October 26, 2015

JEB VAN WINKLE: At NRO, Henry Olsen writes that Jeb Bush is the perfect Republican candidate — for the 1996 or 2000 presidential race:

Bush has, in effect, awakened from a ten year plus political sleep to discover America has changed. His difficulties are directly tied to his inability so far to adapt to the changed environment.

If this seems harsh, consider the facts. Jeb has not run for office since his easy re-election in 2002. He has not had a tight, competitive race since 1998, and he has not run in a GOP primary since 1994. When Jeb ran his tough races, his brother had not yet won the Presidency; 9/11 had not happened; economic growth was both plentiful and widely shared. Latino immigration had not yet reached the level that has sparked the immigration wars of the last decade, and the Republican base had not exploded in anger over the sense that its leadership, including his brother, had betrayed them time and time again.

And, of course, Barack Obama had not yet been elected. Obama’s ambitious agenda has moved the country much farther to the left than when Bush was active in politics.

One can see how Bush has struggled with these changes time and time again. His two policy passions seem to be education and immigration reform. These were state of the art conservative priorities in 2000 when W ran, but have long since stopped being animating features of the movement. NCLB is widely derided on the right and Common Core is seen as the further federalization of education in the same vein as his brother’s landmark effort. Doubling down on these priorities, as Bush has done, has simply reinforced the notion that he is running on yesterday’s platform.

Additionally, “Neither Jeb nor his bazillions of staffers have any improvisational wit,” Mark Steyn adds. “Which is why Trump has amused himself all summer needling him as ‘low-energy’ and then, when Jeb displays a flash of anger in return, congratulating him: ‘More energy! I like it:’

Whatever one feels about Trump and Carson, they have exposed how totally hollow and worthless the conventions of presidential politicking are, at least on the Republican side. Murphy dismisses Trump – and now presumably Carson, too – as a “zombie frontrunner” because they’re not behaving the way they’re supposed to: You’re meant to hire guys like Murphy and bulk up your payroll with a seven-figure campaign HQ operation that blows through millions of dollars on soft-focus campaign ads about how you had a tough but inspirational upbringing as the son of a mailman or, in Jeb’s case, the son of a one-term president. The consultants get a percentage of the bazillion-dollar ad buy, and the super-donors admire it because it looks like all the other cookie-cutter ads they fondly recall from the Romney campaign, and the McCain campaign, and the Dole campaign…

Then Donald Trump turns up. He has an issue, but it’s the one the consultant class advise you to go nowhere near with a ten-foot pole, so he snaffles it up all to himself. He spends nothing on ads, because he’s sucking up all the free airtime in the 15 minutes between the stupid irritating soft-focus commercials. His biggest expense is hats and T-shirts. He has no endorsements from former senators and former congressmen and former this and former that, because they’re losers and nobody remembers who they are. Not being a career politician, he feels no need to pretend to be an average working stiff, because he’s not.

And the consultants’ response to all this is to complain that Trump’s not doing it right.

Then Ben Carson comes along.

Read the whole thing.

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