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The Daily Fray

Should Jeb Bush Be Running for President in 2012?

February 7, 2011

Riffing on a National Review cover story touting the credentials of Jeb Bush, Rich Lowry explains why the brother of the ex-decider needs to run for office--specifically, in 2012. The reasons he lists (eight, in total) assess Jeb's timing ("2016 is too late"), competition (Jeb vs. a "beatable incumbent president with a wide-open field"), and strategy (he's "different" from his father and brother, will be "taken on his own terms"). Lowry's reasoning has generated plenty of debate and skepticism, and most pundits have zeroed in on the elephant in the room for a Jeb candidacy: what should he do about W?

  • Must Address Concerns About His Brother 'Head-On' blogs The Economist's E.G., who suspects that Jeb may have to give an Obama-style speech about George W. if he were to run successfully: "We could really use a public reckoning from the Bushes about their role in American life. Neither of the Georges is much given to candour, H.W. because of his WASP-y reserve and W. because he's not a pontificator. This job would fall to Jeb. Not to be overly glib, but it might be the equivalent of Barack Obama's campaign speech on race. A painful but important discussion that could help us along the path to national healing."
  • If He's Waiting To Rehabilitate the Bush Name, Why Is 2016 Too Late?  Alana Goodman at Commentary magazine gives an additional reason why Jeb Bush needs to run in 2012: "Without a position in public office, Jeb will have a hard time keeping himself on the national radar. Even if he’s unable to win the 2012 nomination, he can still maintain some prominence while giving voters a chance to become familiar with him and his issues. Then, if Obama wins re-election, Jeb will be in a prime position to run again four years later."
  • 'Problem Isn't the Name, It's Loyalty To His Brother' writes John Tabin at the American Spectator about the nascent "Draft Jeb" movement: "He pointedly and explicitly declined to criticize anything about the George W. Bush presidency in that NRI speech. 'Compassionate conservatism' is decidely out of fashion these days; Republican primary voters are going to want to hear candidates distance themselves from the fiscal profligacy of the Bush years. It's not clear that Jeb Bush would be willing to do that."
  • Candidacy Shouldn't Be Dismissed, But It's a 'Tough Sell,' figures Washington Monthly's Steve Benen, who suspects "we'll soon see a 'Run, Jeb, Run' boomlet." But after noting that Jeb does "bring quite a bit to the table," he concludes that "the unmitigated trainwreck of George W. Bush's presidency hasn't been forgotten that quickly--the stench of failure surrounding that name won't fade too quickly-- nd while Jeb's style is distinct from his brother's, I suspect a fairly significant chunk of the population would respond to another Bush candidacy by asking, 'Hasn't that family done enough damage already?'"
  • Honestly: Is the Country Ready For President Bush, Part III? wonders Jay Bookman at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Personally, I think the Bush boomlet says as much about the current crop of GOP candidates as about Jeb himself," Bookman writes. "The truth is, Jeb Bush by any other name would probably be a major contender both for the nomination and the presidency. But unfortunately, for him and perhaps the country, fate cast him as Esau to his little brother’s Jacob."
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