Read My Lips: No New Bushes (10 Reasons to Reject Jeb)
He has instant name recognition and his father or brother has been part of every winning Republican Presidential ticket since 1980. So, why aren't conservatives feeling the love for Jeb Bush?
The Old Car Smell
I first met Jeb Bush shortly after he was sworn in as Florida's 43rd Governor. He visited the high school where I was a Senior, and stopped by my history class. The year was 1999 in an era of beepers and dial-up internet.
He won re-election in 2002 and left office altogether in 2007. In November, 2014, President Obama predicted voters would want the "new car smell" in 2016 and, for once, he's probably right. Old (and I'm referring to experience, not age) and "electable" has lost to new and fresh in 2010, 2012, and once again in 2014. In presidential elections, it has been true in every year since Bill Clinton won in 1992.
There are only two policy issues of the ten items here and Common Core is one of them. It's a shame because as Governor he was a strong advocate for school choice, a voucher program, and reforming public education. But despite his best efforts to claim the standards are voluntary and state-based, it is so only by disguise. At a time when many conservatives would like to see the Department of Education disappear altogether, Jeb is moving in the other direction as implementation of the standards was tied to federal grants. But beyond being just bad policy, the push points to the reality that Jeb Bush is just another Big Government Conservative who believes in the power and influence of a powerful state over local governments.
Clinton > Bush
If voters from both parties wind up nominating 20th century namesake relics as their candidates, there is just one downside for Republicans: Voters like the way the Clinton years ended more than they liked the way either of the Bush presidencies ended. George H.W. Bush's tenure ended in defeat, while George W. Bush left as one of the least popular presidents ever. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton remains one of the most popular figures of the Democratic Party, and generally well-liked overall. For those voting on long memories and nostalgia it's advantage, Hillary.
George W. > Jeb
Not all Bushes are created equal. There was a bit of a down-to-earth vibe from George W. Bush and he came off as a generally likable fellow who liked to work on his ranch when he could. Presidential races are more about personality than policy these days. Jeb is, just, different. He plays the kind of politician who would rather hang out with the Chamber of Commerce than talk to regular voters. And maybe that's because he is the type of guy who has been doing that. He was mostly absent from the campaign trail in 2014, probably to avoid those unhappy with his support for...
Republican voters do not ask for much. Respect for the rule of law is one thing. Securing the border is another. Most Republican voters are willing to assess the illegal immigrant situation once the border flow stops. But Jeb has stuck with the sob-story mentality of the illegal immigration lobby and he has claimed that their crimes are but an "act of love." His attitudes on this issue, along with Common Core, unearths his tendency to be...
Condescending to Conservatives
"Get over Reagan" was the message of Jeb Bush back in 2009 when he advised Republicans to co-opt the Democratic way of doing things. He views the tea party rebellion of 2010 - which was really just conservatives no longer sitting quiet - as a momentary glitch. He doesn't seem to have much use for conservatives and has said as much recently, claiming he would be willing to lose the nomination to win the Presidency. I guess intentionally alienating the grassroots is an interesting strategy. Even Mitt Romney worked desperately to align with the beliefs of the party he was trying to represent.
Last Race: 2002
By the time 2016 rolls around it will have been 14 years since Jeb Bush last ran for political office. It is a much different world out there now and Jeb has not been a part of it. Republicans will be much more resistant to him now than they were to either his brothers candidacy for President or his own runs for Governor. And for the record, there was no resistance before.
Not a Pendulum Swinger
Jeb Bush is not really interested in swinging the pendulum of big government back to the right, and maybe not even to the center. He's a big business, Chamber of Commerce Republican which necessarily prevents him from being a major conservative reformer. He's more worried about what moderates think of him than pushing for conservative principals.
Follow the Money
Here, Jeb Bush has a Mitt Romney problem. Like Romney, he is more serious than likable, and the perceived lack of empathy has hurt Republican candidates in the past. Add on big-time financial dealings and you quickly are caricatured as out-of-touch. This is the type of news stories we really don't want to deal with again in 2016: Jeb Bush "is listed as chairman and manager of a new offshore private equity fund that raised $61 million... [that] can shield investors from having to pay U.S. taxes and regulations, much like the way tax havens operate." In 2008, it was McCain who couldn't count how many homes he owned. In 2012, Mitt Romney was dogged for he way he earned his money and the tax rates he paid.
Seriously, enough with the dynasties and political royalty. A Bush was part of a Presidential ticket in 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000, and 2004. Maybe they just like seeing their names on bumper stickers, who knows. But who among us really wants to re-litigate the George W. Bush years? Who wants to hope the third Bush era turns out better than the first two? Who wants to start with a candidate who immediately will start on the defense, defending policies that most Republicans disagree with?