Look, I get it: campaigns have to unfold themselves carefully, exploiting the opportunity to generate buzz and appeal to different audiences at every stage. The political news cycle, heading into the long, cold post-Cromnibus twilight of late December, needs something to talk about. When a man with a pocketful of quarters sees an idle media machine labeled “INSERT QUARTER FOR DAYS OF BREATHLESS COVERAGE,” you can’t blame him for plunking a coin in the slot and pulling the lever.
Still, it’s hilarious to watch everyone in mediaspace pretend that Jeb Bush’s Tuesday announcement to form a committee to review the possibility of thinking about exploring his options with an eye toward conceivably establishing an organization to join the crowd of Republicans seeking the 2016 presidential nomination is a skillet full of sizzling hot news. Unleash the Jebbernaut, and let the political ground tremble!
Not to poke too much fun at Bush – I have my issues with the parameters of his hypothetical candidacy, but he’s doing what any proto-candidate in his position would do. It might not even be entirely his idea to jump now, or more to the point announce the forthcoming establishment of a Committee to Analyze the Feasibility of Jumping. It’s widely thought that Jeb Bush is moving now because Mitt Romney is also entertaining the possibility of drafting a plan to prepare a committee to think about studying the feasibility of running again in 2016. Bush and Romney have a lot of donor overlap. They’ll be trying to hold comparable political ground in the Republican primaries. Bush might also be thinking about the media space available for rent in the wake of the Cromnibus drama, which the GOP Establishment is trying very hard to spin as a defeat for one of Bush’s potential 2016 rivals, Senator Ted Cruz. If the spirit of our new annual Cromnibusukahmasween holiday could be said to incarnate in a single viable Republican, it would be Jeb Bush.
Political media desperate for content, and policy wonks already running simulations of the 2016 race behind their knotted brows, are scrutinizing Bush’s Facebook declaration for every scrap of symbolism and portent, including the fact that it’s a Facebook post (demonstrating his youthful spirit and tech savvy!) He begins by offering wishes for both a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, but alas does not work in the new Cromnibus holiday that has become such an indelible part of our winter season. (I’m still working on exactly what the traditional greeting should be. I’m leaning toward “Have a lavishly funded Cromnibusukahmasween!” Also, based on a conversation with radio host Chris Stigall this morning, I think the greeting card should take the form of an I.O.U. from the U.S. Treasury, printed with festive red ink, of course.)
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!
Like many of you, our family was blessed with the opportunity to gather together over the recent Thanksgiving holiday.
Columba and I are so proud of the wonderful adults our children have become, and we loved spending time with our three precious grandchildren.
We shared good food and watched a whole lot of football.
We also talked about the future of our nation. As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States.
In January, I also plan to establish a Leadership PAC that will help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation. The PAC???s purpose will be to support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.
In the coming months, I hope to visit with many of you and have a conversation about restoring the promise of America.
Best wishes to you and your families for a happy holiday season. I???ll be in touch soon.
I don’t suppose Senator Marco Rubio attended this year’s Jeb Bush food and football weekend, did he? Because he also just announced the formation of a committee to explore the possibility of a presidential run. Rubio’s event is set for late January at the splendid Delano hotel in Miami. I wonder what the Delano conference room looks like with all the oxygen sucked out of it.
These exploratory announcements are the standard preliminary step for feeling donors out, and maybe judging interest from Republican primary voters – although it this point what matters is whether the donor class thinks you’re electable, especially if you’re an Establishment guy. That’s probably more true than ever this time around, with Romney putting out feelers, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie feeling his oats after Bridgegate vindication (not to mention that blocking off bridges and major intersections is suddenly very cool with the media-corridor Left.) Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker waits in the wings, to remind donors that he’s both Establishment-friendly and more appealing to the conservative base than most other center-right picks, and he’ll walk into the nomination process across a carpet of crushed Democrat dreams. The Establishment thinks it finished off the conservative insurgency and Tea Party movement in the 2014 primaries, so the action will all be in the soft, creamy center of Republican politics come 2016.
That means a lot of plausible candidates will be jockeying for donor-class affections, probably including a few who haven’t cleared their throats yet. Some of their rationales will be strengthened, or weakened, by the likely choice of Democrat candidate – does anyone from any corner of the political spectrum really want to see a dynastic battle between Bush and Clinton? Conversely, the Democrat pick may be influenced by the rising fortune of certain Republicans; there are easy “Bush dynasty” cards to be played by anyone other than Hillary Clinton who runs against the Jebbernaut.
The one factor that won’t matter at this stage is the conservative base of the Republican Party. They’re a complete non-factor in the first chess moves of GOP kingmakers. Bush and his advisers speak of conservatives as an obstacle to be overcome, not a valued constituency to be represented. The strategy for overcoming them hasn’t changed much in decades: assume they’ll show up no matter what, because they’ll be suitably motivated by a burning desire to defeat the Democrat. Why anyone still believes that after watching Mitt Romney lose to President Jayvee McSolyndra is anyone’s guess, but conservatives can be as confident they’ll be taken for granted by the Republican hierarchy as black voters are by the Democratic aristocracy.
One of the biggest X-factors hanging over this particular contest is voter attitudes about immigration and Obama’s illegal amnesty orders. Conventional wisdom says the weary American people will have lapsed into submission and taken the issue off the table in a few months; the GOP establishment just has to wait until the roots of Obama’s program are deep enough, then throw up their hands and declare repeal is impossible, no matter what they said while they were doing such an ace job of negotiating that high-stakes Cromnibus deal. If that’s not how it shakes out, Jeb Bush’s “illegal immigration is an act of love” path to the nomination might be a little more difficult to negotiate.