If His Brother Can Do it Why Not

It may not be the most inspiring slogan, but Jeb Bush is probably hoping most people are thinking that.  The former Florida Governor and son/brother of President is giving all the signals that he’s going to run in 2016.  I’ve thought and posted that he wouldn’t do it for a number of reasons.  Turns out I might be wrong.  Given his name ID, obvious support among the Bush wing of the GOP, and ability to compete in Florida in a general election, Bush would be a strong candidate.

However, he has some big obstacles to overcome.  First, it’s not like the last President Bush was all that popular at the end of his second term.  In a general election that will definitely be a factor.  Second, he goes against the CPAC crowd on issues including immigration reform and Common Core education standards.  Third, it’s not he is a fresh face and is a little rusty, considering he hasn’t run for anything since 2002 (that’s 12 years kids).

If Bush does just in, if only because of name ID, he’ll jump to the top of the polls.  Can he stay there?

Please Stop Saying Establishment or Moderate Republicans

When talking about fights between different factions of the GOP there is a tendency to say that it’s the Tea Party v. the Establishment, or conservatives v. moderates.  This is simply laziness on the party of talking heads.   The reality is that in the fight between different GOP factions there are no moderates.  As for someone being part of the so-called establishment this is what the fight is about.  Right now there is no establishment controlling the party.  Deciding who that establishment is and where they will take the party is what the party is all about.

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It’s my party and I’ll gesture if I want to.

So if they aren’t moderates or the establishment, who is the opposition to the Tea Party?  They are Bush-Republicans.

Why?  Because they are pushing the former-President’s policies.   Don’t believe me, let’s review.  They are for an aggressive foreign policy (especially in the Middle East), favor increased military spending, support immigration reform, while they oppose Obamacare are in no rush to repeal the Bush prescription drug benefit, opposes cap and trade, support banning abortion,  oppose gun control measures like the assault weapons ban,  are against more regulations on Wall Street or businesses, back state’s banning gay marriage, oppose legalizing drugs, favor Common Core and NCLB.

While this is not libertarian, it is also a mistake to say it’s centrist or moderate.  Instead they are another shade of conservatism.  This is the conservatism of AEI, the Heritage Foundation, or the Wall Street Journal editorial page.  Are any of those moderate, centrist, or anything but conservative?

By calling them moderates or the establishment it creates the false impression that these positions are some how moderate or in the center of American politics.  If reporters were smart they would move away from painting one side the GOP fight as moderate and describe more accurately as the type of conservatives they really are – right in the model of George W. Bush.

Christie 2016 or Bush 2000?

The New York Times has a new article laying out Chris Christie’s shadow campaign for 2016.  If you read the piece and look at the donors he is cultivating and the support team he is assembling, it looks very much like Bush’s run in 2000.  He’s even spending large amounts of money to drive up support among Latino voters (something Bush in 1998 also).

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Christie’s GOP primary dream.

In theory this all makes sense.

After a bump in the road against John McCain, New Hampshire, Bush was able to win the nomination with the overwhelming support of the party.  Outside of McCain’s home state of Arizona the only non-New England state Bush lost was Michigan (see the map on the right).  Bush was able to quickly unify the party and get ready for the fall.

Christie would love a repeat of that.  Who wouldn’t?  But there is a big problem.  Chris Christie in 2013 is no George W. Bush in 1998.

First, Bush’s father was President of the United States and the party establishment had a great deal of affection for him and the family.  Christie does not have that.  In fact, in his one term Christie has alienated many Republicans by his embrace of President Obama after Hurricane Sandy.  Even many in the party’s establishment (RNC Committee Members) have said:

“I just really had a little bit of a problem with him embracing Obama. “I’ve got to get over that.”

If that is how member of the national committee feel, what do Iowa Tea Partiers think?

Also, Bush was a perfect cultural fit for the GOP electorate.  As a  born-again Christian from Texas he looked and sounded just like the party faithful (no pun intended).  Christie is a Catholic from the Northeast with a Jersey-accent.  So frankly he doesn’t look or sound the part.

We should further keep in mind that back in 1999 there was no Tea Party.  In fact, many groups like Citizens for a Sound Economy (the precursor to FreedomWorks and Americans For Prosperity) and Americans for Tax Reform enthusiastically supported Bush both in the primary and general election.  Christie will not enjoy that level of support in the primary and is already being attacked for being too pro-big government. His feud with Rand Paul is also not going to help in that regard.

Also, many of the people close to Bush have fallen out of favor with the GOP.   Having people close to Karl Rove is only going to further Tea Partiers distrust.  Look at how conservatives feel about Rove:

Christie is playing a text book establishment game.  But is 2016 the worst time to play that game with such a strongly anti-establishment mood in the party?

Who Will Andy Go Ga-Ga For?

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Almost as hysterical as Andrew Sullivan.

Andrew Sullivan is nothing if not prone to fits of hysterical adoration similar to a 13 year old girl at a One Direction concert.  Only this is level of almost psychotic fanfare is carried out over months if not years.

He fell in love with Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, George W. Bush and Barack Obama (he’s also fallen out of love with them and becomes equally as hysterical in opposing their actions).

So who will it be on 2016?  You know by 2016 his crush on Obama will wane and he hates the Clinton, that means it will be someone in the GOP. My money is on Chris Christie.

The Party of Bush

how_bush_helped_the_gop_commit_suicide-360x307New Gallup poll gives the GOP some bad news.  According to the poll  35%of Americans assign a high degree of blame to Bush alone for current economic problems.  At the same time 19% blame Obama.  The big problem here is that if the economy continues to get better under Obama than the GOP will be stuck with the label of the party that caused the recession.

If that perception holds you can bet the Democrats will use it attack every Republican economic policy.  For example, the Democrats did it in 2012:

It can take a party a long time to get rid of the label of failure.  Look at how long it took the Republicans to get away from being seen as the party of Herbert Hoover?  Or how long were the Democrats plagued by Jimmy Carter’s image of being weak and ineffective?

The reality is the only way to shake that image is to put yourself forward in both style and substance as something different from the past.  Is any doing on that on the GOP side right now?