Political Animal


April 27, 2012 12:14 PM Jeb Dissing Mitt?

By Ed Kilgore

Well, I suppose I should be excited by the long parade of Jeb Bush friends and associates who’ve told Politico’s Jonathan Martin that he emphatically does not want to be Mitt Romney’s running-mate. After all, according to Martin, Jebbie is “the GOP vice presidential pick that Democrats fear most — a brassy choice who would likely deliver his crucial home state, boost the ticket with Hispanics and Catholics and appeal to both conservatives and independents.” Even “Obama’s high command” knows “Bush would effectively take Florida off the map,” so who am I to suggest otherwise?

There is this little problem that the only empirical data we have on Jebbie’s immense power to deliver his home state, a recent PPP poll, suggests he’d only move the needle from a 45-50 deficit to a 46-49 deficit. And beyond Florida, there is a pretty widespread perception that a GOP nominee who (a) wants to keep voters from thinking even for a moment about George W. Bush and the mess he left the economy in, and (b) is part of a party that now considers the 43d president a big-spending, immigrant-coddling heretic who betrayed conservative principles, would probably like JB a lot better if he campaigned like Madonna, with no last name.

Interestingly, the only time that perception comes up in Martin’s piece is via the concern that dynastic issues might create pressure on Jebbie to pledge he’d never run for president. “But Bush’s loyalists dismiss such a ploy as a nonstarter.” Why do that when you and half the party wishes that you, not Mitt, was at the top of the ticket to begin with?

In any event, Jeb hasn’t issued a Sherman Statement just yet, so maybe we should all remain very afraid.

NOTE: My references to “Jebbie” may seem to violate my earlier foreswearance of mocking diminutives for conservative politicians, notably Rick (formerly “Ricky”) Santorum. I deploy this term for the former governor of Florida only because it is reportedly how he is addressed by his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, who also reportedly was grooming him, not his older brother, to become president. It’s worth remembering that we have the late Lawton Chiles—who defeated Jeb Bush in his first gubernatorial bid in 1994, and thus took him off the table for a 2000 presidential run—to thank for the eight years of W.’s administration.

Having made my point, I’ll henceforth end the “Jebbie” references unless he publicly adopts the diminutive himself in an effort to make himself even cuddlier and more lovable than he is right now.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • K in VA on April 27, 2012 12:29 PM:

    Jeb[bie] aside, I see Jonathan Martin is up to his usual creation-of-stories out of thin air. He may be a lousy reporter, but he's definitely consistent. Not that that's a good thing...

  • T2 on April 27, 2012 12:42 PM:

    lets not forget that if it were not for conducting voter fraud in his own state, his brother would not have been president. I won't.

  • c u n d gulag on April 27, 2012 12:49 PM:

    From what I remember, Jeb was Dad's boy, and "Baby Doc" W. Bush, was Mom's boy - through and through.

    Barbara's the one with the nasty, evil, and mean, streak.

    H.W. was a rich foot soldier, lackey, and waterboy, for his, and the House of Saud, families.
    That's considered being a pragmatist in his circles. And a practitioner of "Realpolitik."

    Maybe the other commenters remember better than I do, and will correct me.

  • seriously on April 27, 2012 1:09 PM:

    Ed, thanks for dropping the "Jebbie" and "Ricky" business--it only makes you look as puerile as the policy positions of these politicians actually are. And your explanation doesn't really hold water--calling someone by the childhood nickname used by his mother?!? You can do better than that.

  • Felicia on April 27, 2012 1:30 PM:

    Jeb would actually like to be POTUS some day, and he knows that will never happen if he hitches his wagon to Romney. (1) If Romney loses, the GOP will be unforgiving and he'll never get another bite at the apple. (2) If Romney wins, there will be Republican fatigue after 4-8 years and the country will not vote the Republican veep into office. (3) Jeb's not quite ready to answer for his brother's mistakes.

  • boatboy_srq on April 27, 2012 1:58 PM:

    lets not forget that if it were not for conducting voter fraud in his own state, his brother would not have been president.

    True, and not. Florida enabled SCOTUS to sElect Shrub - but it didn't cause that decision. And while it wasn't Jeb directly who arranged the voting irregularities, Katherine Harris made a very convenient scapegoat. Harris' career would serve as an object lesson for Bachmann, Palin et al - if any of them could actually learn.


    It's going to take a lot to get Jeb to run. In FL he's got good name recognition, and at least a perception of having been competent (comments above notwithstanding), but outside that GWB needs to be rehabilitated first. With progressives dismissing GWB as a brainless, inept hack, and conservatists dismissing him a a big-gubmint spender, it's going to be a while still before the Bush family name is sufficiently neutral for Jeb (or any other) to have a reasonable shot at federal office.

    Now, Jeb as FL SENATOR... that's different.

  • iyoumeweus on April 27, 2012 2:05 PM:

    Here comes the JEB! Here comes the JEB! Here comes the JEB! Not for VP but for President.

  • Kathryn on April 27, 2012 2:11 PM:

    Hi Gulag, good to see you back. What I remember reading about Barbara Bush and GW was that he was the child who worked at cheering her up after the sister Robin died which could have made them close and supports him maybe being her favorite. Don"t know if Jeb was Dad's favorite but agee that Barbara Bush is indeed does have a nasty, caustic streak.

  • Bruce Webb on April 27, 2012 2:50 PM:

    Hmm, Ed? JEB is itself a nickname and arguably as much or more a diminuitive as Jebbie.

    His actual birth name is "John Ellis Bush" hence JEB hence Jeb. Just as his son, also called 'Jeb' is actually John Ellis Bush Jr.

    I don't know whether 'Jeb' was in orgin a family nickname or perhaps a prep school nickname, but at this point worrying about making that kid name even more kidlike is locking the barn door after the horse has branded itself (and how it THAT for a mixed metaphor).

    Maybe after I hear the heartfelt apologies for 'Slick Willie' and 'Barry Soetero' I will start feeling bad about 'Mittens' and 'Jebbie. But for now? Not so much.

  • DAY on April 27, 2012 2:58 PM:

    Hey, gulag, we kept your seat warm.
    Go get a Facebook alias (it doesn't hurt!) and check out Benen's new digs. Lots of bells and whistles- and NO Craptcha. . .

  • ElegantFowl on April 27, 2012 4:04 PM:

    We can only hope for the opportunity to run against Romney/Bush 2012. (Never mind the jeb business, don't help them rebrand...)

  • c u n d gulag on April 27, 2012 4:42 PM:

    I missed ya, buddy!

    Where's Hedda Perez?

  • fignaz on April 27, 2012 5:07 PM:

    I don't see anything offensive in the use of "Jebbie". As was already pointed out above, Jeb is an acronym-based nickname to begin with. After all his little brother was widely known by one of his nicknames "W"-- though, as some might remember, the family went through all sorts of contortions to squelch the use & even deny the existence of his most popular nickname in the family: "Junior".

  • snicker-snack on April 27, 2012 6:23 PM:

    Do think Jebbie's worthy of his own eponymous verb though, ala gerrymander.

    jeb (vt) to use means beyond the ballot box to influence the results of an election.

    Examples of use:
    1. The GOP are using voter ID laws in an effort to jeb the election reults.
    2. GOP jebbing can mean anywhere from a 5 to 10% starting advantage in the self-styled home of democracy.

  • Texas Aggie on April 27, 2012 6:39 PM:

    Edward, that's Richard F.(rothy) Santorum to you. And from now on it's John Ellis Bush, not Jeb.


    And it can't be JEB Bush anyway because of the redundancy. Sort of like TAMU once had a dean named Dean so we didn't know if Dean Dean was his name and title or if he had a stutter.

  • cwolf on April 29, 2012 2:08 PM:

    ...and it doesn't mention any JEB in either his long or short form BC