A question that keeps bothering me on why another Bush would feel so entitled as to unleash another presidency of A WAR ON ANOTHER LUCKLESS COUNTRY, DEATHS by the thousands, AND A RECESSION on America may not be answered by Mr. Bai’s essay here but it does give me hope that this guy is one Bush too many for good old USA, to put a twist on his mother’s words
Will Jeb Bush who has already raised oodles of money – not unexpected – run away with the Republican nomination although not as readily and as fast as George The Son, and thereafter, America would be saddled with Three Bushes in a single generation.
What in the world has this family done, and what have they sacrificed for America to keep almost changing batons to the White House.
Pardon, Mr. Bai for the switched title; at least, I’ve kept “You are a Bush”.
Jeb, get ahold of yourself
By Matt Bai/Yahoo Politics
Despite what you may have read or watched or come across in a fortune cookie, Donald Trump isn’t actually running away with the Republican nomination, and the only thing he’s “dominating” right now is media coverage. Here’s some perspective for you: As late as October 2011, a pizza magnate named Herman Cain was leading the Republican field with roughly 30 percent of the vote, or about the same as Trump’s zenith in recent polls.
The main difference is that Mitt Romney had locked down the establishment vote in 2011 and was running just a few points behind. Trump, on the other hand, looks like the Big Kahuna mainly because the vast majority of the Republican vote remains divided among more than a dozen serious competitors, none of whom has yet managed to pull away from the pack.
In other words, Trump isn’t really winning the presidential contest so much as all the other candidates are losing it. And no one is losing it faster or with more determination than Jeb Bush.
It was a spectacularly bad week for Bush, who has dropped to around 10 percent in both national and New Hampshire polls. (The latter matters more than the former.)
First he tried to out-Trump Trump on illegal immigration by decrying so-called anchor babies. Then he tried to clean that up, in a petulant news conference, by saying the whole problem really started with Asians. Because, you know, what Republicans really need right now is another massive nonwhite segment of society that won’t vote for them.
And all of this was playing out while Bush’s campaign admitted that some of its top staff was already taking pay cuts in anticipation of a long slog through the winter, which is generally not a sign that things are going according to plan.
What surprises me about Bush isn’t that he’s a little out of practice. It’s more that he seems not to fully grasp what makes his campaign viable in the first place.
If you think about it for more than a minute, the Bush dynasty that Jeb seeks to restore is highly unusual, if not anomalous, in American politics. Oh, sure, we’ve always had families who influence state or national politics from one generation to the next — Roosevelts and Kennedys, Browns and Cuomos. There’s nothing new about that.
But in just about every case you can think of, those dynasties are all built on the idea of returning to some moment of greatness or some larger ideal. The whole Kennedy fetish, spanning half a century now, is at its core a desire to restore the long-lost promise of Camelot, which for a lot of ’60s liberals still represents a utopian moment (JFK’s centrism notwithstanding).
To take a more current example, the underlying premise of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns — both in 2008 and now — is a certain nostalgia for the economic boom time of the 1990s. That’s not an intergenerational dynasty, exactly, but it will be once Chelsea jumps into the arena.
The Bush dynasty is different. George H.W. Bush was, truth be told, a mediocre politician who had to prove he wasn’t the Connecticut moderate his father, Prescott, had been. (This he achieved mostly by eating pork rinds.) He found himself atop the ticket in 1988 almost by default and then became only the second elected president since the Great Depression to be booted from office after a single term.
His son George W. Bush managed to get enough distance from his father’s tax-raising legacy to win two terms, but his presidency fell apart halfway through and he left office with historically low approval ratings, even in his own party. Now Jeb has to run from his brother’s record.
In other words, the Bushes just keep coming, but far from representing some bygone triumph in Republican or national politics, they’re constantly having to dissociate themselves from the last failure. Which raises the question: How can this be a dynasty at all?
The answer, I think, has to do with the moment in which George H.W. Bush ascended to national office. Remember that “Poppy” ran for president in 1980, just as the Southern and Western conservative forces led by Ronald Reagan were about to overwhelm the old-line, Eastern Republican establishment. That’s how he ended up vice president in the first place; Reagan needed to calm the nerves of moderates, and when Gerald Ford wasn’t willing to join him, Bush became the acceptable choice.
As the years passed, the coalition of forces Reagan unleashed — evangelicals, states’ rights crusaders, intellectual neoconservatives — became stronger. The party’s fading, moneyed establishment kept looking around for some kind of bulwark, some familiar and reliable presence to hold off the siege.
By then, though, most of the old establishment families, the Tafts and the Lodges and other species of dinosaur, had either been swept away by the conservative tide or had drifted from the fold. The last Rockefeller to serve (Jay, the former West Virginia senator) cast off his Republican roots at an early age. The last Chafee in line (Lincoln) is now running for the Democratic nomination, even if no one knows it.
That leaves the Bushes, who never did quit. Because George H.W. Bush managed to become president for a while, he became the de facto patriarch of the dying establishment. And though his sons tried to modernize the family brand by going off to Texas and Florida, their last name alone has always been enough to reassure Republicans who were more interested in governing than in social crusades or storm-the-Bastille movements.
And so it is that the Bushes keep underperforming as presidents, and yet every four or eight years, as predictable as a dry day in California, the party’s governing establishment keeps looking around for another Bush to run. They represent the last stand of the old GOP.
This is the main reason why the party’s more pragmatic, pro-business interests have poured more than $100 million into Jeb’s super-PAC, even though he hasn’t held office for eight years. And it’s what Bush seemed to acknowledge about his own campaign when he said, early on, that he was willing to lose the primaries in order to win the general election.
I heard him saying that he intended to push back against tea party or anti-immigrant extremism that makes more traditional Republicans cringe. Which sounded like a solid strategy, since he was never going to win the tea party vote anyway, and since — at least to this point — the party always ends up choosing a more moderate-sounding nominee anyway.
But now I’m not sure what Bush really meant by that — and maybe neither is he. He seems to have been caught utterly unprepared for an insurgency like Trump’s or a crowd of competitors who can also speak the language of governance. Maybe he thought that just by announcing he’d clear the field of serious candidates and would end up swatting away challenges from Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.
But here he is, and if I were counseling Bush at this early stage of the campaign, I’d tell him to get ahold of himself already. Forget about Trump. His base, an unstable amalgam of celebrity worship and general contempt, represents a modest plurality of voters who were always going to go somewhere else.
In the language of social media, Trump is just trolling Bush by singling him out as a “low-energy person” and posting clever videos of his mother. It’s not really a race between them, and the more Bush behaves like it is, the further he is from righting his campaign.
What Jeb has to worry about is the much broader (though not as loud) segment of Republican voters who are looking for a credible, electable, governing nominee — and who appear to be underwhelmed with this “anchor baby” business. He should worry more about a guy like John Kasich, who didn’t waste time grandstanding at the Mexican border, and who isn’t afraid to disagree with some of the party’s reactionary elements if he comes away sounding more presidential as a result.
You’re a Bush. You’re supposed to be the candidate of the much-maligned, level-headed establishment. It’s time to start acting like it.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 28, 2015. 8:40 p.m. [GMT]