Jeb Bush, End of the Line

The New York Times headline kind of says it all, Jeb Bush Bows Out of Campaign, Humbled and Outgunned.

Jeb Bush dropped out of the presidential race on Saturday, ending a quest for the White House that started with a war chest of $100 million, a famous name and a promise of political civility, but ended with a humbling recognition: in 2016, none of it mattered.

I’ve written a lot about Jeb as an unstable, unprepared, and unserious candidate, so I’m not sad to see him go.  So if anyone wonders if his master plan of winning the nomination without the base was working, the answer is clearly no.

Despite (or maybe because) the fact he never would have won against Hillary, even if she ran her campaign from a jail cell, he was declared the front runner by the media, and continued to consider himself the front runner, even after Trump exploded the primary race and his numbers fell.  He never made a compelling reason for his campaign and in spite of a media generated image as a deep thinker and policy wonk, was incoherent and contradictory, such was when during his book tour on immigration, he contradicted in an interview the main thesis of his book.  Just a word of advice, if you are a politician and have a book ghostwritten, you should at least read your own book.

And who can forget when it took him five days to answer a question about Iraq, the most obvious question he should have expected upon entering the race?

And this was supposed to be the smart Bush?

Well he can now slink back to Miami where he can turn off all English language media, and he and Columba can sit around and try to figure out what they are going to do with all of those left over guac bowls.

 

CNN Debate Observations

 

Prez debate

I’m of the mind that most TV “debate” shows are a joke. They’re not really debates, they’re joint press conferences, and the stars are always the debate moderators.  So why TV news personalities are debate moderators is a puzzle.  They don’t know how to moderate or control the flow of questions, and being TV people, they always want to make it about themselves, as Megyn Kelly and Candy Crowley demonstrated when they had their turn at bat.

So when I heard Jake Tapper’s pre debate explanation of how the debate was going to run; they were going to ask questions of candidates about what the other (read Trump) candidates said, I thought that for CNN, this was only about trying to start fights for ratings, and certainly the CNN radio ads I heard promoting the debate sounded nothing if not like Wrestling Promos.  And it apparently worked.  The debate was the highest rated event in CNN history, garnering 20 million viewers.

The format worked on the viewer level too.  It was one of the more freewheeling political debates I’ve seen.  The candidates actually engaged with each other, rather than simply answering the moderator’s questions. That being said, I had a few observations about the debate:

No real losers to the debate, but Jeb once again failed to live up to donor expectations.  On a scale from one to ten, he went from a two to a four.  That’s due to taking Trump’s advice and start displaying more energy.

I rarely agree with the conventional wisdom, but this time I agree that best performance was by Carly Fiorina.  One good performance could be a fluke, but two in a row look like a trend.

Chris Christie also did well.  When he gets airtime, he can put on a good show. Under this debate he got enough airtime, 13 minutes, to make a good impression.

Ignore whatever the media says about who won.  For the last debate, they declared Kasich the winner based solely on preferring his positions on immigration and gay marriage.

Carson and Huckabee are vying for the slot of evangelical candidate, and Carson is running far ahead.  Huckabee is trying to go over the top in supporting Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis, who is trying to cloak herself in religion to keep her from doing her job.  How invested evangelicals are in Davis may be what makes a difference for Huckabee.

There were of course the others, who made little impression (at least on me).

And then there’s Trump… (sung to the tune of the Maude theme song)

Jake Tapper tried to slip the noose of the anti vax truther aroundTrump, a situation he was able to slip out of rather easily.  But he didn’t out and out deny the autism-vaccination link, a weakness which allowed Salon and Slate to declare Trump as still harping the anti vaccination line.  Of course your average Slate or Salon reader will be predisposed to hate Trump anyway.  But journalists read Slate and Salon, so expect further anti-vax questions in the future.

Trump was also weak on policy, specifically foreign policy. I expected him to change tactics this debate to “keep’em guessing”, and he did; he cooled the slapstick and insults and tried to be agreeable, but I expected he would bring some foreign policy zingers to the table to show gravitas for the talking heads. He didn’t do that.

Trump can’t wait until he’s President to bone up on these issues or he’s never going to be President. He needs to bone up now and start demonstrating how much detail he knows about our various foreign policy issues.  It can be done.  Marco Rubio, as a first term senator, already has shown a command of foreign policy issues and has been able to stay ahead of journalists trying to trip him up.

This is not the end of Trump, but if doesn’t start showing that he can discuss policy particulars, rather than just say this will be great, this could be the beginning of the end of Trump.

 

Jeb Bush is Certifiable III: The Wrath of Iraq

Its mind boggling to me that the single most obvious question that potential candidate Jeb Bush would be asked caught him completely unaware.  First with Megyn Kelly on Fox:

In an interview set to air Monday, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly asked presumptive presidential candidate Jeb Bush if he would have authorized the invasion of Iraq in 2003 “knowing what we know now.”

“I would have,” the Republican answered. “And so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, and so would have almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence that they got.”

OK, maybe he misheard the question; it’s Monday right?

Monday meme

 

 

 

 

 

So on Tuesday, Jeb goes on Hannity to clear things up.

“I interpreted the question wrong I guess…Knowing what we know now, you know, clearly there were mistakes as it related to faulty intelligence in the lead-up to the war and the lack of focus on security. And my brother’s admitted this, and we have to learn from this.”

Blah blah blah, but as to knowing what we know now?

I don’t know what that decision would have been, that’s a hypothetical”

So mistakes were made, and apparently by that mysterious entity known as the third person, and a refusal to answer.

Now many times it’s fair to say that hypothetical questions shouldn’t be answered, however the Iraq War wasn’t hypothetical, it was real, and an answer to that question is an excellent proxy to all sorts of foreign policy views.

Particularly if your last name is Bush.

On Wednesday, Bush got ambushed by a college student and was able, finally to give a half way decent answer to a question about Iraq, however it’s somewhat damning with faint praise to say he handled a question by a 19 year old idiot. But when he was asked questions by grownups According to the Washington Post, Jeb double downed on Tuesdays mistakes-were-made-hypothetical’s answer:

He was later asked about comments aired by Fox News on Monday that he would have ordered the Iraq invasion even knowing how the war unfolded and that intelligence used to justify the war was faulty. On Tuesday, Bush clarified his comments, saying he had misunderstood the question.

But a man in Reno asked Bush, “You said I think it was yesterday that I don’t want to answer hypotheticals. Don’t you think running for president is hypothetical when you say, if I run for president dot-dot-dot?”

“Rewriting history is hypothetical,” Bush replied.

He said that he had misinterpreted the question from Fox’s Megyn Kelly to mean “Knowing what you knew then, what would you do?”

“And I answered it honestly and I answered it the way I answer it all the time, which is that there were mistakes made, but based on the information we had, it was the right decision,” he said.

“What we ought to be focused on is what are the lessons learned?” he added. “There are two lessons. One is, if you’re going to go to war, make sure that you have the best intelligence possible and the intelligence broke down. That’s clear, clearly one of the mistakes of this. And secondly, if you’re going to do this have a strategy of security and a strategy and have a strategy to get out. And both of those things didn’t work the way they did, although I give my brother credit. Once the mess was created, he solved that mess with the surge and created when he left a much more stable Iraq that now, that was squandered in some ways when President Obama did not keep any small amount of troop level.”

Bush also dismissed “hypothetical” questions about the origins of the Iraq war as a “disservice” to U.S. troops who died or were injured in the war, and to their families.

By Thursday, Jeb was in Arizona and finally seemed to suspect that he might actually be asked about Iraq, and he had better come up with an answer.

If we’re all supposed to answer hypothetical questions: Knowing what we now know, what would you have done? I would not have engaged. I would not have gone into Iraq.

And on Friday:

Friday

As I’ve argued here and here, Jeb Bush is mentally unprepared to be President.  All he cares about are illegal immigrants and when he’s not talking about that, it’s as if he’s never thought of the issue before, even when the issue is the most predictable question any potential candidate has ever gotten.

 

 

 

Jeb Bush is Certifiable: Part Deux

Jeb Bush 2I had written last month that I had thought Jeb Bush was a little bit cray cray because of his need to remake himself as someone he isn’t: a Hispanic.  So completely has he tried to strip away the culture he was born in, as scion of a northeastern WASP family, that his do over as El Jeb the Immigrant looks odd and uncomfortable. Now comes word that it’s passed into full scale delusion.  The New York Times reports that:

Mr. Bushy, a former Florida governor and likely presidential candidate, was born in Texas and hails from one of America’s most prominent political dynasties.  But on at least one occasion, it appears he got carried away with his appeal to Spanish-speaking voters and claimed he actually was Hispanic.

In a 2009 voter-registration application, obtained from the Miami-Dade County Elections Department, Mr. Bush marked Hispanic in the field labeled “race/ethnicity.”

Carried away is putting it mildly.

Bush of course quickly sent out a tweet apologizing for his “mistake.”  But I’m not buying that.  This is the same guy who claimed he was Florida’s first “Latino Governor.”  Even if Bush was a Latino, that position was already taken by Bob Martinez. Such monomaniacal focus on remaking himself, at this stage in his life, is a red flag to me of a host of mental issues.

Don’t put this guy in the White House.

Jeb Bush is Certifiable

Jeb Bush was in Iowa last week sticking his toe in the water to see if he really could win the general by losing the primary.  I have to give him credit; he’s willing to stick to unpopular positions, even if they are politically toxic.  He reiterated his support for Common Core, which is unpopular with some conservative activists, and opposed renewal fuel standards, which although they are not popular with Republicans in general, are popular in Iowa. So he’s not afraid to run against the grain. But I just can’t, in this or any other parallel universe, imagine Jeb Bush winning the Republican nomination.     Jeb Bush

David Frum wrote a piece in The Atlantic last month describing Bush as a Republican version of Obama in that they have created artificial identities to hide behind.  In Bush’s case, he is from a northeastern WASP family via Texas and now regards himself as an adopted Hispanic, speaking Spanish in the home, converting to Roman Catholicism, and moving to the Capital of Latin America, Miami.   He may be the Republican Obama, but that’s not really his problem.

I don’t think Jeb will be the nominee because:

Last name Bush. Dynasties don’t wear as well with Republicans as they do with Democrats. If Carolyn Kennedy threw her pill box shaped hat in the race, she would have a decent shot because…last name Kennedy. And this is even though she’s an incompetent who blew her chance to be appointed senator by being unable to talk in interviews. Hillary is the Democratic “front runner” now only because of dynasty.

His family is messed up.  His wife isn’t comfortable in English (probably because of the practice of speaking Spanish at home), She also has a shopping problem. All of his kids have been arrested at least once and his daughter was a drug addict.  Not exactly a picture perfect first family.

But the real clincher is that the only national issue Jeb is associated with is amnesty, which is unpopular with the base.  Now of course whoever does end up with the nomination will probably be pro amnesty too since any anti-amnesty candidate won’t be able to get the funds to run. Republican donors are as pro amnesty as Chuck Schumer. But the other candidates will be associated with other issues. Jeb won’t. And on that issue he looks vacillating and contradictory. As I have written about previously, he came out with a book in 2013 about amnesty in which he proposed not offering a path to citizenship. Since he had always supported amnesty with citizenship before, on day 1 of his book tour he was asked why he changed his mind, and he stammered and it turned out he hadn’t changed his mind at all. So the first day of his book tour he disavowed the central premise of the book he was trying to sell. That will come up over and over in 2016.

Of course, what Jeb was hoping for was that by the time 2016 rolled around, amnesty would have been a done deal, and he could have pointed to the book to say, “See? I was opposed to citizenship!” That would place him to the right of the actual policy. I think the odds look poor for that now.

As a governor he wasn’t bad and was pretty tight with the State dollar, however he didn’t have any input in Federal areas like immigration. Frum’s article does make a good case for the similarities between Jeb and Obama, but I think the real take away is that when it comes to immigration, Jeb is certifiable. He seems to have no other passions other than illegal immigrants. And it’s not even a logical obsession.  It’s actually more about preferring Latin Culture and people to the more Anglo variety that Jeb hails from.  How else to explain the illogic of wanting to grant people who illegally cross the border amnesty (who are mostly Hispanic), but deport people who actually entered the country legally, but overstayed their visas (and who are primarily not Hispanic)?   Never has an American politician been so blatant about replacing me and my family with someone else that he likes better. Bush is obviously carrying around some mental issues about his fellow Americans.

The Democrats are far more circumspect than this.

I hate to be one of those, “I’ll never vote for…” types who swear they’ll never vote if McCain/Romney/fill in the blank wins the nomination, but I think Jeb would actually be worse than any conceivable Democrat.  Except maybe Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, and even then, I’m not sure Gutiérrez is as obsessed with illegals as Jeb is.

 

 

Scott Walker Peaking Too Early?

Scott Walker’s “surprise” win of the Kansas Straw Poll may be a shock to the establishment, but its zero surprise to me. Walker’s win has generated a flurry of articles on Walker as well as an appearance on This Week. But as far back as a year ago, I predicted Walker would probably be the best all around choice for the 2016 Republican primary process. He’s a governor of a purple/blue State who rose to national prominence battling the budget, pension reform, and unions.  He is attractive to both establishment types for a solid record of actually winning, and grass roots types for the ability to take on and wrestle to the ground left leaning special interests; something that’s not seen much these days.Scott Walker

Walker’s national prominence came about with his fight with Wisconsin public sector unions.  I wrote about the skirmish back in 2011 and thought at the time that Walker’s victory could have spelled the beginning of the end for public sector unions.  Alas, so far that victory has remained just Walker’s.   But the enmity he earned from both local and national Democrats and the left in general lead to a recall election, which Walker won handily.

By Republican standards, Walker is a stand out success story.  He battled the left and rather than backing down under a barrage of negative press, which Republicans traditionally do, Walker stuck to his guns and won a pretty substantial victory. Compare that to Jeb Bush, who’s sat out the various political battles since the 1990’s and now expects to ride in on a golden, donor financed chariot to be crowned the nominee based on the divine right of Bushes.

The Republicans do have a deep bench, at least compared to the Democrats.  In fact the Democrat’s bench consists of one person, Hillary Clinton.  If she gets sick, the Dems are in trouble for 2016. But the Republican’s bench consists of establishment types that are anathema to the base of the party, like Jeb Bush, and social conservative types that are anathema to the establishment like Mike Huckabee. The converged area on the Venn diagram of candidates that both the base and establishment can live with is almost as limited as the Democrats presidential bench.

Walker’s major problem with the base is his immigration position.  Walker has tried to be cagey and hold every position on the issue at once.  He has both supported a path to citizenship and made vague comments about fixing the system.”  However the fixing doesn’t seem to include border security or a wall.  In other words, he’s a pro amnesty open borders type, which should please the establishment wing.  Although I would love to make amnesty a disqualifier, the fact is there are no, I mean zero commonly mentioned Republican potential 2016 candidates that oppose amnesty.

In any case if Walker does enter the race, he’ll have to quit being cagy about immigration and speak directly to the issue.

But immigration isn’t even his biggest problem yet.  When I made my prediction on Walker last year, it was based on the idea that the talking heads and establishment media wouldn’t pay any attention to Walker until at least the Iowa Caucuses. But the results of the Kansas straw poll show that plenty of other Republicans were thinking along the same lines as I was.  The media has rediscovered Walker this week and they will remember in short order that they despise him. Walker is like Sarah Palin and Allen West combined, with a little Tom DeLay sprinkled on top. It’s too bad he couldn’t have flown under the radar a while longer, but if there is one Republican who knows how to fight back, it’s Scott Walker.

 

Jeb Bush and the Path to Citizenship

Jeb Bush started his book tour this week to promote his new book, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution, with Clint Bolick, and immediately ran into a brick wall.  On Morning Joe, Jeb almost immediately walked back on one of the central premises of the book; that illegal immigrants would be allowed to become legal residents, but not US citizens.

“So going forward — we wrote this last year — going forward, if there is a difference, you can craft that in law where you can have a path to citizenship where there isn’t an incentive for people to come illegally, I’m for it… I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t see how you do it, but I’m not smart enough to figure out every aspect of a really complex law.”

In other words, Bush pulled the legs out from under his own book.  That was the quickest retreat from a book since former Bush Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill did a 60 Minutes interview promoting his book, which criticized the Bush administration; then went on the Today Show the very next day and backtracked on every single point from his book.

Jeb Bush has always been one of those open borders-let-every-illegal-in guys like his brother and most of the Republican establishment. So he’s always been in favor of a path to citizenship. So it was very odd that he came up with this book in which he supports merely legalization (like Newt Gingrich), rather than full citizenship.

Of course, the book was written last year, and what was the news about immigration last year?  It was the Republican primaries, and the guy with the toughest immigration policy, Mitt Romney, won the Republican primaries.  So it seems pretty obvious to me that Jeb was writing a book to appeal to Republican Primary voters.  My suspicion is that he never really switched positions, and that the purpose of the book was to present him as being in favor of a position to the right of what he actually expected to happen. By the time we get to the 2016 race, Immigration will more than likely be a done deal, and probably along the lines that Obama wants. No border security (to keep the illegal’s coming) and a path to citizenship. So Bush could claim to have opposed (using the book as proof) Obama’s plan, but hey, it’s already passed, Whatcha gonna do?

Jeb was the former governor of my State of Florida, so the man is no stranger, and as a governor, he was a very good governor; one of the better ones that Florida has had.  But as governor he had no control over Federal immigration policy.  As President (and this book seems to be step one for the 2016 race), no matter what he has written in his book, he would be as open borders / full citizenship on the issue as President Obama is.

In other words, he is totally untrustworthy on the issue of immigration.  No matter what he says, if he gets the chance, he’ll knock the fences down and shoot green cards over the border with T-Shirt cannon.