Four Questions for Jeb Bush

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117 Responses

  1. Avatar Kim says:

    Breaking the law for a political campaign is a really, really stupid thing to do.
    Let alone putting your constituents in harms way, because you can’t be bothered to hire a lawyer that knows Florida law.

    I don’t expect Jeb to know the laws he was in charge of administering, but releasing thousands of people’s social security numbers to the Internet is in blatant violation of the law, and he really ought to have known better.Report

  2. Avatar Damon says:

    Bush / Clinton

    Please no. I will not vote for either out of principle. Please just go away.Report

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    Rubio is the stud? He went in for immigration reform and his numbers tanked faster then…ummm….something that goes down really precipitously.Report

  4. Avatar North says:

    I’d like to note to my fellow commenters that Scotto’s post is written specifically from a GOP-conservative viewpoint/tone which is valuable in of itself here so be kind on that angle.

    That said, some scattered thoughts:
    Agreed emphatically on the Bush/Clinton parallel, if the GOP nominates Bush then all arguments against Clinton in the dynasty, old vs new and the like fly out the window. I think that’s probably one of the most potent arguments one has against Jeb.

    I’m struck again by W’s favorability ratings. If, in the glow of nostalgia, after being near a decade removed from power your favorability’s can’t breach fifty percent that’s a sign of an epically failed Presidency. And that is, as Scotto notes, before the Democratic message/attack machine gets to work on the subject and starts dredging up memories. There’s a reason as an HRC fan that I keep wanting to tent my fingers, twirl my moustache and say “Yes, yessss, nominate Jeb…” and I think that’s the biggest one. Good luck separating the one brother from the other in the electorates mind short of Jeb bringing W up on stage and beaning him in the face with a pie.

    Also doesn’t Rubio have his own heresies that he has to explain away? Immigration is a hopping up and down GOP issue right now and Rubio went pretty far off the reservation before he finally reversed course. GOP base voters are notoriously unforgiving until you get the nod.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to North says:

      Well, I rather like the idea of a Republican candidate who has heresies he doesn’t explain away. One McCain’s bigger mistakes was running away from his campaign finance reform platform. One of Romney’s bigger mistakes was flip-flopping on abortion. Seems to me a Republican can say to his own party, “Yes, I am a conservative, I am one of you,” and simultaneously say to the rest of the country, “I am my own man, see here where I do not agree with most of my fellow Republicans,” and that’s going to be a pretty good play. Rabid talking heads on cable news aside, I suspect most Republicans will realize that someone they agree with on 90% of things but disagree with on one thing is a way better choice (for them) than a Democrat.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Burt Likko says:

        It’s a good play for the general; it’s a losing play for the primary.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Burt Likko says:

        I think the risks are overstated, though. Romney could have done a lot more than he did and won the primary. He just didn’t do it.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Burt Likko says:

        It’s hard to say Will. Romneybot played it the way he did and the clown brigade still nipped his heels all the way to the nomination. If he’d gone too far off the reservation I could see a genuine voter insurrection knocking him off his perch.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Burt Likko says:

        My view is that there was nobody for them to revolt to. And that, if there had been, Romney probably would have lost no matter what he’d done.

        That’s the important thing about Jeb Bush, to me. If he doesn’t sell himself like Romney and McCain did, and he wins the nomination anyway over the myriad of base objections… the base as we know it is dead, as far as presidential races go.

        I have been mulling over a post explaining that this dynamic could make this the most important Republican primary since 1980… maybe 1964.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Burt Likko says:

        I think you should make such a post Will, it’d be interesting to see that thought out in detail.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to North says:

      I cosign with @north here on the value of this perspective. I’ll confess that my initial response was to be a bit surprised but as I read a thoughtful, cogent, well-reasoned analysis of Jeb and the Republican field written by an obviously intelligent, thoughtul individual, I knew I had to temper that response and really give myself the opportuntity to learn.

      So, agree or disagree (and, frankly, I don’t know where I stand), I definitively gained from Mr, Scotto’s piece. Much appreciation for that and hopefully more of that to come.Report

    • Avatar A Compromised Immune System in reply to North says:

      I suspect Bush the 2nd will never see ratings over 50%. He’s destined to go down much like his spiritual predecessor Calvin Coolidge for overseeing a gilded boom that turned into the worst bust in several generations.Report

  5. Avatar morat20 says:

    Randomly, I think I recall some sort of scandals surrounding Jeb Bush from back in the day (late 90s). Maybe “scandal” is the wrong word — less what he did, more whom he was doing business with — and what they had done.

    My memory is really fuzzy, but I think there was a reason Dubya was the Bush who got a shot at the gold ring in 2000 and not Jeb.

    Maybe I’m confusing Florida’s current governor with Jeb though (I think the current guy actually got convicted of Medicare fraud. Well, his company did). But I could *swear* there was some nasty business issues associated with Jeb in the late 90s.

    If he’s going for prime time, I can’t see them staying down the memory hole.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to morat20 says:

      GWB was the Bush in 2000 because he won in 1994 and Jeb lost. I think it mostly comes down to that.Report

      • Aye. GWB effectively started putting his campaign together by the summer of 1998, and IIRC was already starting to put out feelers by late ’97. I distinctly remember reading an article in one of the Capitol Hill papers when I was interning there in ’98 discussing how various big players were effectively making pilgrimages to Crawford to pledge their support to GWB.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to morat20 says:

      Jeb’s (official) post-gubernatorial career has been a lot of policy wonkery in areas he could have been expected to have gained subject matter expertise as Governor, and investment banking with Lehman Brothers through which he’s gained several corporate directorships and consultancies.

      While I wouldn’t diminish his effectiveness as Governor of Florida, and I realize it’s fashionable to discount the importance of experience when selecting a President, it’s worth noting that he’s not held public office for eight years now. I still wonder at why he backed Rubio for Senate in 2010 instead of running for the seat himself; clearly he didn’t want it despite having it within his apparent grasp; I can only find vague reasons as to why.Report

      • When Jeb left the governor’s office, he made no secret that his future plans included “make lots of money.” His speaking fee is reportedly $50K per, and he’s had no trouble finding organizations willing to pay it. Estimates are that his total income since he left office has been ~$10M. Most of that doesn’t happen if he turns around runs for the Senate.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

        What, he needed the money?

        I guess how the Bushes and Prescotts pass along their generational wealth is none of our business (except when one of them runs for public office and has to make disclosures) and it’s good that Jeb didn’t want to sit on his duff and be a member of the Idle Rich.

        Point being, he comes from money. Had lots of it before entering public service. His post-gubernatorial career need not be driven by mercenary concerns but rather based on what interests him. Enlargement of his share of the family fortune would take care of itself.Report

      • When he left office at the beginning of 2008, his net worth statement said $1.3M, compared to the $2.0M he had when he was first elected. Jeb and I are within a year of each other in age; at the beginning of 2008, my net worth was in that same ballpark. My goal was to grow the capital untouched for a bit longer, then my wife and I would live a modest retirement in our modest house, with perhaps an occasional consulting gig to augment the income. Jeb clearly had much grander goals. One of the questions that Daniel didn’t ask, but that might become relevant depending on what the facts are, is “Why should we trust your decision-making, given some of the rather sketchy business ventures you chose to associate with over the last several years?”Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to morat20 says:

      From what i remember Jeb was involved with a lot of business types who ran into trouble with the law which tars him a bit, but i dont’ think he was ever directly implicated.Report

  6. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    As a liberal, I am largely unconvinced by the idea that the GOP keeps losing Presidential elections because of choosing moderates like Romney or potentially Jeb Bush (who I really don’t see as moderate)* over more ideologically conservative politicians. The demographics of this country are changing and socially the GOP as no answer for it yet or might not have at all. There are plenty of safe-red districts and states that can elect hardcore conservatives like Michelle Bachmann or others from the Just Say No category but the demographics of these districts tends to make them much older and much whiter than the rest of the United States.

    I am equally unconvinced that people will become more conservative as they gain more capital and wealth. There have been a series of articles and studies that shows for the most part, people get their politics sometime in their 20s and stick with it. The whole “liberal when young, conservative when old” is largely a myth. If anything, people seem to get more hardened. The moderate Democrat becomes a radical. The moderate Republican becomes an outright reactionary.

    Though I do wonder if a Bush/Clinton race would just be too much apathy for everyone. There are lots of Democrats in the anyone but Clinton camp but this is a bit of an extreme statement. They will be more likely to be fired up by a Walker or Cruz nomination than a Jeb Bush nomination. Fire breathers stir up both bases, not just their own.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      A Republican Presidential nominee that could really fire up GOP voters could win if campaigning against a Democratic nominee that many Democratic voters were lukewarm about at best. Clinton has some big fans like North but many Democratic voters are apathetic or hostile towards here. She is seen as being too much of a centrist DLC type rather than a progressive. What the Democratic base seems clamoring right now if for a progressive and an open one at that.

      Its not so much about getting people to vote for you but really giving passion and getting your base riled up and hoping the same thing isn’t happening on the other side. Republicans do have a demographic problem though. The country is getting more accepting and socially liberal on many issues like LGBT rights or sexual assault on campus. The GOP base, the ones that pick who gets to be the Presidential nominee are not. Its going to require a bit of squaring the circle many times.Report

      • Avatar Scott F. in reply to LeeEsq says:

        An electorate that votes in a Republican president will pretty much assure that the Senate and House remain in GOP control as well. 3 of the nine Supreme Court Justices will be north of 80 by the date of the next POTUS inauguration.

        I don’t think riling up the base will be a problem for the Democrats. And reservations about HRC will fade as she is contrasted with even the most “moderate” Republican who could survive their primaries.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Hell, even my support of NRC is 50% spite against the GOP having to face them in the White House again rather than any deep affection for Hillary herself.Report

  7. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    First and foremost: this is an awesome contribution and we’re very grateful for it, Dan. Thank you!

    On to the substance.

    Don’t you think John Kasich is better positioned to make a run at the center than Jeb Bush? More experience, a substantial record of conservatism with counterpoints of substantial scrapes against the Republican CW (e.g., assault weapon ban, PPACA medicaid expansion). Perhaps not as photogenic as Bush or Walker, but then again he’s an older man. Been mentioned as Presidential material since 1996 when he was Bob Dole’s second choice for running mate. Can appear wise and prudent where the younger candidates like Walker, Cruz, or Rubio will appear impetuous.

    There’s always noise about whether a “moderate” can win Republican primaries; but I note that Mitt Romney was not the right wing’s darling candidate in 2012 and John McCain was not the right wing’s darling in 2008. The party as a whole seems to still pick the most electable contender. If Bush is positioned to be the guy who can bridge right and center, Kasich seems to be the guy who can actually reach out to the center with a degree of credibility.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Burt Likko says:

      “There’s always noise about whether a “moderate” can win Republican primaries; but I note that Mitt Romney was not the right wing’s darling candidate in 2012 and John McCain was not the right wing’s darling in 2008.”

      IMHO, the nomination is Bush’s to lose, and he’ll have a lot of margin to play with – around a half-billion or more. He’s the Money Boyz pick, will have 2-3 (to 5?) times more money than all of the others put together.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Barry says:

        I almost never felt like Mitt would lose the nomination, but I think Jeb’s chances are around 50/50.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Barry says:

        I live in Colorado Springs and I’m surrounded by Republicans and I don’t know a single one who says “Man, I hope Bush gets the nomination!”

        This guy like Cruz, that guy hopes Huckabee starts running, this other guy thinks that Paul is the bomb… but I don’t know *ANYBODY* who says “Bush!”

        I’m sure they’ll fall in line at the end of the day… but, at this point in the day? They all like somebody else.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Barry says:

        I agree with Will. 2012 was R-money’s to lose because the not-Romney train was a collection of clown car candidates, except for Tim Pawlenty, who jetted early, and Rick Perry, who botched his roll out and subsequent damage control and made an irrecoverable mess of it.

        Walker, Paul, and yes, even Ted Cruz, are not clown car candidates and are very credible not-Bushes. They may though faction up the voting (and Walker & Cruz straight up splitting the conservative base) to give Jeb a punchers chance.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Barry says:


        I’d vote for Paul Walker.Report

    • Yes, thank you, Dan. Lots to think about here.

      Looking at the county-level maps during the 2012 primaries, before everyone but Romney and Paul had dropped out, one thing jumps out — Romney won pretty much every urban area and its inner-ring suburbs, and lost the rural areas. Most often to the social conservative du jour. Lots of headlines in those days that said “X Wins in State Y” with a subhead of “Romney Increases Delegate Lead”.

      Dennis Sanders occasionally asks the excellent question, “Why does my party hate cities?” Clearly, Romney didn’t. At this point, Jeb seems to me to be the only one who’s got a chance of being “the urban candidate”. He’s got finance-sector experience now, and he came from the proper end of Florida (Florida seems to be increasingly North Florida and South Florida.Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Paul is big in my area, though there is frustration that his father dropped out. Cruz doesn’t have the same traction, his quasi slick personality lands between Bill Clinton and Johnson.Report

      • The town out west where I substitute taught was a bit of an odd bird. Democratic to the core – Mondale won it by 25 points – and yet during the 2012 election it was end-to-end Ron Paul signs. (Obama ended up winning the county by by 30 points.)Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Michael Cain says:

        were those the racist folk, or the libertarian folk?Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Michael Cain says:


        The old joke about Florida is “The more North you go, the more South you get….”

        Southern Florida seems to be urban, Democratic (Hispanic and Jewish voters dominate), minority based, and in certain sections, an extension of New York because of retirees.Report

    • Avatar A Compromised Immune System in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Kasich won’t make it past the 2nd round of the primaries.Report

  8. Avatar Barry says:

    “The thought of Bush/Clinton 2016 leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. A replay of 1992? The country’s two most entrenched political families duking it out? The small-r republican’s blood boils at the thought.”

    Let’s see:

    Family A – first generation politicians, one person held the Presidency. Origins were middle/lower class.

    Family B – third? Fourth? generation political family. Father and brother held the Presidency (the latter helped in by another brother); at least one senator up the family tree, which is New England aristocracy. Fun XKCD fact – the last time the GOP won the Presidency without a Bush or Nixon on the list was 1928.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Barry says:

      Yeah, well, the Clinton-supporting staffers of Dole didn’t exactly help the record.
      Dole was literally blackballed by Barbara and company.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Barry says:

      That’s not entirely fair: none of Richard Nixon’s family — wife, sibliings, kids — has ever run for significant public office, to my knowledge. There is no Nixon dynasty the way there is a Bush dynasty. Nixon was just preternaturally good at politics.

      Also so far, no noises from Chelsea Clinton (Ph.D.!) about public service. May not be a dynasty so much as a married couple of similarly-wired people not unlike Bob and Elizabeth Dole or Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.Report

  9. Avatar Patrick says:

    But if you’re on the Right, on record alone, Jeb looks an awful lot like President Obama: a politician with clear ideological preferences who is able to sell those positions as common-sense or moderate. One key indicator: media portrayals. The media declared Obama a “centrist” alternative to Hillary Clinton back in 2006. Jeb is now the “moderate former Florida governor.” Both portrayals are inaccurate, full stop, but there is some broad benefit to being seen as a centrist.

    This is an interesting framing. I’d like to see a broader discussion of this, because we don’t get many conservative-leaning contributions to the blog any more!

    I look at Obama and I see a politician with ideological preferences that he’s largely suspended in a practical attempt to get things done… very much like what I would have expected Romney to do if Romney got elected instead of Obama. One was a center-left technocrat (in practice) and the other was a center-right technocrat (again, in practice). Their ideologies are both at best marginal influences.

    The idea that there’s some sort of ideology involved in either case is only marginally interesting (to me), because I don’t see most of the ideology coloring the actual practice. I will explain:

    PPACA, for example, was largely a technocrat’s approach to manipulating a market to get an outcome. The outcome was ideological, but if ideology was a major driving force behind Obama the result would have been quite different. The idea that PPACA was designed to drive everyone to a public option twenty years from now is just not borne out by the way the thing works… if that was the plan, it’s a terrible implementation because it’s too easy to prop the thing up using pro-centrist “bipartisan agreements” in the short term, ten years from now.

    I see practical centrism in numerous other policy decisions: Holder’s imposition of (largely cosmetic) punitive measures for the financial crisis, rather than criminal ones, the lack of political capital spent on immigration reform, the entire backing away from the national security state, the largely pro-military-at-the-expense-of-other-discretionary-spending budget decisions, etc. Even the foreign policy of the administration is driven far more (IMO) by practically limiting the stress on the military than a decided preference against non-interventionism. Which is exactly what Romney would be doing right now if he won himself, because regardless of what TPNN thinks about the Middle East, the dead reality of it is that a military solution to the quandaries in the Middle East is Afghanistan taken to 11… a thirty year campaign of occupation and nation-building that nobody in the country would have a stomach to tolerate.

    Conservatives keep telling me that Obama is a radical socialist, but all this shows me is that conservatives don’t know what even a moderately liberal liberal looks like, in ideology let alone preference.

    Now I look at Jeb and I see largely the same thing through a mirror.

    Ferguson highlights a few of Jeb’s accomplishments: large-scale privatization of public services, big budget surpluses, a AAA bond rating, a major shift in favor of abortion restrictions, and relaxed gun laws.

    The first accomplishment is as much a neoliberal response to problems now as it is a conservative one. About the only public service that isn’t impacted by large-scale privatization now, nationwide, is public school education, and the states that have pushed charter schools are not reliably in the “red” or “blue” column, so public schooling is the exception not the rule. California has a budget surplus, and it socked it away rather than spend it, and I don’t know that anyone would characterize Jerry Brown as “like Jeb Bush”.

    So the only two things on the list that seem “conservative” to me are abortion restrictions and expansion of gun rights. The first is a non-starter in national discourse and the second is a fight that Democrats largely stopped fighting when the Assault Weapon Bill expired in the mid-90s, even if liberals have been shouting from the sidelines of the party.

    I know the NRA thinks it’s been under constant assault since Bill Clinton was in office but we haven’t seen national gun legislation (or even a major piece of state-level firearms regulation) since 1995 and all of the court victories since then have gone the other way, leading to a fairly broad *increase* in gun rights in the last twenty years, nation-wide.

    Really, if a combination of Stand-Your-Ground and Open Carry gun laws and labyrinthine barriers to abortion access are all that separate the “largely conservative” Jeb Bush from Jerry Brown, it’s unclear to me what stick we’re using to measure “largely conservative” from “conservative” or “center-right”.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Patrick says:

      Fantastic comment, @patrick

      On environmental there are a major policy differences.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to zic says:

        There may be major ideological differences on environmental issues, but I haven’t seen a change in environmental or energy law that actual ecologically-conscious liberals would consider a major step in the right direction in twenty years, either.

        Delaying the Keystone XL pipeline is at best ecologically neutral (given that we’re still pumping the oil, transporting the oil, refining the oil, and using the oil) and it’s economically arguably a draw; or rather, a case of picking winners and losers in the liquid transportation industry. I mean, I know the Sierra Club publicly likes the Obama’s halfhearted effort at killing Keystone, but the response to the Deep Water incident is textbook business-as-usual. Even the so-called “moratorium” on deep water oil licensing is largely a case of “we’re not handing out licenses that the oil industry isn’t asking for anyway”.

        We’re still mining all kinds of coal, and even if we aren’t burning it here we’re exporting a ton of it to China. “The Obama Administration’s War on Coal” plays well in Kentucky and West Virginia, but that’s because open-pit mining is still legal in places like Wyoming and the low-hanging fruit has already been picked in the Appalachians. “The country shipped out 114.2 million tons in 2012, more than triple the level a decade earlier. Coal-export revenue meanwhile jumped to $14.8 billion from $1.6 billion.”

        That’s not a dying industry “under attack by Eco-conscious tree-hugging liberals”. That’s the international market in coal production eating West Virginia’s lunch, just like the international market in most base goods has been eating all blue collar lunches in the U.S.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        I don’t think it’s for lack of Obama trying; however; Solyndra-Response Syndrome wasn’t part of any Democratic plan for a greener future. And I voted for Gore. As I recall, more people did, actually. We didn’t get Gore because of weird shenanigans in FL and Katherine Harris and vote-role purges and hanging chads and the Supreme Court; while Jeb was governor. Governor of the state at sea level where civil servants are banned from mentioning climate change and rising sea levels.

        Please forgive my snark; but I still think FL 2000 was a failure of democracy; the voter-role purges being what troubles me.

        So voting rights would be another difference between Jeb the Moderate Conservative and Obama the Moderate Conservative score cards.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        I should add: I recall Jeb getting credit for cleaning up the electoral system in FL a bit; that’s a history I’ld like to know more about; I might view it as a strength if he actually tried to address the problem. And I know there have been issues since, so I’d want to know what he learned and how recidivism of voting rights in FL now, despite his efforts, would shape his policy nationally.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

        yet, somehow nobody went to jail for that campaign. 2004 otoh…Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

        Come sit over here if you haven’t seen ONE.
        Those mercury regs are gonna do a HELL of a lot for Pittsburgh, closing down lots of plants across the border.Report

  10. Avatar zic says:

    A fifth question: is he savvy enough to control domain names for his campaign?

    Now that’s a test for the politicians who hope to lead us into the future that none should fail.Report

  11. Avatar Francis says:

    Can we have some tougher questions?

    1. What alternative to the ACA can you get through Congress that doesn’t involve millions of people losing insurance or being priced out of insurance?

    2. What would you differently in negotiations with Iran? Do you think the remainder of the negotiating group will agree to a harder line?

    3. What are your thoughts on reducing income taxes in return for a carbon tax? Is climate change an issue for you?

    4. While the deficit is shrinking, it’s still there. Do you plan to propose tax cut legislation? What spending cuts are you willing to propose to pay for those tax cuts?Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Francis says:

      Those seem like good questions for all candidates, but not specific to Jeb.Report

      • Avatar Dan Scotto in reply to Kazzy says:

        Yes, I agree with this response. These are great questions, but they’re basically great questions for any candidate, while Jeb’s particular situation lends itself to these questions as “starting points.”Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Francis says:

      4. While the deficit is shrinking, it’s still there. Do you plan to propose tax cut legislation? What spending cuts are you willing to propose to pay for those tax cuts?

      I am going to get pedantic for a moment. The deficit is a yearly measure of how much more the government spends than it takes in revenues. It matters, but it largely matters because of its contribution to the stock of outstanding public debt (which is currently at a bit over 100% of GDP or $18 trillion) and long-term fiscal sustainability. A good portion of what determines whether we are going to be in deficit or in surplus is cyclical. In a good economic year, when businesses and households do well and the government collects a lot of taxes, we are likely to have a surplus. In bad years, the opposite holds.

      Tax changes and spending cuts matter, but with the magnitude of our current debt, they tend to be rounding errors. Our fiscal problems are structural; that is, they relate to the very way our tax code is structured and the entitlements that are excluded from what we consider discretionary spending.

      So, the relevant question is not about deficits and taxes. It is a more broad question about outstanding debt and overall fiscal sustainability.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to j r says:

        “Tax changes and spending cuts matter, but with the magnitude of our current debt, they tend to be rounding errors. Our fiscal problems are structural; that is, they relate to the very way our tax code is structured and the entitlements that are excluded from what we consider discretionary spending.”

        That’s not my understanding; the Reagan administration changed things quite a bit, as did the Clinton and Bush II administrations.Report

  12. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    If I were going to campaign against Jeb, I’d lead with Iraq, follow up with Iraq, and close with Iraq. This isn’t guilt by association, because if you look at who his foreign policy team is, you see the people that sold and ran Gulf War II.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      And the Terri Schiavo case, where he got the legislature to award him dictatorial powers to overrule any state court, and after he lost that ordered a many years after the fact criminal investigation of Michael Schiavo, doesn’t exactly fit with small-government constitutional conservatism. Though it probably does help him with the GOP base.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        “…doesn’t exactly fit with small-government constitutional conservatism.”

        It does, since there is no actual ‘small-government constitutional conservatism’. There is ‘give me pork and punish my enemies’ conservatism, but no real small-government conservatism.Report

    • Avatar Notme in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Won’t that attack work better on Hillary, didnt she vote for Iraq?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Notme says:

        You mean, did she vote to authorize military action should it become necessary? Yes. Did the AUMF say in so many words “We’re going to invade on the flimsiest of pretenses, do no planning whatsoever for the aftermath, refuse for years to admit that the Iraqis are fighting back, and create a complete clusterfish”? No. Should Hilary, knowing who was running the show, have assumed all of that anyway? I guess you do have a point.Report

      • Avatar Notme in reply to Notme says:

        I see, Hillary voted for it but you wont hold her responsible for it. If you vote to use force dont be surprised, if it is used. Do Dems ever except responsibility for anything they do?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Notme says:

        Do you hold Bush and Rumsfeld responsible for the disaster it turned into?Report

      • Avatar Notme in reply to Notme says:

        Yes, i do. Anything else?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Notme says:

        One more. How do you feel about the fact that Paul Wolfowitz is on Jeb’s foreign policy team?Report

      • Avatar Notme in reply to Notme says:

        Wolf or any other advisor can give bad advice. Im more concerned that the future president get more than one informed viewpoint carefully consider the options and make the best decision. Yes, Wolf is a neo con but that doesnt make him wrong about everything.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Notme says:

        The people who voted for the Iraq War fall into three categories: The Liars, the Dupes, and the Cowards. The Liars wanted to invade Iraq and didn’t care about facts, except to the extent that they could be spun to build support for the invasion. To the extent that they could not be spun this way, they were disregarded and more convenient factual claims substituted. The Dupes were the people who believed the Liars, even though there was ample information readily available to spot the lies. The Cowards were the ones who were busy covering their asses. In an environment were a vote against war was being loudly condemned as just barely short of treasonous, these people voted the wrong way.

        So which category was Clinton? She clearly was not one of the ones pushing the war, so she was a Liar. It is possible that she was a Dupe, but my guess (based on nothing more solid that gut feeling) is that she was a Coward. I also believe that this is why Obama won in 2008.

        How does this play out for 2016? While hardly a Profile in Courage, its relevance is not obvious to me. I think she voted as she did because she, like most Democrats in Congress, was keeping her head down and did not think there was any chance of the voting going other than it did. Conceptually, this is not any different from what Congress critters do all the time. This tells us little about how she would act as President.

        The vote hardly gives me a warm fuzzy. I was happy to see Obama win in ’08, and her war vote was a substantial part of that. But as a practical matter, whoever the Republicans nominate is far more likely to go looking for stupid wars to start. Part of being a grown up is knowing that you vote for the best (or, if you prefer, the least bad) candidate available rather than demanding the candidate who perfectly matches the ideal in your head. And to vote for the Liar faction out of distain for the Cowards would be insane.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Notme says:

        I don’t subscribe to the Cowards, Liars, and Dupes paradigm.

        The Resolution passed in October 2002, Hans Blix finally got his team on the ground the following month after Saddam stonewalled for years.

        I also think that Hilary failed miserably to adequately disavow her decision to sign off on the AUMF. Whether or not her decision was driven by her thought that the Administration was going to use it as a negotiation tactic to get the inspectors into Iraq (which was the entire purpose of the whole affair, really), the scope of the follow-up disaster makes it clear that entrusting the current Administration with the blanket authority to proceed was an egregious error.

        Paul Wolfowitz should be a non-starter for anyone who pays attention to U.S. foreign policy. He was an integral piece of a multi-trillion dollar fiasco, quite literally the worst U.S. foreign policy escapade in the history of the country.

        There is simply no analogous failure in finance, business, governmental or NGO organizational screwups that comes remotely close to demonstrating how utterly incompetent someone is than how badly he functioned during the Iraq War.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Notme says:

        the scope of the follow-up disaster makes it clear that entrusting the current Administration with the blanket authority to proceed was an egregious error.

        I read that as “You gave a loaded revolver to a three-year old. What the hell did you expect to happen?” Is that your intended meaning?Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Notme says:

        @mike-schilling I’m ok with that reading, as long as we recognize that the gun is just being handed round the entire playgroup and no one wants to be an adult and take it away.Report

      • Avatar Notme in reply to Notme says:

        I think giving blanket authority to any administration is dangerous. I also think she was a coward for voting for the resolution and that she her explanation only caused more questions.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Notme says:

        Part of the problem is how important the AUMF became under Obama. It wasn’t merely a justification to kill Iraqis, it became the justification to use drones in Libya.

        When given the choice between continuing condemning Shrubya’s Folly or defending Obama’s Upholding Of His Oath To Protect The United States From Enemies Foreign And Domestic, too many chose the latter.

        And now they have to choose between attacking Bush IV or defending Hillary.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Notme says:


        I read that as “You gave a loaded revolver to a three-year old. What the hell did you expect to happen?” Is that your intended meaning?

        No, not really.

        When you look at the Bush Administration’s War Team (Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld), you’re looking at the same War Team that Bush The Elder had in 1992.

        Cheney on Desert Storm, just after the war:

        “I would guess if we had gone in there, we would still have forces in Baghdad today. We’d be running the country. We would not have been able to get everybody out and bring everybody home.

        And the final point that I think needs to be made is this question of casualties. I don’t think you could have done all of that without significant additional U.S. casualties, and while everybody was tremendously impressed with the low cost of the (1991) conflict, for the 146 Americans who were killed in action and for their families, it wasn’t a cheap war.

        And the question in my mind is, how many additional American casualties is Saddam (Hussein) worth? And the answer is, not that damned many. So, I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the President made the decision that we’d achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq.”

        One of the more fascinating bits of org psych in politics in the last hundred years is how that team moved, en masse, from “What the hell, it would be crazy to be involved in a long-term occupation of a Middle Eastern country” to “It is absolutely imperative for American national security that we become involved in a long-term occupation of a Middle Eastern country” in the space of ten years.Report

  13. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    I wouldn’t dismiss the dynastic argument so quickly. The Adamses had one term each, and there was only four years of a Taft. If Jeb is elected twice, that would mean a generation and a half where a Bush was president more than half of the time.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      The other thing is while the collective Adams and Taft presidencies are underrated, they’re still not highly rated by any measure. Moreover, Adams Sr, Adams Jr, Fat Taft, and Bob Taft each individually represent a dead end in American political evolution.

      So if history is any guide, Jeb Bush foretells the end of the party system in its current iteration.Report

    • Avatar aaron david in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      But this would only put the Bush dyno one term up on the Clinton dyno if Hil wins. And presuming she did, the likelyhood of her winning the second term is greater than 50%. So it’s kind of a wash.

      I don’t want either of them. So, happy with the 3rd party ticket!Report

    • There’s also the Harrisons and the Roosevelts. Separated by generations, but still. And if we’re talking Tafts, let’s talk Kennedy-Sheivers. Maybe Adlai Stevenson I and II and Al Gore Sr. and Jr. are not significant enough to be “dynasties” but are steps along the road to them.

      It helps in politics to have money, access to more money, free time away from a day job to devote to campaigning, and social prominence. It ought not be surprising, then, that elite families, who have much more of these things than most other folks who work for their livings, are overrepresented in the ranks of the political class. Indeed, it’s a little surprising that we are still as small-R republican as we are.Report

  14. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I found this article very interesting, thanks.

    A question: Doesn’t Jeb have a pretty big advantage in not being a Democrat in the US? It seems that Americans have a record of switching out the party at the top after a few terms.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Clinton can play as the “Token Republican” if she wants to.
      She certainly seems to be riding the Nostaligia Express, so far.
      (AKA, has paid attention to what won for Obama, and figured out how to express that, herself).Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kim says:

        She voted against a war?

        Clinton is the presumptive nominee right now because most the usual contenders to follow up a term limited president from the same party aren’t running (visibly), i.e. Biden, or are governors that have been in the mix too long (Brown) or too short (Hickenloper) or are the subject of open revolt from wings in the Democratic part (Cuomo).

        The big exception is O’Malley, who *can* run Obama’s playbook and possibly give Clinton a run for her (substantial) money. (but all accounts are he hasn’t been able to get those early seed donors that Obama was able to poach).Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim says:

        no, she knows what “middle America” wants, and ten years late, they couldn’t care diddly if she voted against a war.
        Base got memories, the squishes pretty much don’t.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Kim says:

        “Base got memories, the squishes pretty much don’t.”

        Yep. “Clinton? Wasn’t he President? Huh. And some other guy. Whatever, guess I’ll vote for Clinton.”Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim says:

        worked that way in South Carolina, certainly…Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kim says:

        Clinton would have probably won against McCain, too. The Bush (2.0) stink was too strong on the entire Republican Party (except for RON PAUL!) that year, and McCain’s reaction to when the bottom dropped out of the junkie economy sealed the deal. (and also, at the end of the day, Paulson had to go to Pelosi and do an inverted Hassert rule gredunza to arrest the fall, putting Obama in the catbird seat)Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kim says:

        I think Kolohe is pretty much right. Also, Howard Dean or John Kerry…Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Kim says:

        Hell, with GW Bush loomking over the field the Risen Christ probably wouldn’t have won in the general election as a republican.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kim says:

        Well, he’s not natural born and so wouldn’t be eligible.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Okay, so to return to my original question, doesn’t the Republican candidate, whoever it is, already have points over the Democratic candidate, whoever it is, by virtue of the other party controlling the White House for eight years and Americans tending to like to switch them out?Report