Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton, 2016? God help us all.

31 March 2014

3:58 PM

31 March 2014

3:58 PM

Connoisseurs of hinge-moments – those instants at which a country’s future changes – have long-appreciated the 1994 Florida gubernatorial election. Jeb Bush lost. Meanwhile, across the country, his elder brother George was elected governor of Texas. George Junior complained – whined, perhaps – that Barbara and George Senior grieved Jeb’s loss more than they celebrated George’s victory.

Until that moment, however, Jeb had been thought the Bush boy more likely to succeed on the national stage. Over the course of a single night in 1994, however, the wheel turned back to George. We know what happened next.

Twenty years later there are people still determined to give Jeb a chance. According to the Washington Post “influential Republicans” are working to drag and draft Jeb into the race for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination.

Well, why not? Nothing could better honour the American Dream than a contest pitting Jeb Bush against Hillary Clinton. True, old cynics and salty curmudgeons might chunter about the Republic’s lost virtue or something but, hell, cable news would love it and if that’s not all that counts it still counts for quite a lot. A soap opera to make you puke but one you can’t help but watch. What’s not to like?

“Influential Republicans” means, of course, immensely wealthy Republicans. Many of Mitt Romney’s fundraisers are said to be waiting for the chance to raise cash for Bush. And no wonder. He has impeccable establishment credentials.

This kite – it doesn’t merit being dubbed a plan yet – is flown as a sign the party’s money-wing is unhappy with the choices available to it. Chris Christie has some baggage. Marco Rubio is kinda callow and not entirely baggage-free either. Rand Paul is a no-no for all the obvious reasons. And who knows what other mistakes lurk out there waiting for their 15 minutes of party-wrecking fame?

You know what you get with Jeb. Even if he’s been out of office since 2006.


But, really, it is hard not to read such stories and conclude that the Republican party is exhausted. Since (from a conservative perspective) Jeb’s father and brother each disappointed – albeit in rather different ways – there’s something quaintly optimistic about suggesting third time lucky with the Bushes.

And it’s not as though Jeb’s a home run or a slam dunk either. He’s hopelessly soft on immigration, for one thing, and rather too fond of empowering the Department of Education for another. That’s before you even consider the possibility – faint, I know! – of Bush Fatigue.

It’s not that Jeb’s an utterly hopeless candidate. Nor, at 61, is he too old. But, still, the disadvantages seem acute. Do we really want to go through all this stuff all over again?

Granted, Hillary Clinton’s reasons for running for the Presidency (we assume she is running) are hardly any more noble. It’s about time she enjoyed her turn; about time, too, America elected a woman Commander-in-Chief. And that’s about it. An attractive combination of entitlement and identity politics. Ask not what I will do; ask instead how my historic presidency will make you feel. Vote Hillary, consider yourself a decent person. And stick one to the Vast Right-Wng Conspiracy while you’re at it.

What a joyous prospect. Hillary might be hard to beat anyway but even a numbskull could craft an effective advert asking Americans if they felt like electing the third President Bush or the first female President.

That assumes Jeb might win the GOP nomination. Which is far from obvious. Romney beat a field of midgets and, anyway, was the next guy in line from four years previously. Jeb might call on a formidable machine and have access to a vast war-chest but he’s not the next guy (there is no next guy) and he’s been so far from the fray for so long it’s not obvious or guaranteed that he retains the enthusiasm or dedication required to play it as though you are serious about winning.

Stranger things have happened but it’s hard to think of many stranger than returning to the Bush well for a third time. Welcome to America, a land where just about anyone can become President. Hell, we elected Dubya didn’t we?

“He would be outstanding” says Henry Kissinger. “He is someone who is experienced, moderate and thoughtful.” Maybe so but those are not necessarily qualities useful in the primary. They might even be considered grievous handicaps. And could you receive a more telling endorsement than one from old Henry K? It takes insidery-insiderness to a whole new level.

True, the Republican party is usually wise enough to choose the most electable candidate. Perhaps that would be Jeb but it’s not obvious it would be.

And unless Bush can begin as the presumptive favourite it seems unlikely, I should guess, he will be interested in running at all. Which is one reason why I think these calls to draft Jeb should most sensibly be seen as desperate cries for help.

He won’t run (I think!). But, secretly and even though we know it would be appalling, we’d quite like him to. Think of the soap opera!


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Show comments
  • Joe

    If Jeb is elected to the White House in 2016,the Republic of America will likely become a place you no longer recognize. Some members of the wealthiest one percent would benefit. Ordinary wage earners might end up wanting to leave.
    They could wind up needing to invest in things like a good tent,a book on edible plants and outdoor survival. Those who do not speak Spanish,may need a crash course.

  • booch221

    Romney beat a field of midgets and, anyway, was the next guy in line from four years previously. Jeb might call on a formidable machine and have access to a vast war-chest but he’s not the next guy (there is no next guy)…

    What about Santorum? Bahahaha!

  • Tom B

    Obama with a dress on or another bush flake!Both parties SUCK!

  • transponder

    You’re right. Hillary is Chairman Mao in a dyed-blonde hairdo with all the charm of a sleep-deprived rhinocerous, who thinks that the deaths in Benghazi are nothing but a feather in her cap — so why take a chance on a patriotic pragmatist when we could have her instead?

  • AZ WI

    I would have to go with Hillary, enough is enough with the Bushes

    • transponder

      She would have a go with you, and you would lose. Idiot.

      • AZ WI

        If you want to talk about losers why not mention McCain and Romney. you rude jerk? Why is it that people like YOU actually get off by trying to insult people that might disagree with you? Guess it shows YOUR immaturity or maybe you’re just the idiot.

        • transponder

          Anyone that is keen on Hillary ‘What law files?’ Benghazi Clinton is not playing with a full deck.

          • BayAreaCAMale

            I cant stand you dam cherry pickers!!!!!!!!!

            Why forget about 6500 dead soldiers so easily but hang on to benghzai so diligentely???

  • Rob Duncan

    When I got here there was Seven comments and only Two had biblical references. it must be american political commentary! – eh..jesus etc.

    • Alexis Rose Bank

      “Jesus Fucking Christ”, whether the first middle initial “H” is pronounced or not, with or without a pogo stick involved, is not a reference to scripture. FYI.

  • komment

    Is this guy related to the Bush whose lack of basic numeracy skills allowed George his second term and the disaster that was/is Iraq.

    • transponder

      Thinking really isn’t your bag, is it?

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Marvin Bush was a principal in a company which provided security for the World Trade Center, United Airlines, and Dulles International Airport, and he was in New York on 9/11.

    Pick up the ball and run with it, Internet correspondents.

  • Unenlightened_Commentary

    The Republicans haven’t won a presidential election without a Bush on the ticket since 1972*, it’s like a comfort blanket for them. I think Hillary Clinton is the only candidate Jeb could beat because the incestuous vibes would cancel each other out.

    The sad thing is that they do actually have a number of effective governors in office at the moment, yet they don’t get a look in when it comes to the presidential polls.

    * They haven’t won without a Bush or a Nixon since 1928!

    • Pgso

      * You overlook 2 wins by Eisenhower!

      • Unenlightened_Commentary

        Eisenhower’s Vice President was Richard Nixon, so he was on the ticket.

        • akb111

          Eisenhower could have won the Presidency with Bozo the Clown on the ticket with him. Nixon’s presence was irrelevant.

  • Terence Hale

    “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. I think Mr. Bush should stay in Texas as British history has shown the son of Edward I of England was not an ideal successor and for the democrats they should stay away from Mrs. Clinton, calling President Putin Hitler together with the Benghazi attack that could have been prevented and a few other things. I think Mr. Biden and a new comer for the republicans will make the ticked.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Never trust a Bush unless it`s burning.

  • Colin56

    A third Bush would be a dream opponent for Hillary. Though it would give the American people an appalling paucity of choice.

    What is it with them – 270 million or so US eligible citizens and every election, they come up with two candidates who disgrace the term ‘lowest common denominator’. Mind you, maybe we shouldn’t be smug – look at some of our candidates for office!

  • Pam Eaton Haupt

    No more Bush’s are needed. They are for big government, amnesty, bailout etc…. Father and Junior tried and did make Israel give land away in the name of peace. We see how that worked out. If you are a believer at all the Book of Joel tells us what happens to a nation that tries to divide Israel’s land. We do not need another Bush in the White House.