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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Somebody-Bush 2012!



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I notice this intriguing little item in Kathryn’s column:

One longtime fan with a close working knowledge of the former governor suggests he could be talked into at least the number-two slot on a ticket: “I think he’d definitely take the VP nod.” He’d be a hometown favorite in 2012, when the Republican convention will be held in Florida, “and he’d carry the state and be an asset with Catholics and Hispanics and would help the Republicans a lot on the fundraising and policy side.” (Interestingly, in that light, he recently told CNN “you betcha” when asked if he’d support a Sarah Palin run. Among other things, give him points for recognizing the boost she gives the GOP: The woman motivates.)

What better way for the eventual nominee to convince the grassroots that he (or she) is a worthy heir to the mantle of Ronald Reagan than by having a running mate named Bush?

UPDATE: My goodness, what an awful analysis from somebody over at The Economist:

The Bushes are the oddest of all American political families. They have a huge fragmentation issue. You have Bush-denominated politicians popping up in Texas and Florida and Connecticut. Beyond the fact there’s no Bush place, there’s also no Bush big idea. What is the common intellectual thread among these people, or the formative family experience? And although the number of high offices they’ve held would suggest that Americans like the Bush “brand”, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Quite the contrary: every new Bush that comes along has to shake off or distance himself from the Bushes that came before.

Er, what? There are no “Bush-denominated politicians popping up” in any of the states mentioned. If by Connecticut he’s referring to Prescott Bush, he stopped representing the state in 1963 and died in 1972. The allusion is roughly 40 years out of date. As far as I can tell, there are no Bushes currently in elected office. As for “there’s no Bush place”… Jeb Bush moved to Florida in 1980 and has lived and worked there since. What other “place” would there be?

As for the lack of a “big Bush idea,” since when is any candidate required to have a big family idea? By the time he was running for president, Ted Kennedy was running on policies that tax-cutting, hawkish John F. Kennedy would have opposed.

In 1988, George H.W. Bush had no need to shake off or distance himself from Prescott Bush, and by the time George W. Bush appeared on the national scene in the 2000 cycle, the primary question before Republicans was not, “will he be like his father?” but “can he beat Al Gore?” (Perhaps conservatives should have looked George W. Bush’s views more closely, but the issue was less his father than his views on big government as a tool for conservative goals in domestic policy.)

ANOTHER UPDATE: Down in the comments, I see some folks wondering where I stand on a Jeb Bush candidacy. Let me first note that because I intend to cover the 2012 GOP primary, I aim to stay on good terms with all of the potential contenders.

With that in mind, the strengths of Bush seems pretty obvious: a serious record of policy achievement as a popular two-term governor of a must-win state. Right now my first concern would be whether he really wants to run; he obviously isn’t champing at the bit, and if he doesn’t want to endure the type of ordeal that he witnessed his father and brother go through, he shouldn’t waste anyone’s time. “Ya gotta wanna.”

Does his last name make him unelectable? I’m content to let the primary voters decide. Sons are different from their fathers, and brothers are different men. I wouldn’t ask actor Tony Sirico to explain the intersection of Christian ethics and free-market principles and I wouldn’t ask Rev. Robert A. Sirico to play a mobster.


Tags: Jeb Bush


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