The Morning Jolt

Can Jeb Fix It?

Happy Election Day. If you’re in a state that has some state or local elections, do a little Googling, familiarize yourself with the candidates, referenda, or bond issues, and get out there and exercise your right to vote!

Can Jeb Fix It?

The first test of Jeb’s ability to “fix it” will be seeing whether he can fix his campaign.

Besides his fundamental misreading of the GOP primary electorate — a considerable strategic, big-picture obstacle to overcome — Bush makes tactical mistakes as well. If you’re going to go after Donald Trump for saying something nasty about your wife, you’ve got to look tough, chivalrous, and no-nonsense. (Does anybody fear crossing Jeb Bush?)

Who told him that hitting Marco Rubio on missed votes would be the silver bullet to knock out this former protégé and rival? As noted on the home page, this is a pretty stupid argument. Do you think there’s a single voter outside of Florida who cares about Rubio’s missing these votes? And do you think there’s a single voter who will pick Bush over Rubio because Rubio has missed Senate votes out on the campaign trail?

If anybody in the GOP field wants to go after Rubio, there’s a glaring, obvious opportunity: the Gang of Eight bill. Of course, Jeb doesn’t have that option, because he supported that legislation, supports a path to citizenship in general, and in fact hit Rubio for backing off of his support of the Gang of Eight bill.

I suppose Jeb Bush could try to run a version of his brother’s, “You may not always agree with me, but you always know where I stand” direct, principled approach. But I just don’t see an outspoken pro-path-to-citizenship candidate winning the GOP primary. A lot of voters will ask: If we have a choice between a pro-amnesty Republican and a pro-amnesty Democrat, why vote? Secondly, is there anybody who can make the case for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants — in this 62.6 percent workforce-participation-rate economy — who doesn’t imply or outright call the other side xenophobic and racist? The only issue where you see even more smug condescension and refusal to seriously listen to the opposition is . . . Common Core, which is Bush’s other big crusade.

Jeb Bush indicated that the term “Common Core” is so politically poisonous that he won’t use it anymore, and prefers to discuss state-set high standards. He ought to consider George Will’s argument:

Bush says “standards are different than curriculum” and: “I would be concerned if we had a national curriculum influenced by the federal government. My God, I’d break out in a rash.” But standards will shape what is tested, and textbooks will be “aligned” with the tests. Furthermore, has he not noticed what the federal government is doing, using Title IX as a pretext?

It simply states that no person “shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Based on those 31 words, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has stripped colleges and universities of a crucial component of self-government. Using ludicrous statistics based on flimsy social science to manufacture hysteria about a “rape epidemic” on campuses, the federal government is mandating the overthrow of due process in adjudicating accusations of sexual assault. Title IX’s 31 words beget hundreds of pages of minute stipulations and mandates.

Imagine if Jeb Bush had said something like:

The basic idea of Common Core — high standards for every child in every classroom in every school — has been twisted beyond recognition by an arrogant, ideologically-driven, obnoxious education bureaucracy who dismisses the concerns of parents. When I hear the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, claim that the opposition to Common Core comes from, quote, “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were,” I want to slap him in his smug, sniveling little face. How dare he speak to American parents this way! Who the hell does Arne Duncan think he works for? Who the hell does he think pays the money that goes into his paycheck?

Jeb Bush wants to fix something? The first thing he can set out to fix is a governing class that feels contempt for the public they govern. Our government’s cultural disdain for the mere plebes who don’t work for it has set up a murder’s row of incompetence, scandal, cover-ups, and unaccountability — the $2 billion spent on Healthcare.gov; 307,000 veterans dying while waiting for care from the VA; the Office of Personnel Management letting hackers get 22 million personnel records and 5.6 million fingerprint records; an EPA “cleanup” turning a river puke-yellow by spilling 3 million gallons of toxic mine sludge; Benghazi.

No offense to the fine governor, but his upcoming tales of gubernatorial fixes feel very long ago and far away:

During an address in Tampa, aides say, Mr. Bush will discuss his rejection of what he calls the “competing pessimisms” of the Obama era and will cite his experience as governor overcoming obstacles to conservative overhauls. He is expected to point to examples from his new book, “Reply All,” which will be released on Monday and details his prolific email habits as governor.

The text includes email exchanges with staff members, residents and others, recounting crucial moments of his tenure (natural disasters, the Terri Schiavo case, the 2000 election) and less momentous ones (constituent concerns over unisex bathrooms and a bill authorizing the creation of a state barbecue commissioner).

The Jeb Bush era in Florida coincided with the tail end of the dot-com boom and a Florida housing boom. He had a strong wind at his back for much of his time in office. Now we’ll see just how he does when the wind is in his face.

The Good News and Ominous News for Ben Carson This Morning

The good news for Ben Carson is pretty darn good!

Ben Carson has surged into the lead of the Republican presidential race, getting support from 29 percent of GOP primary voters, according to a brand-new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

That’s the highest percentage any GOP candidate has obtained so far in the survey.

Carson’s 29 percent is followed by Donald Trump at 23 percent, Marco Rubio at 11 percent, Ted Cruz at 10 percent and Jeb Bush at 8 percent. These findings are similar to a New York Times/CBS poll released last week, which also showed Carson in first place in the national GOP contest.

But the ominous news for Ben Carson is also pretty ominous, at least in the eyes of Erick Erickson:

Carson has a problem beneath the polling numbers — his fundraising.

Everyone focused on Carson’s “impressive $20.8 million in the third quarter”, but few noticed that he burned through $14 million of it with $11 million going to raise the $20.8 million.

That’s pretty substantial. More problematic, Carson has built his fundraising engine on a direct mail program. Direct mail programs take a long time to become sustainable. Long term, Carson will be doing fine off direct mail. But in the short term, i.e. next year, Carson is going to have trouble.

What people do not realize about direct mail is that the costs are front loaded. Candidates spend a great deal of money building a mail file, harvesting a mail file, recycling a mail file, and harvesting again. The printing, postage, and commissions take a lot. In some cases, the candidates do not even have direct access to the mail file, which the mail house keeps until debts are paid.

To be sure, this is not money Carson has to work for. They keep churning letters and senior citizens keep writing checks. It is a win-win. But it also inflates what he has actually raised.

ADDENDA: A slightly-delayed edition of the pop-culture podcast is up, covering former NBA star Lamar Odom’s recent travails and the Kardashian clan’s impact on the culture; the cost of fame; saluting Hollywood’s creators who refuse to let their work be “rebooted,” remade, or be followed by decades-later sequels; the Star Wars trailer; and the legend of the parachuting beavers.

Have you noticed I went nearly the entire Jolt without nagging you to buy Heavy Lifting? I’m told a lot of Barnes and Nobles don’t have the book on the shelves — that could be good news, indicating it’s selling out, or bad news, that the copies are sitting in the back of some warehouse or storeroom right now. 

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