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Posts tagged as “Jeb Bush”

Political resurrection


It won’t be an unrecorded miracle of the Lord. Nor will it be a modern-day Houdini act, but one can bet in six months the herd mentality that dominates the news of the nation will be talking about the political resurrection of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s presidential candidacy.

Remember that fella a few years back written off because of bimbo eruptions? He surprised the media by running second in the New Hampshire primary, and thus became “the Comeback Kid.”

So pervasive is the view that Jeb is roadkill one shouldn’t be surprised if those institutions of collective wisdom---the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal---don’t editorialize that Governor Bush should withdraw to help clear the field.

Jeb ought to print up a greeting card to send to all those writing him off with that famous Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain, his nom d’plume) quote embossed on the outside in both English and Spanish: “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

Twain, ironically, was responding to a reporter’s inquiry about his health and had written the reporter back. His response was published in the June 2nd, 1897 edition of the now defunct New York Journal.

There are at least two prominent Idaho Republicans who think it is too early, before even one ballot has been cast, to be reading Jeb’s obituary.

They are Boise attorney and former Idaho Attorney General, Lt. Governor and almost Governor David Leroy; and, Emily Baker, the office managing partner for the region-wide Gallatin Public Affairs firm.

Both can be called Bush loyalists as each has worked for either Bush “41” (George Herbert Walker Bush) or Bush “43” (George W. Bush). Neither, though, is a designated spokesperson for the Jeb Bush campaign. They are, however, members in good standing of the extended Bush family, and both articulated why it is way premature to write Jeb’s obit.

First, is the “competency and qualified” issue, which both think will matter when voters actually step into voting booths. They reason even many Tea Party Republicans will come back to their guy - it has been fun to flirt with the two major outsiders - but voting for president is serious business. Most folks will want the experience and qualifications of someone who has actually run a large government bureaucracy.

In the current Republican field only two have: Jeb Bush and Governor John Kasich of Ohio. Asked to respond to speculation that to jump start his campaign (and get past the debacle of the “Jeb Can Fix It” slogan) Bush might try to entice Kasich to be his “running mate” now. The thinking is there would be a clear perception that together they can deliver their home state’s electoral votes (Florida has 29 and Ohio has 18) in November, 2016.

Jeb knows the Republican ticket has to carry their home states to offset the lock presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will have on California’s 55 electoral votes.

This is a version of the second argument against counting Jeb down for the count. Jeb can win in November and he is the only Republican in the field that national polls have shown can run even or even defeat Mrs. Clinton.

Third, Jeb has the money (reportedly around $110 million) to stay in the game right to the convention . He has raised the most, still has the most (the exception being billionaire Trump who is self-financing), and more importantly the “money boys” on Wall Street are standing by him because they know those that run the RNC know the party is headed for extinction if its nomnee is an outsider, or an inexperienced senator.

One may ask just how can the national party manipulate the process to ensure a brokered convention?

The answer is GOP powers will mandates changes in the process of selecting national convention delegates. States will have to forego any winner-take-all-the-delegates primaries and caucuses. The party will mandate proportional to the vote allocation of delegates and/or whoever receives the most votes in a congressional district. The result regardless will be a brokered convention.

Then, in a back room behind closed doors “Wall Street” will dictate either the Bush/Kasich ticket, or give Mitt Romney another shot. Most intriguing, though, would be a “draft” of House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Fifth, and finally, there is a tenacity to the Buahes that they mask, but its there just beneath the skin. It is best exemplified by the matriarch, Barbara Bush. Quite simply all the Bushes know politics is a contact sport. They play to win, a simple fact one should never underestimate. They may forgive, they never forget.

Leroy and Baker make a compelling case reports on Jeb’s political demise if not exaggerated, are certainly premature.

First take

The most surprising thing about the Republican presidential debate was the questions, and how tough many of them were. Most especially the questions aimed at Donald Trump. Those were so fierce - not least the calling-out on an independent candidacy at the beginning, which ostensibly wasn't aimed at a single candidate (though it really was) - that a clear goal on the part of Fox of seriously damaging Trump was evident. If Trump's constituency were of a different kind, it might have worked, too. The questions hit home on such matters as party loyalty, violation of core party stands and more, matters that would kill off most candidates. But while the questions highlighted, they did not unearth. Trump's threat to run a third-party candidacy has been in the news, as had nearly everything else the Fox questioners brought up. Was Trump damaged by the debate? We'll find out more soon in the after-party polling, but I'd guess not. I think it's more likely Fox drove a wedge between itself and some of Trump's constituency, which may be led by the candidate to now view Fox as just another part of the establishment. And did other candidates gain? Maybe Marco Rubio, a little, since he came cross as polished at least and got some easy questions. In the kids' table debate, Carly Fiorina was described as projecting a strong presence, but she's way back in the pack to start. Jeb Bush did himself little good - he didn't crash, but he came across like a dull corporate attorney. Did the debate change the contours of the race? Probably not much. And on to round two.

In our household when we turn to "the news" on television, that has for many years meant Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert - no other regular "news" TV programming need apply, so poor has most of the quality gotten. (CSPAN is welcome, and scattered individual programming, but nothing else on a nightly basis.) So this has been a significant year: First Colbert and now Stewart, as of last night, have departed. The news won't be the same. But the future beckons. Larry Wilmore, while not yet the equal of either of those two, has been gaining some strength. And while we as yet have no idea of what job Stewart's successor will do, we do know that others can do the job well: A year ago, John Oliver did a terrific job filling in for three months, and he was promptly grabbed away to do his own program elsewhere. So good luck to the new order.

First take

It's under pressure that (and fiction writers know this well) character is most readily revealed. We now have a great vise that stands to be a useful character-revealer, in the form of the first Republican presidential debate of the new cycle, a little more than a week off. In the interest of holding a debate in which the various candidates have more than three or four minutes to speak, organizers have limited participation to the "top 10" candidates, as determined mainly by polling results. There's a problem here. While three of the current candidates - Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker - hold a discernible lead over the others, the other 13 "major" candidates are all clumped together in the mid- or low single digits, and most within a margin of error. There's no easy way to differentiate among them in polling terms, which means there's no easy way to determine which six won't make the cut - and thereby risk being characterized afterward as the minor candidates with minor support. What is this leading to? The New York Times describes some of it in its email report this morning: "Until Monday, most of the Republican-on-Republican violence in the 2016 presidential contest had been along familiar lines — Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey against Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky; Donald J. Trump against almost everybody. But the impending first Republican debate, which has a 10-candidate limit that has already prompted some attention-getting stunts, is quickly turning the race into a food fight." Which may dominate news reports for some days to come. - rs (photo/Senator Ted Cruz, by Michael Vadon)

First take

That Jeb Bush quote about working hours has a few more lines of subtlety than most people, including me, originally gave it. Here's what he said, in a form long enough to be in context: “My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That's the only way we're going to get out of this rut that we're in.”

My shorthanding of this was that Bush was calling on workers to work more hours - which in the case of fulltime workers, often can be expanding on what's already 50 or 60 hours, intruding in family and relaxation time, paid to a theoretical projection of a 40-hour week. That may not have been entirely fair.

A commenter, not a Jeb Bush fan, on my Facebook post where I noted this suggested, "I think what he was actually trying to say was the we need to get people who can only find parttime jobs back to working full time." That may be true, at least as part of what Bush was trying to convey, which would be reflective of a real and significant problem: The many part-time workers who want or even desperately need to get back to fulltime work.

But two other thoughts occur. One is that if Bush were trying to say that, it would have been very easy to say so: "I think we need to get back to full-time employment all those people who have only been able to find part-time work." Or something like that. Would it have been so hard?

The more important point is in looking at what he actually did say. He did not say his "aspiration for the country" is reduced unemployment for a full-time job for everyone who wants one. He said his "aspiration" is for 4% economic growth. That would be an increase - not enormous, but definite - over the current rate of growth. Overall, the United States has had strong increases in productivity for many decades. But one of the problems with the way economic growth is structured in the United States, in the last generation, is that almost all of the "growth" in wealth goes to a small sliver of wealthy people, and the vast majority gain no advantage from it. American workers have become steadily more productive over the last half-century, but middle-class wages for the last 40 years have been stagnant or worse. 90 percent of United States citizens, as matters stand, will reap no benefit from an increase in productivity to a 4% growth rate; much of that would probably come from jobs offshored or replaced by computers. The problem hasn't been productivity; it's been how the gains have been distributed.

Okay, Bush did make a quick reference to "gain more income for their families," but only as a lever to getting to that 4% growth. As Bush pursues his campaign, perhaps someone should ask him exactly who that additional growth in productivity is expected to benefit.

First take

There'll be a lot more of this to come, but I found today's Charles Krauthammer column of some interest (and that's not so typically the case) as a differentiator of the many Republican candidates: Who's in the top rank, who's just below that, etc. Krauthammer's take: On top - Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, based on polling and money; Second rank - Rand Paul ("high floor, low ceiling"), Ben Carson; Third rank but prospects for growth - Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina; and, seeking divine intervention - Rick Perry, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee. Best line: That Perry is on "24-hour gaffe watch." My take: all of these candidacies are built on sand but I'd especially down-rank Carson and Fiorina. One other thought: With Iowa Republicans cancelling the summer straw poll this year, the off-the-top-of-your-head analysis like these surely will proliferate.

The number of people answering "none" to the question of "what's your religion" has been growing rapidly in just the last few years and is picking up steam. After many years in which the "nones" were reported in mid-single digit percentages, the number has been shooting upward of late, reaching - in the new Pew Research Center poll - about 23%. That happens to be more than the number of Roman Catholics in the United States. Speculation here is that this reflects not so much a change of attitude or belief as it does a willingness to give the "none" answer: In many places across the country, being unchurched is just socially unacceptable. Maybe not so much any more, and the numbers may indicate the approach of a tipping point. If so, it could be in line with the way several other social questions have gone in the last decade or so.