I still remember Bush Sr’s Term as “The Bush Abdication” that followed “The Reagan Revolution.” His refusal to even try to pretend to care about Reagan’s principles—his re-regulation of the economy and his raising of taxes after making an Obama-like pledge to never do so—gave conservatives no reason to show up at the polls.
With his son, I had high hopes. I thought George W. Bush’s time governing Texas would mean a different ruling philosophy than his dad’s. In retrospect, I had no real reason to be hopeful. But Bush promised a humbler foreign policy and no nation building. I just assumed he would slow down the growth of government and stop the Clinton-Gore executive power grabs. My wife and I prayed for him while the conflict erupted in Florida.
And we all know how that turned out.
So what is this?
Jeb Bush is casting a shadow over the entire field of potential Republican presidential candidates, as the former Florida governor continues to ponder a run in 2016 and keep his political options open.
On one hand, the Bush name, a network of donors and his relatively conservative record as governor make Mr. Bush a force to be reckoned with.
But the Bush name also could work against him. Even his mother waffled on whether the country is ready for another member of her family to run for the White House.
“Asking whether Jeb Bush reshapes the presidential field is like asking whether LeBron James reshapes a basketball team,” said Brett Doster, a Florida-based Republican Party strategist who worked on Mr. Bush’s first gubernatorial campaign in 1993.
“If you look at the Republican field minus Jeb Bush, you have some potential stars out there, but nobody knows whether they can put together the grand effort needed to win the nomination and go on to win the White House,” he said. “With Jeb, people are immediately struck by his intellectual heft. He is a serious policymaker and you get the sense that he could go all the way.”
Jeb Bush has intellectual heft?
What Jeb Bush has going for him is that he is not a Democrat and he has money and access to money. The story acknowledges that the Tea Party has no interest in Jeb. But his Republican supporters claim that they might not have any other options.
Whoever wins the backing of the Republican Party establishment will be hard to beat, they said.
“For all the Sturm und Drang regarding the tea party in the Republican nominating process, it’s going to be hard for someone who lacks widespread establishment support to win the nomination,” said Mr. Kondik and Mr. Sabato, referring to Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
You have to admit, they have a point. It has worked now two elections in a row with first McCain and then Romney. In fact, it has worked that way for the establishment in every election since 1988.
I’m not making any rash vows about never voting for Jeb if he wins the primary. But I’m going to do all I can to never reach the point where I am forced to choose between him and the Democrat candidate.