Be wary of political commonplaces, especially in volatile
You know the one about Jeb Bush, i.e. he would be a serious
candidate for president if it weren’t for his last name.
Guess who is now leading in some polls for the Republican
nomination? That’s right, Jeb Bush. At this very early point,
three years out, his last name does not hurt. It does not
hurt at all.
Of course, the GOP frontrunner has been Governor Chris
Christie of New Jersey, but he’s had some very bad public
relations weeks following a minor scandal over a bridge
closing in his home state. So far, Mr Christie has handed
the situation adroitly, but with the liberal media ganging up
on him for weeks, some damage was done. Chris Christie
has no peer today in his party, or any party, for political
communication. skills. He’s so “hot” that even, despite
Marshall McLuhan’s warning about high temperature
personalities in the “cool” media of television, the governor
has been a sensation on TV (especially “YouTube” where
he has been an fixture since he won his race for New Jersey
governor in 2009).
With the full force of the Old (and pandering-to-Democrats)
Media on him for the next few years, however, Governor
Christie will need all the grit and skill he can muster to make
it to 2016 as a still serious contender. But that lies ahead.
For now, we need to think about: “If not Christie, who?”
The obvious answers, i.e., Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio,
Mike Huckabee, et al, are each interesting fellows, and not
without notable (yet narrow) followings of their own, but
realistically none of them are truly competitive presidential
nominees yet. Paul Ryan, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and
Rick Perry might be, but each has a long way to go.
Jeb Bush was a great governor of Florida. Along with Tom
Ridge (Pennsylvania) and Mitch Daniels (Indiana), he was
a forerunner of the plenitude of outstanding Republican
governors in office today, including John Kasich (Ohio),
Nikki Haley (South Carolina), Susana Martinez (New
Mexico), Mike Pence (Indiana), Rick Scott (Florida),
Scott Walker (Wisconsin), Terry Branstad (Iowa) Rick Perry
(Texas), Rick Snyder (Michigan) and Bobby Jindal (Louisiana).
With his attractive Hispanic-American family, including son
George P. Bush (now running for statewide office in Texas),
he presents a new profile to the three-generation Bush family
image of hitherto patrician Americans.
Furthermore, the image of his brother George W., tarnished
with unpopularity at the end of his second term (2008), has
been largely restored with all but the most partisan
Democrats who resented his war policies and the fact that
he won his first election without winning the popular vote.
His father, George H.W., is now remembered mostly
positively for his single term between Ronald Reagan and
Bill Clinton. Less glamorous than the other modern U.S.
political dynasty, the Kennedys, the Bushes are, on the other
hand, decidedly less dysfunctional.
Jeb Bush is no great communicator, but his record of
accomplishment and his conservative credentials serve him
As long as fellow Floridian, Senator Marco Rubio, was a “hot”
presidential contender, and Governor Christie the leader in
the presidential polls, Mr. Bush had to be content to be in the
background of 2016 presidential politics, but with Mr. Rubio’s
recent precipitous decline in the polls, and Mr. Christie’s
current problems, Mr. Bush’s presidential “stature” has now
thrust him back into serious contention.
Americans, of course, have not had a royal family since the
1770s, but the nation has entertained, from time to time,
family dynasties in its high offices. First it was the Adamses,
then the Harrisons, the Roosevelts, the Tafts, the Kennedys,
and now its the Bushes (with the Clintons trying to join them).
None of these dynasties have been preeminent very long, but
the Bushes seem to have endured very long (with a first generation
U.S. senator, second generation vice president-then-president, third
generation governor-then-president and governor-then ???, and now
fourth generation statewide Texas candidate-then ???).
It’s quite a saga, and now history and events might just conspire
to add another chapter to this remarkable political family story.
Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.