Thursday, January 28, 2016

The last throes of the Jeb Bush campaign




In many ways it looks like Jeb Bush's campaign is on life support, so it should come as no surprise that he is once again exploiting the Terri Schiavo story for his own political gain.  From the beginning, it didn't seem like the his campaign had any reason for being.  It was clear that GOP voters didn't want another typical establishment candidate, much less another Bush.  In the previous two presidential elections, Republicans had been forced to swallow bitter pills like McCain and Romney for the sake of party unity, both coming up short in the general election.  Along comes Jeb, unable in anyway to distinguish himself from these two or his brother, who many Republicans desperately wanted to disown.

Trump was successfully able to play off the widespread dissatisfaction with the GOP establishment, quickly overtaking Bush in the polls, and has only had to worry about other insurgent candidates like Carson and Cruz ever since.  The nearest establishment candidate is Marco Rubio in the national polls.  Rather than rally behind his fellow Floridian, Jeb's campaign has gone out of its way to discredit Rubio, who at this point is the only viable establishment candidate left.

I say campaign because Jeb appears to be nothing more than a pitch man for a cabal of big Republican spenders who remain determined to put him in the White House, like they did his brother George.  Jeb's SuperPac has gone after all the wrong persons, undercutting its candidate's support.  Of course, it doesn't help when Candidate Jeb has proven to be such a dud on stage and in interviews, unable to hold his own in debates and needing follow up interviews to try to explain what he meant previously, like his position on his brother's Iraq War.

His SuperPac is like a life-support machine keeping Jeb in the race long after everyone else has given him up for dead.  So, here he is again pointing to how he fought so hard for Terry Schiavo's life, when no one wanted him to, least of all her husband who had spent six long years finally getting a court order to pull the plug, only for her evangelical parents to launch a last ditch appeal, which Jeb supported and even had his brother step in to reverse the decision.  Appeals for review by the Supreme Court were denied four times before Schiavo was finally allowed to die in 2005.

One has to ask if Bush really wants to dredge this case up again, but this is a desperate man, looking for anything to cling to in the final days of his campaign.  He is polling a dismal 3.7 per cent in Iowa and 9.4 per cent in New Hampshire, well behind Trump and also behind Rubio and Kasich, the closest establishment candidates to Trump.  All it does is reinforce the impression that Jeb will say anything and do anything to get elected.  He has no core set of beliefs or ideas.  His greatest political claim to fame is that he is a Bush, which is what got him elected governor in the first place, thanks to a well-financed campaign.

The maladroit Bush never accomplished anything to speak of as governor, but was affable enough to win re-election.  There was even talk he might be the next NFL commissioner after his tenure, but the NFL couldn't wait until 2007 and named Roger Goodell in Paul Tagliabue's place.  Since then, Bush has stumbled around the country pushing one idea or another.  At one point, he even cozied up to Obama to pitch education reform, as Jeb was a big supporter of Common Core, which he later chose to disown.

Throughout the campaign, Bush has looked like a throwback to the 90s, completely out of step with the pace of this year's campaign trail that has left him far behind.  In that sense, he probably best represents the GOP establishment, which seems unwilling to admit its political base has abandoned it, still trying to pitch its odd combination of supply-side economics and social conservatism that no longer has any resonance with its electorate.  At this point, he's a presidential candidate only a mother could love.




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