The ebb of Jeb


Jeb Bush has finally faced up to the fact that he is not going to be president of the US and has ended his campaign for the Republican nomination. It must be a particularly bitter pill for him to swallow given that he was the son, not his brother George W, who was always thought to be the one who would be president and was groomed for it by his parents,

While GW was older, he was the wild and irresponsible one, while Jeb was the serious one who built up a resume as governor of Florida as a stepping stone to the presidency. But GW’s surprising rise to the presidency and his terrible policies in office left such a dubious Bush legacy that Jeb could neither shake off nor embrace his family, despite his attempts during his campaign to do both at different times. It did not help that Donald Trump knocked him off his stride from the get-go and he simply did not have the political instincts to recover, running at best a lackluster campaign. There is little doubt in my mind that had Trump not been in the race, Jeb could have easily won the Republican nomination, given his overwhelming financial and institutional party support.

There is a parable somewhere in this story of the ne’er do well sibling coming out ahead of the responsible one, but neither the tale of the biblical prodigal son nor the story of the ant and the grasshopper quite seems to fit.

One must wonder at the many ‘what ifs’ going through Jeb’s mind. He was governor of Florida during the infamous recount of the 2000 election and he worked mightily to see that his state’s electoral college votes went to his brother, giving him the presidency. If he had not put his finger on the scales so heavily and GW had lost, Jeb might well have been able to become president later, perhaps in 2008, unencumbered by the public’s Bush fatigue, and at a time before Trump made his move.

This passage from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (Act IV, Scene 3) spoken by Brutus perhaps best describes Jeb’s situation.

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

History will record that Jeb missed his current and lost his venture.

Comments

  1. raven says

    One must wonder at the many ‘what ifs’ going through Jeb’s mind.

    Assumes fact not in evidence, to whit: That John Ellis actually has a mind.

    It became apparent early on the J. Ellis was cosmically dumb. He was lost anywhere that requires a functioning brain.

  2. StevoR says

    @4. Marcus Ranum : yet he’s governor of Florida and as others have noted playe da role in getting “Dubya” tehPresidency so that claim is pretty dubious.

    I will admit I was wrong in thinking – expecting Jeb Bush to be the Republican nomineee. I certainly wasn’t alone in being surprised by how badly he’s been derailed. I think its a shame and a worry if the relative Repub moderates end losing badly to their extremist rivals like Trump and Cruz.

  3. grendelsfather says

    It became apparent early on the J. Ellis was cosmically dumb. He was lost anywhere that requires a functioning brain.

    QFT. Who knew that W was the smart one?

    JEB! never took his campaign seriously. Early on he was asked about whether his brother’s idea to invade Iraq for no apparent reason was a good idea. Given his family legacy, he had to know that this question would come up, and he should have had a great answer ready (‘Hell no!’ would have worked) or never entered the race. He never appeared to put in any serious work (except for his early fund raising) and just assumed that the country was hungry for another Bush.

  4. sonofrojblake says

    Is there any reason to think he won’t try this again in four or eight years?

    In four or eight years, a Jeb Bush candidacy could be derailed entirely – be absolutely humiliated – by a single quote from Donald Trump. And that’s the case whether or not Trump wins the nomination or the presidency. Jeb Bush is a tragic joke, and he will never, ever recover. http://www.vox.com/2016/2/20/11080952/jeb-bush-please-clap

  5. says

    SteveOr@#6:
    @4. Marcus Ranum : yet he’s governor of Florida and as others have noted playe da role in getting “Dubya” tehPresidency so that claim is pretty dubious.

    Who was governor of Florida when Millard Fillmore was president?

    Yeah, me either.

  6. Pierce R. Butler says

    While GW was older, he was the wild and irresponsible one, while Jeb was the serious one who built up a resume as governor of Florida as a stepping stone to the presidency.

    They both first ran for their respective governorships in 1994. However, Dubious had Karl Rove’s nasty little brain working for him, and won; Jeb! had to use his own brain, and had the bad luck to face the last of the popular and competent Florida Democrats (one Lawton Chiles), so was compelled to wait for his turn in Tallahassee until 1998.

    Had Chiles decided to stick with his retirement in ’94 and Jeb! defeated whichever nonentity the Dems ran instead, the brothers would have had equal “experience” in office by 2000, probably leaving it for their parents to decide which would have run against Al Gore to give us the long-threatened Y2K calamity.

  7. lorn says

    And Jeb! is the “smart” one.

    As a Florida resident I watched how Jeb worked. He was all about the quick fix and abstract articles of faith dogmatically applied to real, complicated, lives.

    Yes, you can get businesses to come to Florida by lavishing them with tax breaks, give aways, and guaranteed profits. And for a few years you can bask in the glow of short term success and indicators. But, in the end, if a business needs huge tax breaks and discounts to succeed it isn’t going to last long after the breaks expire. If anything this points out the fact that business is even more prone to welfare dependency than individuals.

    That was a story that was, by design, easy to overlook. The huge red flag of heartless ethical decay, an unwillingness to see the individuals, and willingness to do virtually anything to gain a short term advantage was the Terri Schiavo case. The entire event was played for political effect to establish Jeb’s conservative credentials and doctrinal consistency to set up his aspirations to higher office.

    This too was quickly forgotten, mainly because it is so ugly. A woman and family burdened by a tragedy but forced to live on as an empty husk for fifteen years because it was politically advantageous. An disgracefully lurid and spectacular tug of war over a corpse between those wanting to bury it and those who wished to worship it. All played out nightly on national TV. At an estimated $80,000 per year to keep her body alive and people literally dying for lack of funding for needed medical care it became a $1.2 million dollar monument to Jeb’s ego and the need to maintain his political viability. All leading to this … sad little failure to launch.

    A longish but good account:
    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/01/jeb-bush-terri-schiavo-114730

  8. StevoR says

    @9. Marckuss Ranumb : “Who was governor of Florida when Millard Fillmore was president?”

    The answer is Thomas Brown who also invented the post office box :

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Brown_(Florida_politician)

    As governor, Brown tried to improve Florida’s transportation system. Also, he complained that Florida was making slow progress on education. On January 6, 1853, he signed the bill that provided public support to higher education. East Florida Seminary in Ocala was one of the first schools to utilize this funding, but it soon closed due to the Civil War. In 1866, EFS reopened in Gainesville, and the University of Florida traces its history to this institution.

    Seems from that he was a pretty smart and good governor and Floridian – much better than Jeb! Still a blip? Or y’know just a historical figure who did leave a legacy and is down in history, which, come to think of it aren’t you claiming expertise in yourself?

    Took me all of about five minutes to discover this information – thanks Wikipedia!

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