Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Who Will The Bushes Back?

Will Jebby run?

I speculated earlier that Jebby Bush might run. But it is looking increasingly unlikely that that event will ever occur, no matter how great it would be for writers. Which leads us to the pressing question: who will the Bushes support in the GOP primary? Jim Huntsman just lunched with Bush, 41 and Tim Pawlenty kissed his ring a few weeks ago. Clearly the Bush family are still the 800-pound gorillas in the GOP.

Presidents used to never make favorites before the party had a clear winner in the primary. And, to a degree, they still don't. But behind the scenes they definitely do. It is sort of a Boomer break with the previous American political tradition of letting the combattants solve the nomination on their own. It was seen back in the day as somehow sullying the office of the President -- or former President -- to descend into the gladiatorial fundament of primary contests. Then came the "Me" generation.

Bill Clinton, of course, supported his wife in the 2008 primary (a break with tradition; though he eventually supported and campaigned with Obama when he got the nod). And behind the scenes in 2008, the Bush family "supported" Mitt Romney (it was really quite bromantic), but eventually supported John McCain when he got the nod.

It is no secret that the Bushes had been supporting -- behind the scenes, of course -- Governor Mitch Daniels. Daniels, as Page Six told us (second item), had been "agonizing" over whether or not he wanted to subject his wife to withering press criticism for her leaving him and the kids before re-marrying him. He ultimately decided not to run. So -- who do the Bushes support now? It is, after all, a matter of their legacy -- the legacy of the most successful (and oil drenched) political family since the Adamses of Braintee, Massachusetts.

There is some reason to think Jebby might run. For one, it is no secret that he has always wanted to run for President and it was always assumed that he -- the smarter Bush -- would be the one to succeed the father. Two, Mitt Romney is a very very weak front-runner, so weak in fact that the big money has yet to fall in line (rare for a hierarchical party like the Republican party). From ABC News:

"Jeb probably has a better chance to unite the establishment and Tea Party wings of the GOP than anyone else, certainly a better chance than Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney," National Review editor Rich Lowry wrote earlier this year.
In a poll of likely Florida voters last month, Bush held a nearly 20 point lead over President Obama in a hypothetical 2012 presidential matchup.

Still, Bush has repeatedly insisted he will not run in 2012 and believes the party has plenty of candidates who could defeat Obama.

Then again, does America have Bush fatigue? When Hillary Clinton ran in the primary, Clinton fatigue -- a theme brlliantly encapsulated within Obama's catch phrase "Change" -- was a major factor in her defeat. Could the same thing happen if Jebby, who would be, if he ran, the third Bush to run for President in a little over two decades? Is America to fatigued with the Bush family values of oil, wealth and war?

Then again, we could take him at his word. Maybe Jeb's time has passed and he won't run -- or wait until 2016. The Bushes could very well go back to their "jump off," Mitt Romney.

Time will tell.

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