Jeb Bush held a rally with his brother yesterday in South Carolina where the former president endorsed the younger Bush:
Jeb Bush, facing increasing pressure in South Carolina after lackluster showings in early contests, brought his older brother, George W. Bush, and the former first lady, Laura Bush, to vouch for his decency and judgment here in a race that has been driven in recent weeks by coarse language, anger and personal insults.
It is hardly surprising that the former president has backed his brother for the nomination, but the rally was an odd event all the same. Lindsey Graham introduced the former president with remarks that might have made sense for a rally in 2002. George W. Bush’s remarks mostly served to remind everyone that listened to him why his brother was such an inferior politician. While Jeb has typically been stiff and underwhelming as a candidate, the former president was comparatively humorous and engaging. But the former president’s presence on the stage called to mind everything we hated about the previous administration, including the smirking, ignorant man who presided over the mess, and it told us why the Bush dynasty should not be allowed any more political victories. Oddly enough, the older Bush is more practiced or more gifted at public speaking than the younger one, but despite his best efforts there is simply nothing that is going to make Jeb’s candidacy take off. The fact that Jeb has had to lean on (some might say hide behind) his more famous brother and parents reminds everyone that they’re sick of people from this family seeking high office, and it also confirms that Jeb is the least effective politician of the family.
The former president’s intervention in the race was remarkable in a couple ways. It is unusual for a sitting or former president to take sides in a wide-open nomination contest this early. Even Reagan waited until May of 1988 before endorsing Bush’s father as his heir. While the older Bush’s involvement in the race may be predictable, it probably won’t go over well. The last two Republican nominees are refraining from endorsing anyone at this point, and that seems the appropriate thing for them to do. Bush’s proud embrace of the “establishment” label isn’t going to win Jeb a single vote, but it will make most Republicans remember why they can’t accept him. The funny thing is that Bush’s endorsement probably doesn’t carry that much clout with Republican voters even in South Carolina. Early post-debate polls show that Trump hasn’t lost support in South Carolina after attacking George W. Bush, and it seems unlikely that the former president’s praise for his brother will have much of an effect. Jeb may have thought that he would benefit from a backlash against Trump over the debate remarks on Saturday, but it hasn’t happened. This is the way the Bush dynasty ends: not with a bang, but with a whimper.