Monday, February 7, 2011

Jeb in 2012?

Rich Lowry makes the case that Jeb Bush may well be the best presidential candidate of conservative Republicans in this election cycle:
“Four years after leaving the Florida governor’s mansion, he remains one of the most impressive Republican politicians in the country, a formidable policy mind with the political chops to drive conservative reforms even out of office. So why isn’t he running for president? Bush told Miller what he’s said to others, too — he won’t run in 2012, but he’ll consider 2016. This is a mistake. Bush should run now . . .”
You can read Lowry’s eight plausible reasons why Jeb should run now for yourself. It’s not for me to be telling conservative Republicans who their candidate for president should be in this or any other election cycle.  Yet when I try to step into Republicans’ partisan and ideological shoes I have a hard time seeing a candidate with as much going for him as Jeb Bush. And when I step back into my own comfortable footwear, he’s probably the candidate who scares me the most politically (and without exciting as many fears for the well-being of the country as some of the other leading candidates). When I try to view Bush from the right, I don’t see how you could do much better; when I view him through my own eyes from the left, it’s easy to see how we all could do a lot worse.

But isn’t Jeb’s being his father’s son and his brother’s brother disqualifying? I can’t see why that’s true now that H.W. is a beloved elder-statesman and W’s favorable ratings are rivaling Obama’s. I’m sure a lot of people get as queasy as I do at the thought of another Bush in the White House, but then I never voted for the first two. People who contemplated voting for any of the Bushes would probably contemplate voting for another one.  I don’t remember anyone saying that either Bobby or Ted Kennedy was disqualified from the presidency by virtue of being Jack’s brother--indeed, I doubt that it would ever have occurred to anyone that Ted was qualified had he not been Jack’s brother. In any event, Jeb’s DNA doesn’t seem any less bearable a burden than Romney’s association with RomneyCare, or Palin’s high negatives or Daniels’s rocky relationship with social conservatives, etc.

If Jeb really wants to be president, being Jeb Bush shouldn‘t stop him.


Osama Von McIntyre said...

Well, do you think that Bush may have a branding problem?

Ron Replogle said...

OVM: Yes, he'd do better on balance if his name weren't Bush. But I think his "branding problem" is getting less formidable all the time, and is probably a lot less formidable already than Romney's, Palin's, Huckabee, Gingich's et al. among the Republican base. Moreover, Jeb has a more impressive record (if only because he was running a bigger state with a much more diverse electorate) than untarnished brands like Pawlenty and Daniels--along with a better capacity to appeal to latinos and social conservatives.

Finally, the Bush brand might not hurt him as much in a general election against Obama as you'd think inasmuch as it would kill him only among people who wouldn't be voting for a Republican anyway. Granted there are indepedents up for grabs who won't relish having another Bush in the WH. But Obama will have new branding problems of his own among them. In my judgment, JB could win.

Anonymous said...

This is a fascinating idea and would certainly put the Republican race in a tailspin in 2012. I read the Lowry piece (thanks for the link) -- it said that Jeb said he wouldn't run in 2012 but maybe 2016. By then, any branding problem will be long gone, so maybe that's the best bet. But I see your point that he could be quite the candidate - and a nice departure from Romney, Palin, etc.