The recent spat between Jeb Bush and Donald Trump over who was responsible for 9/11 may seem cheap, juvenile and pointless, mostly because it is. But it is relevant mostly because it is a preview of coming attractions if Bush were to be the GOP nominee, and further evidence why he should drop out of the race right now if he truly wants to deny Hillary Clinton the White House.
From the start, the idea of Jeb Bush running for president in 2016 was hardly an enlightened one. The nation is exhausted and angry from too many establishment ruling class politicians, so the bold alternative from the GOP should be more of the same from the younger son of a past-its-prime political dynasty? Sure he could make the big money donors swoon, but what about the base, the people who actually canvass neighborhoods and influence their friends to vote?
Bush offered nothing to the Tea Party supporters. Worse, he actually thumbed his nose at them with his brazen support for Common Core and something resembling amnesty. Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election in large part because he ignored the base, and roughly four million of them sat on their hands on election night rather than vote for him. Apparently Bush thinks this is a strategy worth repeating.
While Trump has clearly sucked up all the oxygen in the nascent Republican contest, it is worth noting that the Democrats have barely criticized Bush even though he is one of the most prominent names in the GOP race. The only time you hear Democrat pundits mention Bush is when they identify him as the one Republican they don’t want to face in the general election. This is nothing but a setup by the Democrats. They would LOVE to face Jeb in the big contest! If the last twenty years have proved anything, it’s that nominating a squishy, centrist RINO is the surest way to ensure a Democrat victory.
Instead of framing the election as a referendum on the many failures of the Obama administration (and Hillary’s role in it), a Bush candidacy would allow the Democrats to focus on issues that play to their strengths: re-litigating the Iraq war, the financial meltdown in the final months of the George W. Bush administration, the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina, and the perception of the GOP as a party of stiff, unhip, marble-mouthed, aging, white male trust fund babies. While Democrats spent most of George Bush the younger’s presidency viciously attacking him, he inexplicably said nothing in his own defense, and the negative perception took root in the minds of many voters. Making Jeb the party figurehead would allow the Democrats to take all the anti-Bush sentiments they created toward Bush 2.0 and simply transfer them onto the newest model.
All of that might be manageable if Jeb could think on his feet, was an inspiring public speaker and had a dynamic vision for the future. As anyone who has followed the campaign thus far has seen, Bush possesses none of those qualities. In debates and on the stump, Bush speaks in a soporific style and makes one wonder why exactly he wants to be president. In an age when the public’s attention span could be described as flea-like, candidates need to be able to reduce their message to its simplest form. Love him or hate him, Trump has mastered this and can explain his candidacy in a very easy-to-digest bite: “Make America Great Again.” What is Bush’s tag line? “Vote for me because my father and brother were president and I’ll give you more of the same ruling class ineffectiveness and big government, status quo thinking”?
The media’s attempt to frame the idea that Trump should get out of the race is wishful thinking on their part. Jeb Bush is the one taking up space in the GOP field and going nowhere. He should do what’s best for his side and move on.