The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller

Jeb Bush’s Cunning Strategy?

Jeb’s Jejune Swoon: Why did Jeb Bush say those provocative, seemingly jejune things about illegal border crossing being “not a felony” but “an act of love”? Obviously it’s what he actually thinks. But, again, why did he say it? Two theories:

1) He’s running in 2016 and thinks he can compensate for giving amnesty to all the illegal border crossers (mainly from Mexico) by cracking down and even deporting visa-overstayers (who aren’t so  much from Latin America).  It’s a weak attempt to appease immigration hawks–but it’s also a double-pander to many Latinos, who (rightly) resent politicians who talk about building a Southern fence while ignoring the visa-overstay problem. Clever!  I don’t think the immigration hawks will be fooled, though, since Bush also endorsed the Gang of 8 bill, which legalizes instantly while postponing enforcement until later.

Or …

2) He’s not running, but he’s making space for Marco Rubio. Look at it this way: The GOP establishment is desperate to suppress Tea Party conservatives and also obtain the immigration amnesty they  believe will win Latinos and relieve them of the need to do too much rethinking in other areas. The problem for the establishment is lack of candidates. Rubio was a favorite, but he sabotaged himself among core Republican primary voters with his disingenuous, flip-floppy championing of the Gang of 8′s bill. That left Christie–but then Christie got caught in a traffic jam. That left Jeb, probably the establishment’s original choice–but it turns out that Jeb is still a Bush, and even the Bushes are sick of the Bushes. That leaves … well, Rubio again. Maybe he can be rehabilitated in time for the primaries! How? Hmm. Well, if Jeb takes a stand way far out in a squishy idealistic pro-amnesty direction, that creates space for his quondam protege, Rubio, to stake out a position that’s seemingly tougher–e.g. “Jeb’s off base there. Saying it’s an ‘act of love’ obscures the very real problems illegal immigration can cause, which is why I am strong on border enforcement, etc.” Of course Rubio would still be for amnesty, and the establishment would know this. But it might help smuggle him through the primaries. ….

P.S.: The need to rehabilitate Rubio–which means avoiding a big immigration fight, at least in 2015 and 2016–would be one more reason the GOP establishment might feel it’s now-or-never for passing an immigration reform bill. That would help explain the increasingly desperate and sneaky (but possible successful) efforts to keep amnesty alive. …

Update: John Gibson (on his radio show) theorized that Jeb was going for a quick, impressive uptick in poll support among Latinos.  Is that a good strategy for the GOP primaries? Only if you think primary voters who might otherwise disdain Bush will vote for him based on electability.  It’s not like Jeb needs to impress donors! …  Bush’s remarks also seem like an attempt to answer the argument that Republicans will never win over Latinos if they merely assent to a Democratic amnesty–they have to go the Democrats one better! That’s hard to do when a thoroughgoing amnesty is being promoted by a Democratic president and a fully united Democratic party. But one way to do it might be to trump the necessarily cautious Democrats on an emotional level.  Unlike his older brother, Jeb can’t try to be the Abraham Lincoln of the Undocumented (he’s not President). But he can try to be their Mother Teresa Marianne Williamson Pope Francis. … Still, that’ not a primary election strategy–it’s a (questionable) general election or medium term strategy. (Longer term,  it could end when the 17 million or so new immigrants added by the Senate amnesty bill come on to the voting rolls.) …

Does Jeb think he doesn’t have to worry about winning the nomination? He sure seems worried in his remarks, talking about “crazy” politics, lamenting the need to win the Muscatine Pork Roast.  The message seemed to be:  ’I'll run if I can figure out how to glide through the primaries in a magisterial procession, like the old days.’  His immigration remarks probably made that even more impossible than it was before. Which he must have known.  …

More: Geraghty thinks Jeb may be “out of touch” with the grass roots.  That would be an impressive feat of out-of-touchness. …