Monday, March 04, 2013


I think Jeb Bush's flip-flop on immigration -- he used to support a path to citizenship for the undocumented, but now he says he doesn't -- reflects renewed confidence, on Jeb's part if not on the GOP's as a whole, that it'll still be possible to win a presidential election four years from now with just angry white guys, demographic trends be damned.

I think Jeb believes the Supreme Court will enable states and localities to find clever new ways to disenfranchise Democratic-base voters in 2014 and 2016; I think he thinks Republican austerity politics will be blamed on a Democratic president and seriously erode support for his party; and I think he thinks Republicans have enough money, and can hire enough brainiacs, to reverse-engineer the kind of sophisticated technology that the Obama campaign used last year.

Maybe this is naive on his part, but I wonder. I'm a huge skeptic about the notion that demography is consigning the present-day Republican Party to the dustbin of history. I also don't believe that the public even notices the party makeovers that mean so much to political insiders and mavens. The conventional wisdom is that Bill Clinton persuaded voters that his Democratic Party wasn't George McGovern's, a makeover Republicans need to emulate; I think the public just liked Clinton and was suffering Bush fatigue in an economic downtown downturn.

It did matter that the press had bought into the notion of a remade Democratic Party, because it meant Clinton received a fair amount of positive media coverage; Jeb (or Marco, or whoever) needs that for 2016, so the press needs to think the party has been remade somewhat. But I don't think the Republican candidate actually needs to do a whole lot of remaking. The public just needs to be tired of the Democrats and willing to see the Republican as acceptable.

So Jeb is betting that he doesn't need to alienate the crazy base to win. He may be right.


Victor said...

I never under-estimate two things, Steve:
- The gullibility of the American public to Republican POV's,
- And, their ability to swallow that BS like it was a rum-infused dessert.

And I'm not about to argue with Jeb Bush, that his isn't a winning argument.
Why would I?
The Republicans were able to sell his sociopathic brother, as a "Compassionate Conservative!"

Arguably, there we never a LESS 'compssionate" man, as President!

Jeb ain't a stupid idiot, like his brother, so, who knows - right?

Michael Gee said...

I think Jeb's last name means his interest in being President is purely theoretical. THAT'S a brand whose image cannot be remade.

aimai said...

I think all these guys believe that you say what you need to say in the moment, and either take it back or make something up later when you need to be saying something else. Right now Jeb! thinks it expedient (perhaps) to stick with the angry white male/anti immigrant vote. He isn't "counting" on one thing or another. He figures that the Supreme Court is going to do whatever the Supreme Court is going to do and by the time he needs Hispanic votes (post primary, in the general) he will just shift gears and start mouthing platitudes about how he'd like to help hispanics blah blah blah.

If the last election taught us anything its that the Republican party and its standard bearers have to tack hard right for the primary, and continue to believe you can make up for lost time in the general by just lying a lot about whatever positions you had to take.

debg said...

I think aimai has a great point. Even Daniel Larison, at The American Conservative, busted Romney for saying he didn't
Believe what he actually said about the 47%. That's not to say Republicans aren't also banking on the Supremes overturning VRA, but they really just seem to shape their message to whoever is in front of them at the time.

The New York Crank said...

I also agree with aimai. Taken as a whole, the American public has the collective memory of a granite rock.

Very crankily yours,
The New York Crank

Steve M. said...

So you all think his plan is to flip-flop-flip on citizenship?

Yeah, that kind of flexibility worked out so well for the GOP's last presidential nominee....

Ten Bears said...

Let's see: four (4) more years with Obama, plus eight (8) years of Jeb!, Chelsea will be old enough to fill the dynastic shoe.

The American public has a collective memory?

No fear...

Philo Vaihinger said...

So, Steve, your thought is the fall of Section 5 will enable GOP controlled states to exclude so many more Dems from the voting booth they won't have to worry about their shortfall among non-whites in 2016?

Steve M. said...

My thought is that it's going to be one element of a comeback strategy that combines all the new, inventive strategies they come up with when the Court turns the former Section 5 states into laboratories of vote-suppression ingenuity (and hell, if this Court threw the whole damn act out, on specious states' rights grounds, I wouldn't be surprised). That plus Voter ID plus Electoral College rejiggering plus getting technology right plus spending all that sweet, sweet Citizens United cash effectively plus having fewer bad-sound-generating primary-season debates ... yeah, I think we're naive if we think they can't possibly make it work.

NB said...

Kind of scary to contemplate just exactly how bought your next elections may become for your prediction to come true.

By the way, I think you meant downturn not downtown.

Steve M. said...

Typo fixed, at least. Thanks.