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May 02, 2014 3:37 PM Comfy Old Sweater

By Ed Kilgore

In a nice contrast to the New York Times piece about Republican donors wanting to get the band back together for Jeb Bush, the Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter (speaking of “getting the band back together,” I didn’t realize she had returned to the Cook shop) has a column up discussing the obstacles Jeb would have to surmount in his own party and the general electorate.

Walter covers the usual public opinion polls showing a lack of Jeb-o-mania among Republicans, and the lack of great public enthusiasm generally for a Bush dynastic return. But what I thought most interesting was her focus on how much politics has changed since Jeb ran his last race in 2002:

Talk to those who know Jeb Bush and they’ll tell you that family considerations are weighing most heavily on his decision to run. But, what’s most concerning to those who have worked with the former Governor is the fact that he’s been out of the game for so long. His “it’s an act of love” moment was less about “truth-telling,” they say, and more about a lack of discipline and practice. That was the same reason they gave for his confusing and contradictory response to comprehensive immigration reform last spring. Moreover, the rules of the game have changed A LOT since he was last on the ballot in 2002. Jeb has never had to campaign with SuperPACs, the Tea Party, Twitter, YouTube, or camera phones. The press has only just begun to dig into his private sector work, which will bring its own set of controversies. And then there’s his support of Common Core education standards which run counter to that of the GOP base.

Jeb sounds kind of like Fred Thompson did in 2008, when all he seems to have absorbed about the changing nature of politics was that this Intertube thing meant you didn’t have to campaign personally all that much anymore, which was fine with him. His inability to adjust to the pace and scrutiny and new rules of politics turned out to be fatal. If, God forbid, I were close to Jeb Bush, I’d put him through some sort of hellish campaign boot camp to see if he could handle it before he got anywhere close to an announcement.

Walter says that for Republican Establishment types, Jeb Bush is like a “comfy old sweater.” He better get well out of his and their comfort zone before launching another Restoration.

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.

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