Do you ever get the sense that someone doesn’t like you? Its not a super-obvious thing, of course, but every once in a while, possibly, say, because I’m routinely “revealed” to be a “closeted liberal” by the comments section, I get the sense that someone just isn’t about to fall all over themselves in an effort to be my friend. It doesn’t really bother me – I’m fantastic, so it’s really their loss – but I at least know about it.
Jeb Bush has clearly never possessed that talent. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he and his team apparently thought that the multitudes were simply joshing him when they said they weren’t thrilled at the prospect of a third President Bush, and that everyone was simply being facetious when they noted that a Jeb Bush candidacy would make them run straight into the arms of pretty much any other Republican candidate. Except for Rick Santorum. None for Rick Santorum.
Anyway, they’ve just noticed that no one was, indeed, joking. Just a couple of months too late.
In interviews this week, dozens of Bush backers and informed Republicans — most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to comment candidly — described an overly optimistic, even haughty exploratory operation. Strategic errors were exacerbated by unexpected stumbles by the would-be candidate and internal strife within his team, culminating in a staff shake-up this week…On the stump, Bush has stuck to his pledge not to shift to the right to win the nomination, but his middle-of-the-road positions on immigration and education have come off more as out of step with the base of his party than shrewdly pragmatic. His wonky question-and-answer exchanges with voters sometimes resemble college lectures rather than a disarming appeal for votes.
“We’ve learned that the prospect of a big financial advantage is not going to keep people out of the race and that the notion of a new face is stronger than we might have thought,” Vin Weber, an outside Bush adviser, said in an interview. “That requires modest adjustments in strategy, not wholesale changes.”
Maybe its just that no one likes Jeb Bush.
I mean, call me crazy.
I was there for his debutante speech at CPAC and, looking back, its pretty clear that he was convinced that he could surreptitiously overwhelm the crowd (a notion that was quickly foiled when a blogger caught him loading his supporters on to busses in downtown DC), and that he could wow the crowd with his “common sense” approach to governance. Combine that with an endless supply of cash from his brothers’ supporters and Mitt Romney’s Wall Street cronies, and he’d be set to take this thing before the dust even cleared from his quick CPAC exit. Then, he’d weather the storm with media-friendly rhetoric as the rest of his opponents slowly wilted under the pressure.
Oddly enough, the strategy didn’t work. The field this year is bigger and smarter. As we reported earlier, George W. Bush’s donors like Ted Cruz better than they like the former Presidents’ brother. The notoriety that comes with the Bush name is mostly negative. Jeb Bush talks way too much – and way too unapologetically – about issues that divide even centrist conservatives, like Common Core education plans and immigration reform. And while that’s all super subtle (at least, it seems, to the Bush campaign), the fact that he’s earned Mitt Romney’s allegiance and love should tell you something: the man who thought he could win by never taking a position on anything is not the best model for your campaign to go with.
Nothing about this was ever going to go right from the beginning. As Allahpundit notes, there’s no way this race was going to be anything close to easy for anyone, let alone a guy everyone hated from the start. Sometimes you wonder why they pay anyone on a campaign.
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