What did it really take for the Republican Party to come out and admit that George W. Bush was a failed president with a failed White House? Was it the fact that his approval ratings were trash and led to the birth of Obama, Pelosi and Reid getting record power levels from 2006 and 2008? Was it him doubling the national debt? The failed Iraq War? The failed Afghanistan War? Guantanamo Bay? Scooter Libby? Medicare Part B? No Child Gets Ahead? Not being able to pronounce nuclear? Well, it doesn’t appear to be any of that, but just seemed to the GOP putting their heads down and quietly admitting the failure of the W. era in the form of the younger brother, Jeb.
Jeb Bush was sort of the kid who had someone ruin everything for him before he even got into the game. He walked into a race where about half of the Republican Party was just sick and tired of his family and his brand. He walked into a race where people just had the line “No more Bushes! No more Clintons”. It was this campaign style which, despite him raising a record 130m in his first quarter, he never once for a single day in this election cycle was able to take a national lead above the margin of error. He even had relative no names such as Scott Walker come out of the woodwork and beat him by significant numbers. Yet there’s one defining reason his campaign failed: he walked into the race telling people he was going to be the nominee.
I am someone who is a registered Republican. I am someone who wants the Republican Party to be the party of liberty and freedom. I am someone who wants the GOP to be a place where everyone can be welcomed to run for office and have a competitive and fair race wherein the people decide who wins. This was just never the narrative of the Bush campaign. Instead of having a fan base who would ask what people wanted, Jeb found himself with an army of Fox News anchors, K Street types and empty personality establishment types who just went “Well… You know he’s going to be president!”. Going to an event such as the Conservative Political Action Conference or meeting with members of the House or Senate, this almost utopian presence was felt with the Jeb people (the few that existed) that we should just settle for him. It was the feeling of frustration and really everything wrong with the last two decades of American politics going into the continued push for corruption and false conservatism.
With Jeb Bush, I had friends actually back him or sort of feel scared to say bad things about him. These were people who wanted to get more active in the professional and political world and had this prediction for themselves that Jeb will probably be the nominee. Despite almost no polling that actually existed in making him a visible frontrunner, the media just insisted on him being the nominee. I’d watch Fox News pundits put odds on candidates and all of them would give 75-100% odds on Jeb Bush being the GOP nominee. It was a time where if someone was on the ground floor of the Republican Party, either from the Internet, events or visiting early primary states, they’d not see any Jeb supporters, but people in the high towers were saying he’s unbeatable with limited evidence.
Nonetheless, he’s now dropped out of the presidential race.
He raised more money than any candidate for a presidential primary in history. He held major endorsements from multiple key politicians over the last two decades. He had hidden media backing from kingpins such as the typical Fox News Gang. He was the most well-known candidate in the field with his last name having been in American politics for the last 35 years. What did it get him? A sixth place finish in Iowa with a measly 3% where he had to compete with Rick Santorum, who never even made one prime time debate for that spot. A fourth place showing in New Hampshire where he fell behind Ted Cruz, who he had spent 40-50 times as much money on in that state over the Texas Senator who barely even campaigned there. And finally to end it all, he had to play tag with John Kasich to get a very distant fourth place in South Carolina despite having spent tens of millions there. With that record of failure and a fortune wasted, Jeb finally ended things and really ended the Bush legacy.
What were the reasons why Jeb lost and what does this mean for the Republican primary moving forward?
Reason 1. His name.
The legacy of W. is the legacy of a failed president. Where Bill Clinton enjoys a post-administration lifestyle of parading around and being a public figure, W., rightfully, has spent the last seven years in a borderline-Howard Hughes level of silence away from the public eye. Jeb followed this up and just could never decide if he was the same or different. The end result was the wishy-washy nature that created something even W. loyalist abandoned.
Reason 2. Marco Rubio.
What Rubio gave K Street was a Tea Party-friendly and sexy version of neocon establishment politics. A good looking youthful senator who had massive charisma, was from Jeb’s state of Florida and someone who can promise to bomb anything while holding popular. Add that he’s a totally self-made man who has a bartender father and maid mother, creating the perfect candidate. He simply was from day one more viable to W. fans and people on K Street who weren’t living under a rock the size of Dick Cheney’s Halliburton cash knew it.
Reason 3. Donald Trump.
Let this be said: I hate Donald Trump as a candidate. I would have voted for Jeb Bush before Donald Trump in almost every single way. Jeb is simply a better person to trust with being president over Trump, and not peddling around failed populist ideas such as closed borders and tariffs. That said, Trump absolutely ripped Jeb to pieces. Watching Jeb Bush and Donald Trump have their little debate rumbles became memorable and quotable highlights which always had Jeb lying dead on the curb. It made him a joke. He was a candidate people couldn’t take seriously, and someone who, while defending himself, came off as pathetic (as a loser like Trump would say). He started out in the middle of the debate floor, went to the end and now with South Carolina has fallen off.
Reason 4. America being America.
It was summer, and I was enjoying a phone call with one of my close friends, Dave. We always talk about what the average semi-socially awkward East Coast based men would discuss while in their 20s: Sex… Deadpool… Sex… Work… Sex… Politics… Sex… Walking Dead… Sex… We have these talks and we both share a mutual dislike for the failed W. administration and neocon political thinking. In this talk, I casually mentioned that Jeb had a son elected to statewide office in Texas. Dave wasn’t aware of this, but he looked him up. Dave was, honestly, freaking out over the phone. A young Mexican man named George P. Bush was a rising star in Texas politics, was an Iraq War veteran, and had a Harvard MBA. He looked at this and just went “They bred a fourth Bush administration”. This represents the Bush family in its greatest form, and something America has been against since inception: royalty. The wealthy Connecticut senator, Prescott Bush, in the Rockefeller Republicans having a son who became a soldier, oil tycoon, senator, head of the CIA, Vice President and finally president, only to have two sons who’d run for president and one be successful. This only for George P. Bush to seem to be the perfect man created to run for president in 2024 or 2028. This was just the legacy wanting to go further. This was anti-American and perhaps the biggest thing going against the Jeb campaign: the fact that America and the Republican Party don’t want the oligarchy of Bush v. Clinton.
It’s now key to look at what South Carolina means and what Jeb leaving does to this race.
It is clear that Trump is the frontrunner, holding a stable lead, while Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in state after state command about 18-30% each. This is where Trump holds a stable one-third of the vote. Before this, Bush, Kasich, and Carson filled in the missing pieces with each of them holding about 4-12% apiece depending on the state. Now that Bush has left the race four months late, it is safe to say the 4-12% he had can now progress towards Marco Rubio, who has now, with Iowa and South Carolina, proven that his establishment/Tea Party hybrid holds him a solid 20% of the vote in pretty much every state which Jeb and Kasich seem to squeeze out (with New Hampshire being the example of that). Jeb leaving can finally offer Rubio a real surge, mixing with undecided and only for the winner voters. This presents a real case for him to take 100% of the Jeb backers, a small portion of Trump supporters, and some Kasich people, to get him holding 33-40% of the vote in certain states.
This is a three-man race now. It seems Carson will be out shortly and Kasich will end things on a failed Super Tuesday. Almost undeniably, the Moe, Larry and Curly routine of the Rubio v. Trump v. Cruz election will go to a brokered convention in which anything is possible. Likely the DNC is also facing a friendlier and less confusing battle at their convention with the colder growing rivalry of Clinton v. Sanders. This election has proven to be a crazy ride and it will get far crazier and bitterer over the next eight months. With that; this libertarian is happy that Jeb is out though.
This post was written by Charles Peralo.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.