the buses left from K Street -- y'know, where all the lobbyists work? -- and Georgetown.
Cillizza admits that Jeb inspired walkouts, that Jeb got heckled, and that Sean Hannity was a surprisingly gentle to Jeb in their CPAC Q&A. (I don't think the mostly softball nature of the questions is a surprise at all -- Hannity may make a living stoking purist right-wing rage, but every four years the guy who signs Hannity's paychecks decides it's time to find some Republican who's electable and try to catapult him into the White House, even though Republicans struggle in presidential elections precisely because they first have to appeal to voters Fox has made into a hysterical mob. Murdoch and his henchman Roger Ailes don't even want to dial down the mob-goading long enough to fluff a presentable candidate properly, which is why Mitt Romney got a cold shoulder from Fox for much of the last campaign, but the folks at Fox think they want someone electable, so of course Hannity was nice to Jeb.)
Jeb is still for immigration reform. He's still for Common Core. As Martin and Maggie Haberman remind us in a separate Times article, Jeb supported giving driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants and allowing them to pay state college tuition at in-state rates, although he's repudiated those positions.
So he's not what Republican voters want. But the fact that the appearance wasn't a disaster is, to Cillizza, excellent news for Jeb Bush:
Good luck, smart organization and a solid performance in the face of adversity is what successful presidential campaigns are built on.Yeah, but somewhere along the line you have to have voters who actually like you, no? Without being bused in and being told to like you?
I know, I know -- it's not clear that Mitt Romney ever had any such voters (at least outside the Mormon community), and he came semi-close to becoming president. But he worked hard at saying what his base wanted to hear. Jeb isn't doing that.
Andy Kaufman used to go on stage at comedy clubs and test the audience: How annoying and anti-funny can I be up here and still make you feel you had an entertaining comedy experience? Can I make you laugh by not being funny at all? Sometimes that's what comes to mind for me when I watch Jeb Bush try to win the Republican nomination. His campaign is some sort of anti-politics performance art.
But Cillizza's point, I think, is that you can buy a win. Maybe you can't have rent-a-voters the way you can have rent-a-crowds at CPAC (well, actually you can in caucus states, I guess), but you can spend so much money on advertising that voters will think they want to vote for you.
Cillizza will admire Jeb if he can pull this off. He'll probably compare Jeb to Hillary Clinton -- hey, the only reason she won all those votes in the primaries is that most Democratic voters actually supported her! That's much less impressive than winning the primaries in a party consisting mostly of people who hate you!
I can really see that as a common mainstream-media message going into the fall: Jeb won even though his party despises him! Jeb won because people in smoke-filled back rooms thought he was the best candidate and because Hannity and his fellow wingnut bloviators listened to their bosses and took a dive for him! That's more impressive than Hillary's actual popularity! So vote Jeb in November!