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“Be The Smarter Bush Brother, Jeb; Don’t Run!”: Why Would A Guy Running For President Create A Brand Spanking New Bain Capital?

So Jeb is running. Or is he? And he’s really formidable! Or… is he?

I can’t remember in my adult lifetime a presidential candidate quite like Jeb Bush. Every presidential election we have our A-list candidates, your Clintons and your Romneys and your Humphreys and indeed your Bushes. And, every election, we have our quasi-comic-relief candidates, your Al Haigs and Gary Bauers and Bill Richardsons. These archetypes usually reside in separate life forms. But in John Ellis Bush, they exist in the same body.

The A-list case is: He’s a Bush. And… and… OK, he was the governor of a huge and electorally important state. And largely considered to have been, to those who can still remember, a successful and reasonably popular one. And there’s his Latina wife. But really, the A-list case comes down to the fact of his last name. Just as a football coach named Lombardi is going to win automatic positive “free media” until he turns out to be a total loser, a politician named Bush is going to be assumed to be a serious playah until he undeniably proves otherwise. Until then, establishment money is going to cascade to him.

The quasi-comic-relief case consists of a much longer list. First of all: Well, he’s a Bush. That is to say, while the name confers a certain status among insiders and the media, at the same time it reminds too many voters of the brother. This would be an obvious problem in a general election, but I think even in a primary. The Republican red-hots, the pols who play to the base that dominates the primary process, have been ranting against Dubya and his big-spending ways since the day he left office. There’s no reason to think the family tree will bring much good will.

The bigger thing is this. What in the world is a guy who wants to run for president doing, precisely during the months of presidential speculation, starting up an offshore private-equity firm? But Bush has done exactly that, filing the papers for BH Global Aviation with the SEC right around Thanksgiving. The fund raised $61 million in September, largely from foreign investors, and it incorporated in the U.K. and Wales to avoid paying American taxes. Business questions are raised—who starts a PE firm and bails on it in a matter of mere months?—but more salient are the political questions: Why would a candidate, on the eve of a presidential run, go out of his way to create what is in effect his very own brand spanking new Bain Capital?

Then there’s the service gap. He hasn’t been in office since January 2007, and more to the point hasn’t run a campaign since 2002. To find a presidential candidate with as long a gap between campaigns (excluding those like Eisenhower, who’d never run), you have to reach back to James Buchanan. Questions of rust will arise, of course, but more than that, we can fairly wonder whether he has a feel for the politico-culture landscape these days. The conservative movement of today is a rather fiercer creature than the one his brother held at bay with a few Scriptural dog whistles.

Here’s more, in terms of problems he’ll have with the base: He’s on the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies. Come have a look at the “our work” page at the philanthropy’s website: Beyond Coal. Vibrant Oceans. Reproductive Health. Tobacco Control. No, no guns per se, but of course Mike Bloomberg is so identified in the right-wing mind with the torching of the Second Amendment that that one will undoubtedly come up.

Beyond this there’s the pro-immigration position. Rush Limbaugh has been laying into Bush on this one. There is such a thing in presidential primary politics as a single-issue deal-breaker. Ask Rudy Giuliani about how his pro-choice position worked out for him. And Jeb, of course, will also have to deal with his outspoken support for Common Core, which the Republican base loathes.

The polls? He runs a little bit ahead of the competition, with 14 percent in the current RCP average to Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee’s 10 and Paul Ryan’s 9.7 (and Ben Carson’s 8.8)! And with regard to taking on Hillary Clinton, he does no better than any of the rest of them. He’s 5 to 10 points behind her in just about every poll. That just is not the traditional idea of the frontrunner.

Throw it all into the kettle and, what? Well, it’s possible to imagine Bush as the nominee and even as the next president. To return to the Lombardi analogy, one would always imagine that a Lombardi would have it in him to find a way to win. So it is with a Bush. They are two-for-two, after all.

But maybe that’s just a psychological mirage. Maybe it’s just as easy, if not easier, to imagine him lasting four primaries. Here’s your 2016 GOP presidential primary calendar, at least as it currently exists. It starts as usual with Iowa and New Hampshire, which seem respectively more like Huckabee/Cruz and Ryan/Paul states than Bush states. Florida doesn’t come along until March 1. Has anyone ever—or since 1976, when we really started having lots of primaries and caucuses—won a party nomination without winning a primary or caucus until March? I don’t think that can be done.

And it might be easiest of all imagining him “exploring” a candidacy for a while and then deciding the hell with it. As has been oft-observed, he doesn’t seem to want to be president, and by most accounts his wife has never been hot on the idea. It used to be frequently said back in 2000 that Jeb was “the smart brother.” Given the tribulations that await him on the hustings versus the easy millions that dangle before him in the global aviation business, the choice that would prove he’s the smart one seems pretty clear.


By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, December 17, 2014

December 18, 2014 Posted by | Election 2016, GOP Presidential Candidates, Jeb Bush | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Big Money’s Futile Search For A GOP Frontrunner”: There Is No Overriding Argument To Rally Republican Insiders

The New York Times has a well-reported article today outlining the desires of various Republican Party donors and bundlers to get behind a single establishment candidate in the 2016 presidential primary. There’s only one problem: That doesn’t seem remotely possible.

Yes, it makes sense to try to limit the intraparty war. The three potential establishment candidates — former Florida governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey governor Chris Christie and 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney — would presumably compete for the same donors and voters if they all enter the race. But each of the three has his own personal ambitions, core set of loyalists, individual and institutional strengths, and potentially fatal flaws. Why should any two such candidates cede to a third? And what of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker? Ohio governor John Kasich? Florida senator Marco Rubio? If they run, each will depend in some degree on establishment support as well.

Bush has all but dared the party to nominate someone else, saying that, if he runs, he won’t court Republican base voters so eagerly that he alienates the general electorate. He refuses to abandon his commitment to Common Core educational standards, which the base has come to perceive as ideologically sketchy and governmentally oppressive. Worse, he is unabashedly pro-immigrant in a party that has concluded that, at the end of the day, it really prefers a good deportation. Bush’s description of illegal border crossing as an “act of love” will prove a constant temptation to the devil perched on the party’s shoulder. Which of the candidates competing for the base’s roar of approval will resist the temptation to label Bush a quisling in the existential war against the Other?

Christie may be even less of a sure bet. A Department of Justice investigation into his subordinates’ creepy “Bridgegate” activities is yet to be concluded. Christie’s presidential calling card — his “character” — rides on his aggressive demeanor and the results of that investigation. But a long presidential campaign seems unlikely to serve his ambition. I have never been able to get over this Christie television ad from 1994 in which he sits with his wife and baby, and proceeds to lie to the camera about two Republican primary opponents. Yes, the ad is old. Yes, the office he sought was relatively small potatoes (a county board seat). But find me another top-tier presidential candidate who has used a family tableau with his wife — let alone his infant child — to falsely attack opponents. (Christie was subsequently sued by his opponents and, remarkably, settled out of court.)  Bridgegate. Babygate. All that shouting at regular people. Something is not right about this guy. A presidential campaign will almost certainly expose it — if the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey doesn’t first.

That leaves Romney. He’s competent, tried, true, tested. And the base — convinced that Romney’s 2012 outing proves that establishment candidates lack the real faith to win — will have conniptions if party elites try again to force him to the top of the Republican heap.

So if you’re a big Republican donor, or an ambitious bundler, who do you get behind? And how do you convince rival donors to join you? There is no favorite among the three, no overriding case to be made for any particular candidate. Which means that there is no overriding argument to rally Republican insiders representing various industries, regions and personal loyalties to abandon their personal stakes in one candidate and support a different candidate.

The only people who can clear the field are the candidates themselves. That’s usually the purpose of a primary. And it’s always the outcome.


By: Francis Wilkinson, The National Memo, December 8, 2014

December 10, 2014 Posted by | Election 2016, GOP Campaign Donors, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“GOP’s Sad New Rescue Fantasy”: George W. Bush Presents Jeb Bush 2016!

As if to underscore the GOP’s long-term leadership deficit even as a midterm victory looms, the Bush family announced a new product launch over the weekend: Jeb Bush 2016.

“No question,” son Jeb Jr. told the New York Times, “people are getting fired up about it — donors and people who have been around the political process for a while, people he’s known in Tallahassee when he was governor. The family, we’re geared up either way.” His brother George P. Bush, running for Texas land commissioner, told ABC’s “This Week” that it’s “more than likely” his father will run. “If you had asked me a few years back, I would have said it was less likely,” he said.

So they’re “fired up,” huh?  Maybe they think if they appropriate Barack Obama’s old slogan, no one will notice they’re trying to make sure that three GOP presidents in a row will come from the same family. It’s as though Republicans have given up on generating new leadership democratically and are handing it down dynastically from now on.

The project’s cheerleader, according to the Times, is former President George W. Bush, the guy whose own White House victory essentially doomed Jeb’s dreams. Now W. is rallying the Bush forces, boasting about urging his younger brother to run, even while he jokes with Fox News, “I don’t think he liked it that his older brother was pushing him.” Older brother’s famous sadistic streak obviously endures.

The last time Jeb Bush rescue fantasies overtook the GOP, it was early in the 2012 primary season, and party donors were already able to foresee the drubbing they’d endure if either dull Mitt Romney or laughable right-wingers like Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich won the nomination. That time Joe Conason ran down all the reasons a Bush run was likely to be unsuccessful: Not just his uneven record as governor, but the unsavory associates who helped him amass a real estate fortune. Mother Jones took it further last month, with “23 Reasons Why Jeb Bush Should Think Twice About Running for President.”

Then there’s the problem of the tarnished legacies of his father and brother, which didn’t exactly leave Americans, even Republicans, clamoring for four more years.

But now, the New York Times reports, Bush boosters think “President Obama’s troubles, the internal divisions of the Republican Party, a newfound nostalgia for the first Bush presidency and a modest softening of views about the second have changed the dynamics enough to make plausible another Bush candidacy.”

Like all Republicans, Jeb Bush has struggled with a gender gap in his support – the men in his family have been gung-ho about another White House run, while the woman resisted. Now, according to several reports, both mother Barbara and wife Columba have finally given their blessing to Jeb’s project.

So the family is united about the project now. But it’s not just the family, the Times reports. “The larger Bush clan” – three generations of donors, strategists, pollsters, advisers and “friends” – are even more anxious to return to the show. “They’re like horses in the stall waiting for the gate to break,” one family insider explained. “They’re all jumping up and down.”

You know who else is jumping up and down? The party’s right-wing base. Only they’re jumping up and down in anger. Bush’s support for Common Core and some kind of pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants (he’s flip-flopped on that one but still has talked about the decision to come to this country as “an act of love,” not just a crime). Bush’s latest crime, according to the right, is saying in 2012 that he would accept a deficit-cutting deal that traded $1 in new tax revenue for $10 in spending cuts.

Jeb Bush fever may be tougher to treat than Ebola. It afflicts GOP leaders with some regularity. Just five months ago, the Washington Post told us party donors were begging Bush to run. But as I noted at the time, 50 percent of Americans the paper polled had just said they wouldn’t vote for Bush under any circumstances. Still donors remain the power that matters when picking a Republican presidential nominee, and it sounds like Bush is now convincing himself the donors know what they’re doing. If he doesn’t run, they’ll be back on the Romney 2016 juggernaut. This is a party that’s out of ideas, and leaders.


By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, October 27, 2014

October 28, 2014 Posted by | Election 2016, GOP Presidential Candidates, Jeb Bush | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The New Credential For 2016”: For Republicans, “Come And Get Me, Coppers”, More Politically Acceptable Than Expressing Contrition

We’ve heard the argument before with respect to Chris Christie and Scott Walker that the abuse-of-power investigations they’ve faced could actually help them as presidential candidates, so long as they stay out of the slammer and can blame their persecution on the godless liberals. But now that Rick Perry has joined the Shadow-of-the-Hoosegow club, RealClearPolitics’ Scott Conroy offers a general theory that they’ll all benefit from a presumption that legal problems mean The Left is afraid of them and wants them hauled off in chains before they can roar through the primaries like avenging angels.

It’s a strategy that may pay dividends in a 2016 primary fight, as all three would be courting conservative voters who will likely see the investigations as badges of honor.

Bob Haus, who helmed Perry’s 2012 campaign in Iowa and is poised to reprise that role in 2016, said the “overwhelming response” from activists in the nation’s first voting state has been strongly supportive.

“They see the actions against Governor Perry for what they are: raw politics,” Haus said. “I would also say that Governor Perry has shown great strength and resolve in this matter. He and his team have managed this issue exceptionally well, and have shown they will fight this aggressively.”

In other words, “come and get me, coppers!” is a more politically effective response than anything expressing contrition or an openness to a slap on the wrist.

Now this has to be deeply frustrating to other candidates seeking 2016 traction who don’t have the credential of being threatened with imprisonment. Consider Bobby Jindal, who’s tried every stunt imaginable to get whipped-up Con-Con activists interested in his presidential availability. As it happens, Bobby was just handed a judicial setback by a state judge who issued an injunction to block Jindal from killing implementation of Common Core education standards in Louisiana–he was the state’s premier Common Core supporter until he became its premier opponent, of course–pending a trial. You have to wonder if Bobby’s brain trust has discussed ways to secure a contempt of court charge to spice things up–you know, the governor entering the courtroom brandishing a Bible and shrieking “Get thee behind me, Satan!” at the judge or something. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, August 21, 2014

August 22, 2014 Posted by | Chris Christie, GOP Presidential Candidates, Rick Perry | , , , , | Leave a comment

“City Upon A Hill”: RNC Denounces High-School History Exams

When members of the Republican National Committee gather for regularly scheduled meetings, it’s not unusual for the party to vote on assorted resolutions, expressing a formal opinion on major political subjects. Occasionally, these resolutions actually make news.

We talked earlier this year, for example, about the RNC’s surprising vote criticizing domestic surveillance programs. Last spring, Republican National Committee members also generated headlines with resolutions reiterating the party’s staunch opposition to marriage equality, while also condemning “Common Core” education standards.

It came as something of a surprise, though, to learn the RNC has also taken an interest in high-school students’ advanced-placement exams. Caitlin MacNeal reported yesterday:

The Republican National Committee on Friday denounced the College Board’s new framework for the AP U.S. History exam for its “consistently negative view of American history.”

The committee adopted a resolution during its summer meeting in Chicago condemning the exam’s new framework, according to Education Week.

In the resolution, the RNC slams the College Board’s “radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects.”

By way of an example, the RNC believes the AP framework portrays early U.S. colonists as “oppressors and exploiters while ignoring the dreamers and innovators who built our country.”

In other words, the Republican National Committee wants these advanced-placement classes to put a more positive, more deliberately patriotic spin on history.

Where are these concerns even coming from? I’m glad you asked.

Right Wing Watch explained yesterday that the RNC’s interest didn’t just come out of the blue.

The Republican National Committee recently condemned the College Board’s AP U.S. History exam framework for its purported anti-American bias, and it comes as no surprise that the resolution is identical to resolutions sponsored by Religious Right groups like Eagle Forum and Concerned Women for America that regularly assert that public schools engage in anti-American brainwashing.

Concerned Women for America’s Georgia chapter has sponsored a nearly identical resolution, as did Eagle Forum’s Alabama affiliate.

Indeed, after the RNC resolution was approved, Concerned Women for America and others wrote to the College Board, arguing that the AP classes should do more to teach high-school students that the United States is a “City upon a Hill.”

As the Education Week report added, the College Board appears to be taking the complaints seriously: “Troubled by the controversy, College Board President David Coleman released to the public a practice AP U.S. history test. Practice tests are typically only released to certified AP teachers. He also announced that the College Board will issue ‘clarifications’ about the new framework.”


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 14, 2014

August 15, 2014 Posted by | Religious Right, Republican National Committee | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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