The Self-Immolation of Jeb Bush - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Self-Immolation of Jeb Bush

Marco Rubio is another Obama. And oh, by the way, he should resign his Senate seat because he’s running for president.

Remember back there in September when there were gasps from Establishment GOP types and some in the media because Donald Trump said this?

Donald Trump: I have to tell you one story, do you mind? So Bush is the mentor of Rubio and everybody said, “This is politics at its lowest and worst.” I can’t stand these politicians. Right? So Bush is the mentor and he goes out and he says, “Yes,” and he pushed and everybody said, Rubio will never run because it would be disrespectful to his mentor and I understand that. That’s called loyalty, right? That’s sort of nice. Hello, folks, how are you? That’s sort of nice. You’re loyal, I believe in that. So everybody said, “Rubio will never run,” the great genius pundits, they’re on Fox and CNN and MS[NBC]. They’re all there and “Oh, no, he’ll never run.” He runs, they’re all wrong. Very disloyal. It was disloyal. Very young. He runs. And they ask Bush, “What do you think of Rubio?”

Rubio comes out and he’s talking about Bush and, you know, “What do you think of Rubio?” “He’s my dear friend. He’s so wonderful. I love him so much.” Then there’s Rubio, who’s running against Bush, and he probably shouldn’t be from a loyalty standpoint, the veterans know what I mean about loyalty, right? Right? Right? So they ask Rubio, “What do you think of Bush?” Oh, he’s my dear friend. Wonderful, just wonderful. They hate each other. They hate. Trust me, I know. They hate so much. They hate more than anybody in this room hates their neighbor. Any. But it’s political bulls—, do you understand? It’s true. It’s true.

Trump, but of course, caught media flak for this. But?

But here we are weeks later and there stands Florida’s supposed brothers-in-arms on the stage of the latest GOP debate — and without so much as a howdy do Jeb Bush, who, it was reported, failed to shake Marco Rubio’s hand when he walked on stage to stand next to him, calmly turns to his much touted protégé and attacks — demanding his resignation from the Senate because Marco has the nerve to miss Senate votes while campaigning for president.

To which Rubio replied by calmly dismantling the mentor’s argument, noting that Bush seeks to emulate Senator John McCain’s lonely battle for the 2008 GOP nomination but conveniently forgets how many Senate votes McCain had to miss to do that — with Jeb never complaining.

Worse? Rubio did not bring it up but would have been well on point to note that both Jeb’s brother George and their Dad spent all kinds of time away from their responsibilities as, respectively, governor of Texas and Vice President of the United States to run their own successful presidential campaigns. And, of course, no word from Jeb criticizing either for doing what he accuses Rubio of doing. 

Trying to suddenly take down his friend, Bush looked petulant, grudge bearing. A continuation of an earlier moment in South Carolina in which he pouted:

If this election is about how we’re going to fight to get nothing done, then I don’t want any part of it. I don’t want to be elected president to sit around and see gridlock just become so dominant that people literally are in decline in their lives. That is not my motivation. I’ve got a lot of really cool things I could do other than sit around, being miserable, listening to people demonize me and me feeling compelled to demonize them. That is a joke. Elect Trump if you want that.”

What to make of this sequence of events? Added to the stories about worried donors, bad debates, and absolutely lousy polls?

I’m not often in agreement with Hillary Clinton Super PAC chief and ex-Bill Clinton aide Paul Begala — but when he says post-the-CNBC-debate that Jeb is “toast” I couldn’t agree more.

Jeb Bush is without doubt a nice person. An accomplished ex-Governor of Florida. His friend and my fellow CNN commentator Ana Navarro’s thick or thin loyalty to him is surely a testament to his character. But while his last name has proven to be a decidedly mixed blessing for him, it is very fair to say that as a stand-alone candidate this campaign season has not been Jeb Bush’s finest moment. Whatever his political skills that made him a popular Florida governor they are either missing in action now or, more probably, are simply not the right skills for the 2016 election.

From the moment his campaign began to take shape with a sweep into Washington to vacuum up big lobbyist dollars to his awkward attack on Rubio at the CNBC debate — an attack that totally backfired and has given real energy to his protégé’s campaign — it can safely be said that Jeb was just tone deaf to the mood of the American people. Early on in his campaign, sitting down to talk with Fox’s Sean Hannity, Sean pressed him on the then early stages of the Trump campaign. Bush’s response was an almost literal eye rolling of disdain, which telegraphed in a second everything that was to come.

For all of his smarts, Jeb Bush effectively if unwittingly presented himself as a man who was entitled to the job. A Republican version of Hillary Clinton, impatient with those who dared to question his deserved inevitableness. Whether he was out there supporting Common Core or denigrating Donald Trump, the message Bush communicated was that of the snooty patrician who deigned, on occasion, to talk with the serfs who owed him the job. It was a lousy message, and it was underlying everything he seemed to say and do. Eventually casting Jeb Bush as just all thumbs when it came to running for president.

Unfair? Maybe. But inevitable based on his choices and actions.

In the not-yet-end, Donald Trump, yet again, showed an uncanny ability to perceive the real truth of a situation. In this case that truth being the much hyped relationship of Bush and Rubio. One didn’t have to be a decades-old participant in Florida politics to pick up the undercurrent of resentment of the Bushies to the Marcoistas. Marco hadn’t waited his turn, was that message, as if the presidency of the United States were an inheritance and Jeb some sort of crown prince under challenge from a grubby, over-ambitious pretender to the throne.

In short? As my colleague Scott McKay notes in “Bye, Jeb” this is the moment that the “CNBC debate marked the end of the Bush family’s hold on Republican politics.” And I would add, a hold that was solely due to Ronald Reagan’s graciousness and ability to unite the GOP. Never did Reagan believe that his hard-fought victory of grass-roots conservatives would be used to raise taxes (Bush 41), abandon the fight for limited government (the Bush 43 decision not to abolish the Department of Education but expand it instead), and that yet a third Bush would emerge trying to claim the Reagan mantle supporting even more encroachment of the feds (Common Core) and blithely proposing illegal immigration should be excused as an “act of love.”

The harsh truth is that the Jeb for president campaign has been one long series of entirely predictable mistakes. The wrong man in the wrong campaign at the wrong time.

Or, to quote Paul Begala: Jeb is toast.

Yes. He is.

And it tells you everything you need to know about why he is toast when you see the stories that the Bush and Establishment Insiders are stunned at the fact.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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