The Corner

Did Jeb Bush Help Create the Trump Phenom?

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.

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