... at the end of the day Bushes always break the party.Noonan's command of the facts is a bit shaky. Poppy Bush's tax increase was enacted in November 1990 and didn't cause the recession, which had started in July. Moreover, it's not clear that either of the two Presidents Bush really "broke" the Republican Party as a whole: two years after Poppy's defeat, the Gingrichites took over Congress, and the same thing happened two years after W left office after the Tea Party election of 2010.
George H.W. Bush didn’t mean to but he did, in 1990, when he gambled that the economy would rise and its rise would justify his rescinding of his no-new-taxes pledge. Instead he got a recession. Thus was born Pat Buchanan’s candidacy for the presidency and what in retrospect was the first iteration of the tea party. Mr. Bush lost the election.
George W. Bush broke his party after his 2004 re-election, in part with his immigration proposals and the way he advanced them, with aides insulting his GOP opponents with insults -- “nativist,” they said -- and, in the end, by two unwon wars. Add the crash and the presidency was closed to the Republicans for at least eight years. Mr. Bush gambled that the wars would be victorious, that the party that loved him would march to the banner of an immigration agenda that did not take their legitimate anxieties into account. He left a party more broken, less a whole.
But what’s different about Jeb Bush is this: His father and brother surprised the base with their decisions after they had won the presidency. Jeb is declaring before he wins that he will take particular stands at odds with many in the base -- for comprehensive immigration reform, for the Common Core.
He said the other day he’s doing it because he has “a backbone.” That’s a strut, not an argument.
But Noonan has a point about the Bushes' penchant for alienating members of their own party. And Jeb seems to want to do it between now and the general election.
Thanks to his huge reservoir of fat-cat money and support, Jeb may win the nomination. (I've begun to think that GOP field is going to be an overstuffed clown car -- welcome, John Kasich! join the scrum! -- because a large field means that the big-money boys' preferred candidate will need to win fewer votes in early contests. If that's Jeb, it may not matter that hardly anyone likes him, because he won't need much support to finish first in Iowa or New Hampshire.) But if Jeb does win the nomination, he's going to be alienating the party long before November.
In the past, I've always assumed that angry wingnuts like Sarah Palin are just throwing all-talk-no-action hissyfits when they've threatened to bolt the party -- but this year I think a few crazy-base superstars (Palin, various talk-radio stars, maybe a loony congressman or two) really might publicly reject the GOP if Jeb's the candidate. Glenn Beck has already announced his departure from the GOP, for unrelated reasons -- I'm not sure that means much (he's always looking for something he can do to get attention, and he could be back in the fold by November, or next week for that matter), but it could be a harbinger.
Republicans are really frustrated right now. They thought they had President Obama on the ropes after the midterms. They expected this Congress to lay waste to his presidency. That's not happening, of course. They want a win. If not enough goes their way in D.C. and the plutocrats won't let them nominate a Democrat-bashing zealot, they're going to be very, very cranky. Jeb really might break the party before November.