Jeb Bush is in a bad place.
The Sunshine State warrior has been forced to go negative in the first week of September 2015 against a reality TV star no one even thought would actually run. A New York showman whose two-word description — “low-energy” — had every single pundit in Washington tilting their head and saying aloud, “that’s exactly correct.”
Sure, an optimist can say that Mr. Bush is in position to frame the 17-man race as a one-on-one with Donald Trump. But to actually think this is a good place for him to be, we’d have to dispense with all memory of the past year, over which the former Florida governor had loudly planned a cheerful, nerdy campaign. Backed by 100 million dollars, he would sit above the fray and let little people duke it out.
Going into the first Republican debate, just not getting boo’d for his vocal attacks on conservatives and support for Common Core left him standing tall on top of all that money. But that just isn’t how it’s sorted out for the governor. This isn’t the race he’d planned at all. And now he’s in a cage match with an actual WWE wrestler. (VIDEO: That Time Donald Trump Beat Up Vince McMahon On WWE)
But before anyone goes and feels bad for Mr. Bush, it’s worth pushing those memory muscles a little further. Because Donald Trump isn’t the GOP’s cancer, he’s the wig the party demands after 27 years of radiation.
What was Jeb Bush planning on running as? A Bush and a Republican? What does that mean, exactly? While everyone on the stage is quick to cite Ronald Reagan as their favorite politician, it was H.W. Bush who brought the blade down on Mr. Reagan’s administration, firing and burying “practically every conservative who remained in government” the very day he was inaugurated, raising taxes and losing to a serial philanderer from Arkansas.
America didn’t have another Republican in the White House for eight years, when we got George H.W.’s son, George W. He’s the Republican who had control of all three branches of government, if you count the Supreme Court that’s decision made him president. So what do voters have to remember from these heady days? Social Security Reform? The end of the Death Tax?
Try Medicare Part D.
And then six months later, No Child Left Behind.
Rep. John Boehner was the sponsor. Now he’s in charge of the House of Representatives. And his Republican buddy is charge of the U.S. Senate. An entire branch of government under the GOP now for nine months, and what do they have to show for it? A constant broadside on the man in the White House? A piece-by-piece assault on Obamacare’s least-popular provisions?
Try two vetoes.
And then six months later, a deal with Iran.
All this is to say, what is Mr. Bush’s line of attack here? That Mr. Trump isn’t a real Republican? Undoubtedly, he is not. The chances he’ll break the pledge he signed Thursday are about as high as the chances he’ll sue the Republican Party in the next year– about 50-50. But so what? Since Ronald Reagan left office, America has endured 12 years of Bush Republican White Houses with little to show for it beyond a massively expanded federal government and three wars, two of which we lost.
These Bush Republican men have destroyed the party. It’s name, it’s brand, it’s very principles are somewhere between muddled and lost.
Trump isn’t the cancer in the party. He’s the cold sweat when she flat-lines.
No need for attack ads, Mr. Bush. Just send flowers.