Saturday, October 3, 2015

Stuff Happens

After nine people were murdered in yet another mass shooting, Jeb Bush shrugged it off - "stuff happens" he said - and when that "stuff" happens, apparently, the last thing you do is try to figure out how to make sure less of it happens in the future. Bush's offensive remarks were also exposed as foolish - he mentioned that if a child dies in a pool, the inclination may be to require that fences be built around them, but that might not be the best idea - ignoring the fact that the state of Florida passed such a law when he was Governor

Of course, this was just the latest in a series of foot-in-mouth moments for Jeb. Whether it was his four day fumble over whether the country should have invaded Iraq, his loose use of the term "anchor babies" (clarified the next day to claim he was speaking of Asian-Americans?!), or his suggestion that his brother "kept us safe" (well sure, if you ignore the whole 9/11 thing), it is a good thing Jeb has a Greek chorus of journalists swooping in to defend him or put "context" around his musings:

The media's focus on Trump's rise and Hillary's email has papered over two simple facts - (1) Jeb Bush is not a very good candidate and (2) the more Republican primary voters hear and see him, the less they like him. Bush's polling has sagged the longer this campaign has gone and just dropped to 4% in the latest national Pew poll. Bush has also fallen well back of the contenders in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire but it was not until this past week that the idea Bush is in trouble seeped into the mainstream media with a piece in The Washington Post, even though his swoon has been going on for weeks. 

And it may be that the conventional wisdom is true - that a $120 million war chest can be deployed to pump up Bush's flagging campaign, but the lay of the land does not look promising - Bush is a poor fit for Iowa and its social/religious conservative voters, who have handed people like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum their caucus votes and New Hampshire has been exquisitely anti-Bush since 1992, when Pat Buchanan took 37% of the vote against President George H.W. Bush and then in 2000 when John McCain thumped then-Governor George W. Bush by 17 points. The March 1st "SEC Primary" is steeped in more southern states unfriendly to Bush (he's behind Rubio and Trump in his adopted home state of Florida) and by then, the jig may be up.

No one is more surprised than me. After all, I had Bush as the 2016 GOP nominee way back in October 2011, more than a year before Obama crushed Romney. But what I, and I think many in the media missed is how hard right the GOP primary electorate has become. Most polls show the support of three candidates with no prior political experience totaling close to if not more than 50% of the vote. While pundits like to trot out Romney's struggles in 2012 as a potential caution against writing off Bush, Romney never sank so low in the polls and never lost sight of the front-runner even as that seat was rotating among lightweights like Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann. 

No, Bush has gotten a pass for so long simply because of his last name and the media's expectation that history will repeat itself - that Republicans "fall in line" at the end of the day and go for the name brand. But what if this time is different? After all, stuff happens.

Follow me on Twitter - @scarylawyerguy 

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