John Kraushaar of National Journal is one the smartest political writers around. As the GOP Washington establishment tries to make sense of the rise of Donald Trump, they would do well to read Kraushaar’s take on how Jeb Bush enabled The Donald:
If Bush never ran for the presidency, would Donald Trump even be a formidable candidate? It’s possible that the candidate running as the antithesis of Trump may have done more to boost the New Yorker’s candidacy than anyone else. Consider: a) Bush’s entrance in the race prevented any other mainstream alternatives from getting attention for months; b) his Right to Rise super PAC nuked the most-electable alternative in Rubio with millions in attack ads while spending much less against Trump; c) his candidacy defined the two poles of the Republican Party, and gave Trump plenty of fodder to showcase himself as aggressively anti-Bush and become an antiestablishment icon; d) Trump may not even have gotten in the race if it weren’t for Bush creating the prospect of a dynastic coronation.
What’s amazing is that Bush didn’t have enough self-awareness to understand that the party, after three straight antiestablishment elections for Republicans, would not have the appetite for another Bush in office. If Trump wins the GOP nomination, that misjudgment will have wide-ranging ramifications for his party in the years to come.