John Ellis “Jeb” (just don’t say) Bush today finally announced that he’s a candidate for the Republican nomination for president. Surprise! No, this time for real! Not like that time last month he accidentally said he was running, no, this time he really, really means it!
Jeb Bush is 62, and on Inauguration Day he’ll be 63 years, 345 days old. This makes his age more or less average among Republican
Jeb (just don’t say) Bush delayed his announcement for months so he could raise more money for his super PAC, quite possibly violating federal election law by engaging in illegal coordination—not that you’d know much about that because the US TV news networks didn’t bother to cover that story. Bygones! Jeb—who apparently wants his last name to be an exclamation mark—is now really running.
Just don’t talk about the (Bush) wars.
The reason that Jeb (just don’t say) Bush wants to be just “Jeb!” is that, you know, his brother—kinda not popular. Started two wars, including an invasion based on lies. He tortured people. He spied on innocent Americans. He helped the rich at home. He divided Americans like they hadn’t been in decades. In short, he pretty generally screwed up the country. Yeah, if I were related to George Bush, I’d probably choose “!” as my last name, too.
But Jeb (just don’t say) Bush has plenty of his own problems. First, he hasn’t run for anything since 2002, which is a generation in political terms. Voters who turn 18 by election Day 2016 were four years old the last time Jeb (just don’t say) Bush ran for anything. He has to introduce himself beyond the puffed-up pundits to be taken seriously—he has to talk to all those people who ONLY know of him as another Bush.
For someone who’s supposed to be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, Jeb (just don’t say) Bush has been pretty awful so far.
Jeb (just don’t say) Bush is no moderate, despite what pundits like to suggest. He has a long anti-gay record (see also: “Jeb Bush's Worst Comments About Gay People”). Most recently, he’s embraced the newest cause célèbre of the radical right anti-gay industry, “religious freedom”, specifically arguing that people should be free to discriminate against LGBT people if they claim it was because of their supposed “religious freedom”. He also declared that he wants to bring the "Christian voice" to the White House, by which he means aggressively fundamentalist “Christian”, of course.
It even turns out that the man that Jeb (just don’t say) Bush said was his favourite author hates democracy and thinks that the ultra rich should seize power. And THAT is the person that Jeb (just don’t say) Bush says influenced him the most?! Sheesh!
When Jeb (just don’t say) Bush announced today, there were immigration protesters, and he “went off script” to sort of answer them. Vox, writing glowingly of the event, said, “The moment was remarkable… that it happened at all,” and went on to note that what he said was “actually similar to the tone he's taken with voters at campaign events who've come at him from the right on immigration.” Huh! Who’d have guessed that?!
I know that I’ve grown cynical after decades of shitty American politics, but come on! This was a fake, a set-up, a stunt. Campaign announcements are the most closely choreographed events there are, so it’s highly improbable that immigration rights protesters would get in, and very convenient that it allowed Jeb (just don’t say) Bush to repeat one of the few things he differs with the other Republican
And this gets to the second biggest of all the problems facing Jeb (just don’t say) Bush: He will say anything to get elected, and he will pander to anyone. I honestly don’t know what he actually believes, if anything, because he chops and changes so much, issuing a statement, walking it back, then saying something different again later on. It’s impossible to trust anything he says or does.
Obviously, Jeb!’s biggest problem is that he’s a Bush, something that’s a much bigger deal than the fact that Hillary is a Clinton. Jeb (just don’t say) Bush is the son and brother of US presidents, and three of them in less than 25 years is asking a lot of tolerance from American voters, especially when they booted the first one out after only one term and the second one left office pretty nearly universally disliked. The public’s largely forgotten about old man Bush, but George? The memory of his disastrous years in the White House is still too fresh, and too raw—and if it’s not, you can bet that should Jeb (just don’t say) Bush win his party’s nomination, every Democrat will remind voters that Jeb (just don’t say) Bush’s last name is NOT an exclamation point. With luck, though, maybe his ultimate defeat can be summed up by one.
There’s still 1 year, 4 months, and 24 days until the US presidential election.
Photo of Jeb Bush by Michael Vadon [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.