Home/Daniel Larison/Why Jeb Bush Still Won’t Be the Next Republican Nominee

Why Jeb Bush Still Won’t Be the Next Republican Nominee

Jim Antle contemplates what a Jeb Bush presidential bid would represent:

Alas, Jeb is giving little reason to think a third Bush presidency would mark the reemergence of a Brent Scowcroft-style realism. He has been recycling the usual hawkish lines about President Obama encouraging “American passivity” and Paul promoting “neo-isolationism.”

“He showed a lot of knowledge about foreign policy that he must have been working hard to acquire,” said Ari Fleischer, the former Bush 43 press secretary whose boss’s “knowledge about foreign policy” gave us the Iraq War. The setting was an event hosted by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who has suggested dropping an atomic bomb on Iran.

It isn’t surprising that Bush’s hawkish rhetoric appealed to the Republican donor crowd that he was addressing, but I still don’t see how anyone with the baggage associated with the name Bush and weighed down by the failures of the last Bush administration is likely to win the party’s nomination or general election. We’re supposed to think that the voters won’t judge the next Bush according to the failures of the last one, but that overlooks how family dynasty politics works. We know how much undeserved credit George W. Bush received from the media and the public because he was the son of the former president, and because he surrounded himself with former members of his father’s administration. When a family dynasty has become tainted by massive failure as the Bushes have, that is bound to affect the way that people perceive other members of the same family. If Jeb Bush were noticeably different from his brother in his policy views, he might be able to overcome some of this, but as far as anyone can tell their views are virtually identical.

Jeb Bush refrains from criticizing anything his brother did because they are related, but there is also no reason to think that he privately disagrees with any of his brother’s decisions. That’s good news for the relative few that look back on the George W. Bush years with fondness, but for the rest of us it is all that we’ll need to know to oppose Jeb. This is the benefit and the weakness of a family dynasty “brand”: voters usually know what and who they’re going to be supporting if they back a member of that family. Unfortunately for Jeb, the last time a Bush was trusted with the presidency it was a disaster for the country from which we are still recovering. No one should want to take a chance on repeating the experience, and that is ultimately why Bush won’t be a successful candidate if he should decide to run.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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