That’s one reason why Florida’s Jeb Bush — an outstanding governor — has decided to spare his country, his party and himself another Bush on the ticket. Such selflessness is not the Clinton way. ~Jonah Goldberg
Via Clark Stooksbury
I’m sure it was Gov. Bush’s deep reserve of humility and selflessness that convinced him not to run in ’08 (though there is still time for him to change his mind). It couldn’t have been the overwhelmingly obvious assumption that his name would drag him to the bottom of the field as fast as you could say Schiavo. If his brother were enormously popular and was being considered for deification by the Senate, Jeb would probably still retire to spare the nation from the pains of Bush fatigue. Yeah, that’s it!
Pundits and political junkies have virtually nothing political and interesting to talk about in the month after a big election (except for dreary chit-chat about whether Nancy and Jane will make up and be friends after study hall), which is why so many of us have been sucked into ridiculous pre-predictions about a presidential race that hasn’t even started yet. Pundits are already coming up with their narratives. The first among these: Bush and Clinton fatigue!
I would have thought that the nation ought to be suffering from such fatigue in, oh, 1992, but I was frequently disappointed. In 1996, I was positive that there was no way Clinton could be re-elected. How could people re-elect him? I knew he was rotten and no good, and that seemed to make it obvious that no one would vote for him in large numbers ever again. How could 2000 have been so close, when everybody I knew wanted Gore to lose? Well, that goes to show you that you really shouldn’t let your enthusiasm (or contempt) get the better of you when you are making claims about the state of the electorate.
I don’t think such a thing as “Clinton fatigue” or “Bush fatigue” exists. George W. Bush fatigue exists most definitely, but the reasons for that are obvious. Like it or not, Bubba left office with shockingly high approval ratings, and he remains not just tolerated but indeed beloved by some considerable number of people in his party. He is also intensely hated by many of the rest of us, but Dobleve’s disastrous reign, er, administration has managed to dim and soften the memories of the bad old days. Bubba’s wife is liked less in the party, and she carries added burdens of having supported the resolution that led to the Iraq war and serves as a symbol to progressives of all that is wrong and impure in the DLC wing of the party, but if so many people are so fatigued by the endless parade of Clintons and Bushes they seem to have an awfully bad habit of continuing to support them.
Which brings us back to the overhyped, oversold Barack Obama. (Personally, I still think Harold Ford, in spite of his narrow loss this year, is a far more credible, potentially nationally viable black Democrat, but then I don’t get to invent the truth as journalists do.) The unhinged enthusiasm for Colin Powell was much the same. The enthusiasm for Obama will fade, because it will be seen to be the product of a completely artificial media circus. If his fans really wanted him to win, they would pipe down and stop making him into the Anointed One. Sometimes voters will decide that they don’t much care for other people making their decisions for them (unless they are GOP primary voters, in which case they will often vote for just about anybody with a pulse whom the party elders endorse).
Unlike Powell, though, Obama cannot even boast the much-coveted “centrist” label. He is as “moderate” on the left as I am on the right. If anyone proposed that I could help unite the country and transcend the partisan divide, I would make sure that he found the medical attention he so desperately needed. Yet we are supposed to believe that, in the interests of a “fresh start” and the possibility of seeing America as one country rather than two warring factions pitted against each other, we are supposed to be enthusiastic about one of the youngest and most left-wing members of the Senate who has no real credentials except that he is charismatic and black (but not so black, the pundits will whisper, that he scares you). Extremism in the cause of bipartisanship is no vice, I suppose.
Progressives are excited about him because they hate Hillary–that part is true–but the media are excited about him because he is an archetype of “racial reconciliation” and a sort of multiculti success story; he is the Tiger Woods of politics without the accomplishments to go with the overinflated reputation. Some conservatives are excited about him because, well, it seems that they still hate Hillary, even though they will tell you in the same breath that that is so ’90s. If the goal is to distract, divide and weaken the eventual Democratic nominee, boosting Obama makes a sort of sense for the GOP. But the more credibility all of these groups give to his candidacy, the more credible he inevitably becomes, which is simply incredible.
I don’t mean to belabour the point, but Obama has nothing to campaign on. He can say, “I have two published books attributed to me! One of them has a really stupid title!” (I am going to start refusing to say that a politician has “written” any book published under his name.) As far as Democrats are concerned, he would be a disaster of a nominee. Think about it, folks. He does not have, and could not have, the national security chops for the job he would be seeking. After the Kerry debacle, there may be an allergic reaction among the Dems to basing the nomination on supposed national security and/or military credentials, but in the wake of the debacle that is the Bush Presidency voters will be hungry for someone who appears capable of handling foreign policy and security policy far better than Mr. Bush ever did.
That means that Americans will not want yet another inexperienced man who is beholden to his advisers and incapable of making serious independent judgements about major policy questions. The ever-deferential-to-experts (at least of a certain kind) Mr. Bush, who seems unable to say anything about troop levels in Iraq that does not begin with, “The commanders on the ground tell me…”, is not the model of leadership that anyone should want to emulate. Yet his considerable lack of experience in either being an executive or in making policy ensures that he would be heavily dependent on advisers and would end up being beholden to the Democratic side of the foreign policy establishment with all of the terrible ideas that go with it. Were strange and impossible things to happen and Obama were to be nominated, the Dems would have their heads handed to them (not an all together unpleasant prospect, I grant you). It is the height of absurdity that people who worry about Hillary’s electability would think that the answer is to find someone manifestly less electable and start enthusing about how it is his race to lose.