Sunday, October 25, 2015


I'm back, I'm jet-lagged, and I probably can't top what Yastreblyansky, Crank, and Tom posted here while I was gone. Thank you again, guys.

I've come back to discover that Jeb Bush is ... the new Hillary Clinton? She was the election's punching bag, the candidate who couldn't do anything right, but she had a fine debate, Kevin McCarthy said out loud what everyone knew about the politicization of the Benghazi committee but no one in the mainstream wanted to acknowledge, and now she's survived a day of questioning from that committee, Joe Biden's not running against her, and the fatal faceplant we're all waiting for is Jeb's.

Jeb thinks he knows what voters want to hear, and he gets it almost right, then he puts his foot in his mouth, yet it seems clear he's trying to convey an impression of himself that's exactly the opposite of how he actually comes off:
I’m not sure Jeb helped himself ... with some extremely revealing remarks he made at a rally in South Carolina. As tweeted by Jake Tapper, here’s what he said:
If this is an election about how we’re going to fight to get nothing done, I don’t want any part of it. I don’t want to be elected president to sit around and see gridlock just become so dominant that people are literally in decline in their lives. That is not my motivation. I’ve got a lot of really cool things I could do other than sit around being miserable, listening to people demonize me and me feeling compelled to demonize them. That is a joke. Elect Trump if you want that.
In the first part of that, Jeb is nearly there -- and yet he really isn't. If this is an election about how we’re going to fight to get nothing done, I don’t want any part of it: That's very similar to the rallying cry of the zealots -- but what they mean is: "We've got an extreme talk radio/Breitbart/RedState agenda and we're sick of seeing it fail to become law just because Establishment Republicans in power positions obsessed over some silly math that says we don't have enough votes to get what we want. We should get what we want anyway!" But what Jeb actually seem to be saying is: "We should work with Democrats to enact stuff." (I don't think he actually would, but never mind.) Jeb almost keeps it vague enough to fool his party's primary voters, and maybe this talk works in New Hampshire, where the primary voters are fairly moderate, but the wording just isn't vague enough. The zealots want no compromise, and they know compromise is what he's promising.

And then he completely loses it: I’ve got a lot of really cool things I could do other than sit around being miserable, listening to people demonize me and me feeling compelled to demonize them. That is a joke. Elect Trump if you want that. He's trying to make a point about trash talk not solving our problems, but he and every other conventional candidate in the GOP race should have figured out a month or two ago that their electorate wants to hear trash talk out of an enormous sense of frustration, earned or otherwise. (To some extent we're all frustrated, but GOP voters are frustrated because they think they should be able to get everything they want, even though they lost the last two presidential elections and don't have overwhelming congressional majorities.)

Beyond that, Jeb seems to be trying to make a very Bushy point about noblesse oblige and service to country. In any election cycle, this would have been a bad way to put it -- you can say you feel called to service and imply you have other options because of your privileged status, but you can't whine about it. Even Trump gets this right -- he's said he just felt the country was in a such a bad state he felt he had no choice but to run. This is always nonsense, but it can work if said right. Jeb says it all wrong.

Is Jeb going to drop out? I see he's trimming campaign costs, though he's denying that the campaign is in trouble. Me, I don't want him to go. I look at the national race and the races in Iowa and New Hampshire and assume that if Jeb drops out, Marco Rubio will get the vast majority of his voters and make it a real horse race with Trump and Carson. I don't want that. Rubio has an excellent chance of winning a general election against Hillary Clinton.

But I think Jeb will stay in and continue to fight Rubio, Cruz, Kasich, and Fiorina for third place, thus clearing the way for a two-man nomination fight between Carson and Trump. That makes me happy. The longer the others stay in, the more likely a much less electable Trump or Carson is to win the nomination.

I think Jeb will stay in because he's talking like this:
Addressing the concern that his campaign is falling apart, Bush responded, “Blah blah blah blah, that’s my answer, blah blah blah.” He further dismissed the idea by jokingly referring to the ‘presidencies’ of Herman Cain, Hillary Clinton, and Rudy Giuliani, candidates who led polls early in their respective campaigns only to fall behind by the primary election. “October is not when you elect people, it’s February, and then you move into March and we have a campaign that is designed to win,” said Bush.
He thinks he has "a campaign that is designed to win." I think he has the kind of campaign that could have won a primary race years ago, but not this year. But his failure to understand that will keep him in for a long while.

I also suspect it's something he has to plug away at in order to save face within his family. As The New York Times tells us today, Poppy Bush, 91 and wheelchair-bound, is obsessed with the race. He's the patriarch of a family that's famous for being fiercely competitive at trivial things, like horseshoes. Remember, Dad won a presidential race in 1988 after trailing by 17 points just after the Democratic convention. It's a quitters-never-win kind of family (though the persistence is usually accompanied by the employment of amoral attack dogs like Lee Atwater, Roger Ailes, and Karl Rove, an approach Jeb isn't taking yet).

So I don't think Jeb will drop out until he loses the Florida primary, and that's more than a dozen contests in. That's excellent news for Carson and Trump -- and, ultimately, for America.


Pops said...

Welcome back Steve. I want Jeb to stay in also. Just long enough to keep Rubio down. Rubio? I am sorry he can not beat Hillary. Even with his whining about tech and a new Generation. He was born 60 years old. Even all that Larry Ellison coaching cant teach him the difference between an ISP and LSD. Loser in the clutch.

Phil Freeman said...

"Rubio has an excellent chance of winning a general election against Hillary Clinton."

Really? How? Which states is Rubio going to flip? I'm genuinely interested in seeing some numerically sound predictions on this - because from where I sit, he's dead in the water. He's young, but he's as stupid as Scott Walker and, like Walker, routinely LOOKS stupid in public. Also, the Cuban thing is gonna hurt him. Nobody gives a shit about Cubans who wasn't already of voting age in 1959, and the majority of other Latinos HATE them because of the special treatment they've gotten re immigration for the last 50 years.

Yastreblyansky said...

You're very welcome.

Like Pops and Phil, and for the reasons they state, I don't think Rubio can win in the general--he's like the Tom Cruise character in Rain Man reading lines written for Mike Huckabee, with that trembling indignation but talking too fast, a ridiculous spectacle. And the Republicans' best reason for nominating him backfires, he will never get any votes from Puerto Ricans or Mexican Americans as he keeps doubling down against immigration out of fear, the way Romney doubled down against universal health care.

At the same time, he could be a good thing for the campaign in that his longing to be the wonky guy will give Clinton lots of opportunities to talk about policy. We actually could have a campaign about issues. No, that's too optimistic even for me.

retiredeng said...

I can imagine Jeb's mother saying: "I told you you're running for president and you're not going to stop now! Did you hear me?"

Ten Bears said...

You missed the best week evah... or maybe not.

This is what we've come to: Jeb? and Jeb? In a Dress! I don't know if I'm too busy shaking my head sadly to roll on the floor laughing my ass off or rolling on the floor laughing my ass off to shake my head sadly.

Steve M. said...

Which states is Rubio going to flip?

In August, Quinnipiac had Rubio beating Clinton in Florida by 12, In Pennsylvania by 7, and in Ohio by 2. In July, Quinnipiac had Rubio beating Clinton by 8 in Colorado, 8 in Iowa, and 2 in Virginia. Don't know if that's changed, but I think it's realistic to be concerned.

Redhand said...

@ Phil Freeman. I too have a very hard time taking dumb-as-a-post, big-gulp Rubio seriously, despite what Steve M says. I think the "smart money" is on Trump, America's very own Silvio Berlusconi.

As for Cubans, one of my most beloved immigration lawyer colleagues is Cuban-American, and the story of her family's immigrant Odyssey to America is one for the books. It's literally a case of one parent dying and the other reduced to menial labor, just to give their child a chance at a better life.

That said, you are spot on about how many other Latino immigrant groups can't stand Cubans because of the obnoxious sense of entitlement many of them display. I will never forget one of my first cases involving an NJ Cuban immigrant who was applying for green card, even though he had a criminal record. I told him that the issue was not free of doubt because of it. He snapped back at me, "Listen, you need to understand something. WE ARE CUBAN. I can pick up the phone and call Sen. Menendez…."

Two years later, after I had done a ton of work trying to force a very recalcitrant immigration service to decide the client's case, they came back with a denial claiming that, even though the client was not "deportable" because of the conviction, he was "inadmissible" because of it, without an extreme hardship waiver for his wife. (Don't even ask what the differences, it's immigration law "inside baseball.")

I had done the application on a steep discount because they were "poor," and even though there was a decent chance of a waiver they preferred to blame me for everything rather than hire me to pursue it. Not once did the client want to accept the slightest responsibility for the fact that maybe his own criminal conduct had something to do with the denial. After all, he was Cuban.

sdhays said...

In 2013, I considered Rubio the Republicans' presumptive nominee for 2016 and most potentially dangerous candidate. Then he got some time in the spotlight and he essentially melted before our eyes. I won't make that mistake again. I won't believe Rubio's a threat to anyone until I see him sustaining a leader's presence for several months. Right now, Jeb's taking all of the heat, so Rubio and Kasich are assumed to be ready if/when he falls. If Rubio gets his chance to be the establishment candidate, I just don't believe he has the competence or charisma to bring it to Trump (I'm really skeptical that Carson is anything but a spoiler - I think the biggest thing he'll accomplish is once again proving that Iowa is essentially a waste of time for "serious" Republican candidates because Republicans there are seriously "special"), especially in the time he will have (he won't get a chance until at least after New Hampshire). At that point, he'll have very little time and inadequate resources since the money won't have been flowing to him in sufficient numbers in 2015. A very smart, very savvy, very talented team could pull that off. I'll believe that Rubio can do that when I see it.

Ken_L said...

Jeb gives the impression of a man increasingly exasperated with the time it's taking for the servants to get rid of those uninvited people who gatecrashed his party.

Unknown said...

Jeb! hold on, just a little bit longer ...

You may be old but you're not Grand
And things have not gone on as planned
The party base thinks you're a bore
It sure ain't Jeb! who they adore

But as the bleachers start to empty
And consultants drift like smoke
After their complimentary champippy
Without a single backward peek
(They're always first in for a big payday
And first out as you go broke
Go ahead & bet your bippy
They'll find work within a week)
Hear us - one more time -

Oh please please Jebbo
Hold back the plug a little stronger
Like what you did with Terry Schiavo
We wanna watch you twist longer

Roger Ailes won't ever mind
[He's entertainment not news]
And Steve M sez he don't mind
[He could use the extra views]
If you take a bit more time
As we leave your ass behind
And chant - one more rhyme:

Oh won't you linger
As we pull out another finger
Please please please say
Say that you will
Til we've gotten our fill

trnc said...

" I think the biggest thing he'll accomplish is once again proving that Iowa is essentially a waste of time for "serious" Republican candidates because Republicans there are seriously "special")"
SD, got an intern around to blame for that comment? :-)

My problem with Rubio being taken seriously is that his push for "21st century tax policy" is the thing that's supposed to set him apart. How does it? Same old republican tax gimmicks with the exception of maybe a child tax credit that republicans used to support until recently.

As far as the idea of Jeb using the next Atwater/Ailes to climb out of his hole, he'd have to be able to afford them AND convince them that he's the only candidate who can do what they would want him to do. Bush Sr ran a fairly consistent campaign against a pretty flawed candidate, so I'm not sure his general campaign troubles compare to Jeb's primary troubles.

Anonymous said...

@trnc -

Bush Sr ran a fairly consistent campaign against a pretty flawed candidate, so I'm not sure his general campaign troubles compare to Jeb's primary troubles.

Atwater and Rove both get far more credit for their dirty tricks than they earned on their own. Bush the Elder was running as the vice-president of the most popular Republican president since Abe Lincoln (not a hard contest given the field, but still). He was running on carrying on Reagan's legacy. Michael Dukakis was not going to beat HW Bush unless Bush stumbled hard. It wasn't a race for Dukakis to win, it was a race for HW Bush to lose. And he didn't.

With Rove, his dirty tricks didn't do anything much at all to win 2000 for W. And that was another race where the vice-president of a fairly popular president was running. It should have been Gore's race to lose - Clinton was popular, the economy was doing fine - he shouldn't have lost it. And so I can see why people want to give Rove the credit for dirty tricks here. Except. Gore did NOT run as Clinton's vice-president. He explicitly did NOT run as being the guy who was going to continue what Clinton had done and explicitly did NOT try to tie into Clinton's popularity with the voters. Instead he ran away from Clinton personally and professionally - picking Lieberman as his running mate to distance himself from the scandals, and calling out all sorts of things that Clinton had done that he would have done differently. That is NOT how a sitting VP wins an election - that's how an outsider runs.

Gore let his personal distaste for Clinton get in the way of running an effective campaign. He blew it and gave Bush an opening to win it and Bush took it. Both Rove and Atwater were very good at self-promotion, but their contributions to the Bush Dynasty getting into power were minimal at best.