible turd (Jeb, that is) has two things going for him - (1) Most Americans are stupid, and (2) Most Americans have a very short memory. In a decent world, the entire Bush clan would be serving a life sentence in a federal penitentiary.

Posted by: Sam Simple on February 7, 2011 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't there an implicit assumption in Jeb's response that Obama is going to be re-elected? If Jeb is saying that he certainly won't run in 2012, but that he's looking at 2016 it looks to me like the subtext is "look, Obama's going win this thing in 2012 and I plan on being around in 2016 when the country's had a good long time to forget what it means to actually have a republican president..."

Posted by: Brendon on February 7, 2011 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Lowry added that the Bush name has been rehabilitated

Yes, so much so, his brother George can't travel to Switzerland for fear of being arrested on war crimes charges.

Posted by: sue on February 7, 2011 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

The Bush name got a big push during the Super Bowl. W was featured multiple times sitting in the have-mores' box. The announcers seemed in awe of his presence. I figured it was Fox's preamble to Jeb's run for president.

Posted by: mlm on February 7, 2011 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

If JB is truly the "smart one", he knows that 2012 is too soon, no matter how much the conservative press fluffs him.

2016 is a long way off, we have to wait until the 2012 primaries run their course, and see who gets picked as veep and if anyone makes a splash at the convention before handicapping that one.

And if the republican candidate were to actually win in 2012
("Good Lord! - choke"), then Jebby will be looking at 2020 at the earliest.

Posted by: rip on February 7, 2011 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

G.H.W.Bush always considered Jeb the "smart one" and the son most suited to the Presidency. This line of thought was hardly a Bush family secret and has knawed on W his whole life. The invasion of Iraq was as much an "I'll show my dad I'm a big boy" as much as it was a swipe at Jeb. But lets keep in mind that W would never been "elected" president if it were not for extreme criminal acts by Jeb in the 2000 election.
Jeb can talk, and make sentences, but other than that he's just another Bush kid who's made a living off the old man's reputation. Let him run.

Posted by: T2 on February 7, 2011 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Since 1952, there have been 15 Republican presidential tickets. How many of those 15 did not feature the name Nixon, Dole, or Bush? Just two: 1964 and 2008."

It's worse than this if you limit the consideration to winning Republican tickets.

Since 1932, there has been no winning Republican presidential ticket without the name Nixon or George Bush on it.

Posted by: HydroCabron on February 7, 2011 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Including Dole in the list is a bit gratuitous - he was only on the GOP ticket twice. Even without him the GOP had either a Nixon or a Bush on the ticket nearly 75% of the time. Since none of the Nixon progeny took up politics, it's the Bush's who've turned the U.S. Executive Branch into the family business.

Jeb's smart to avoid 2012; Obama will be an incumbent, which is tough to knock off. Plus the GOP will still be under the spell of Sister Sarah. Best to let the teabaggers take the party down in flames and then come back in 2016 looking all presidenty.

Posted by: jheartney on February 7, 2011 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Jeb Bush is also smart enough not to sacrifice himself on the GOP altar in 2012 when he only has to wait 4 years until Obama is out of office.

Who do the DEMS have for 2016?

Posted by: JEA on February 7, 2011 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

HydroCabron -

Since Hoover lost in '32, you could actually say that they haven't won since 1928 without a Nixon or a Bush.

Posted by: jheartney on February 7, 2011 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Two words ast to how the Bush Legacy can be rebuilt: Rick Scott.

Now FL gov, he was head of Columbia HCA - which , as we all know ....

"In settlements reached in 2000 and 2002, Columbia/HCA plead guilty to 14 felonies and agreed to a $600+ million fine in the largest fraud settlement in US history. Columbia/HCA admitted systematically overcharging the government by claiming marketing costs as reimbursable, by striking illegal deals with home care agencies, and by filing false data about use of hospital space. They also admitted fraudulently billing Medicare and other health programs by inflating the seriousness of diagnoses and to giving doctors partnerships in company hospitals as a kickback for the doctors referring patients to HCA. They filed false cost reports, fraudulently billing Medicare for home health care workers, and paid kickbacks in the sale of home health agencies and to doctors to refer patients. In addition, they gave doctors "loans" never intending to be repaid, free rent, free office furniture, and free drugs from hospital pharmacies.

In late 2002, HCA agreed to pay the U.S. government $631 million, plus interest, and pay $17.5 million to state Medicaid agencies, in addition to $250 million paid up to that point to resolve outstanding Medicare expense claims In all, civil law suits cost HCA more than $2 billion to settle, by far the largest fraud settlement in US history."

Posted by: bigtuna on February 7, 2011 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Well, day-yumm, bigtuna.

I knew that there was something.

I knew in what general part of the world that something lived.

But I had no idea of the details, or of the magnitude.

And I had no idea that there was so much I didn't know. (Usually, I at least know where my areas of ignorance are, and it's almost always by choice.)

So thank you, bigtuna, for correcting that.

And THANK YOU, LIBERAL MEDIA, for keeping me so well-informed!

Um, if there's anything else of similar magnitude / impact out there that I might not have heard of, hints as to what I should be reading would be appreciated...

Posted by: smartalek on February 7, 2011 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

What's really interesting is to read the comments from Rich Lowrey's article. Most of those people don't think Bush is conservative ENOUGH! They also don't like the Bush family. At least we share something...

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on February 7, 2011 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

The Bush crime family should be kept as far away from the halls of power as possible. Period. Full stop.

Why do some Americans seem to want a royal family in this country? This is the USA, dagnabit! We don't need no steenking royalty.

Posted by: josef on February 7, 2011 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

So Obama has to get elected again in 2012 for Jeb to get elected in 2016?

Otherwise Jeb has to run in 2012. Because if the voters put a Rep in the White House in 2012, Jeb wouldn't run against the incumbent. Of course the incumbent could quit half way through her term...

Posted by: Skip on February 7, 2011 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Am I right in thinking Florida is a cesspool of Carl-Hiassen-scored corruption and double dealing? Maybe the current fraud-happy governor and the election debacle of 2000 will make us realize that Florida is not a state we wish to reward with national emulation by electing its former governors to higher office, even those without the deadly last name Bush.

Posted by: wesfroga on February 7, 2011 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK



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