Jeb Bush is in.
The smarter Bush brother — which is like being the most compassionate Cheney — was savvy enough to win two terms as Florida’s governor. He also did more than his share to help his little bro George W. “win” his first presidential election. And now the former Lehman Brothers executive has decided to “actively explore” his own bid for the White House.
Earlier this year, I pointed out that more net jobs had been created under President Obama than both presidents named Bush combined, in less than half the time. Soon, if job growth continues as the pace that made 2014 the best year of job creation this century, net job growth under Obama will double both Bushes. But it’s unlikely the net totals of all three men will ever match the job creation we saw under Bill Clinton.
Here’s how the net jobs gained numbers break down, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis:
Barack Obama – 6,770,000
George W. Bush – 1,282,000
Bill Clinton – 22,647,000
George H.W. Bush – 2,637,000
And if you don’t give W. credit for jobs created by the government, the economy actually lost 462,000 jobs during his tenure.
Why do I point this out? Because it’s pretty hilarious. Also, it shows the weight of Jeb Bush’s negative baggage going into the the 2016 election. But he also has some positive baggage.
“What we can say is that if he were Jeb Smith, a former two-term governor of Florida who has been out of politics since leaving office in 2007, and who has unorthodox positions in more than one policy area, he would be viewed as a longshot,” Bloomberg View’s Jonathan Bernstein wrote. “But something about the Bush family just makes a certain breed of Republicans go all weak at the knees, and has ever since Jeb’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a senator and a possible vice-president.”
Has the bloom fallen off the Bush after W.?
Conservatives still love the torture and warmongering aspects of Shrub’s failed presidency. But 43’s profligate spending and willingness to plug the gaps he let form in the economy with a trillion dollars of taxpayer money aren’t as popular.
And Jeb has his own problems with the base. He’s the political figure most singularly identified with Common Core, which many conservatives call “Obamacare for education.” He is also on the board of the Bloomberg Foundation. And while Michael Bloomberg enjoys helping elect some anti-worker Republicans, he also believes in climate change and gun safety legislation.
Bush’s biggest immediate problem is that he says he doesn’t want to blow his general election prospects in the primary, the way he seems to feel Mitt Romney did.
The New Republic‘s Brian Beutler feels President Obama’s executive action on immigration will make Jeb’s plan to present actual solutions impossible.
“…Bush will have to promise not just to end it, but to replace the executive actions—which he called ‘extraconstitutional’—with a more legitimate legislative scheme,” Beutler wrote. “It’s not a replacement, though, if it doesn’t create a legal status for the people who will benefit from Obama’s deferred action plan. And if he pledges to create such a status, the right will abandon him.”
But we might as well expect that Jeb will be the nominee and here’s why.
Together Bush, Mitt Romney and Chris Christie earn 42 percent of the vote in the latest McClatchy-Marist Poll. That 40-some percent is the “we just want to win” caucus and it’s large enough to pick the party’s nominee. In fact, the establishment’s safe candidate has won the GOP nomination every four years since Barry Goldwater raged against the machine and lost in a massive landslide.
Another 3 percent support Governor Scott Walker and Paul Ryan each — two candidates who ride the line between Tea Party and Establishment. That leaves 54 percent of the party who could unite around a Tea Party candidate. But it won’t.
Conservatives are already organizing around the principle of stopping Bush. But unless they can unite behind one candidate, we’ll see a repeat of 2012 — with assorted Not Romney’s fizzing up and exploding. And this time it will be even easier for an establishment candidate to wrap up the nomination, thanks to changes to the process implemented by Romney’s team in 2012.
It should all come down to Florida, and Jeb has shown he knows how to win there, no matter who gets more votes.
Perhaps conservatives will get their act together or Jeb will have a Rick Perry like meltdown. But at this point, we should expect Jeb Bush to continue his family’s history of getting worse at being president. Hopefully, our memories will be fresh enough to avoid another disaster for our economy and the world.