The joke has been made many times over the years that if Jeb Bush’s name were Jeb Jones, he might have been a much more serious contender for president. Funny that for the eight years his brother George was president, a lot of people had the assumption that it was only his last name that got him that far. Now, it’s that very last name that could keep Jeb from attaining the same office.
The Jeb comeback began in earnest last week, when the former Florida governor embarked on a media blitz to promote his new book about immigration policy, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution. He even did “The Full Ginsburg,” appearing on all five Sunday talk shows on the same day.
John Ellis Bush was a popular two-term governor of a large and diverse state, is well-financed, and has some biographical advantages in a changing country: His wife is Hispanic, he’s Catholic while the rest of the Bushes are Protestant, and he speaks Spanish fluently. He’s also considered strong on the more-crucial-than-ever immigration issue, having dealt with it as governor, and that along with his biography, will supposedly draw voters in a way other Republican candidates can’t.
Perhaps most importantly, unlike certain other members of his family, his name isn’t synonymous with blithering idiocy, nor is he associated with high-profile foreign, domestic and economic failures.
But even so, the idea of a Jeb Bush presidency, or even a presidential run, is pretty absurd, for quite a few reasons:
1. The Republican Party, in the years since Bush 43 left office, has lived in a parallel universe in which there was no such president as George W. Bush. Does the GOP want to run in all 50 states with the name “Bush” on campaign signs? I just don’t see it.
2. If he mounts a 2016 campaign, Jeb will have last held office a full 10 years prior, and he’s been keeping a pretty low profile in the intervening decade.
3. The Obama presidency is getting us beyond tired, boomer-centric politics of the Clinton and Bush eras. Does anyone want another Clinton vs. another Bush, with Hillary running against Jeb?
4. Jeb’s timing seems a bit off. What kind of would-be candidate releases a book and lays the groundwork for a possible campaign roll-out, three years and nine months before the election?
5. His ever-evolving position on immigration. The punditocracy’s reaction to Jeb’s media blitz has mostly concentrated on his supposedly strongest issue. Not a good sign.
6. Just in general, isn’t it a tad premature to speculate about the next presidential election, just two months into the current presidential term? Chances are Jeb Bush is just one of 15-20 Republican flavors of the month, between today and the 2016 Iowa caucuses, who will write a book, do the Sunday talk show rounds and come with a creatively nuanced position on immigration reform. There are almost 10 different Republicans who enjoyed a moment as frontrunner during the 2012 cycle, and that was just after primary season started.
7. One of those likely Republican flavors of the month? Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who happens to be a protege of … Jeb Bush. Could get awkward, as illustrated in this New Republic profile.
8. Weak as the Republican brand looks these days, it’s not hard to imagine Chris Christie catching fire in a primary season, or Marco Rubio, or even Paul Ryan. But Jeb Bush? That’s just exceedingly unlikely.