The Fix and the Future of Jeb
The Fix’s Chris Cilliza recently gave a nice description of some of former governor Jeb Bush’s policy theories. It was interesting, though it underplayed Bush’s focus on education (education meaning vouchers).
Cilliza also gave us an interesting take on Bush’s ambitions that no one in Florida could possibly believe.
According to the Fix, Jeb has abandoned his political ambitions, as indicated by the fact that he passed on an open U.S. Senate seat. His current ambition is now limited to being a wise, grandfatherly figure who will lead the Republican Party to a brave new world using some sort of food group metaphor.
Let pose this scenario to the Fix – one believed by every Floridian I know who has given this any thought.
Jeb knows that the Bush name is toxic for the near future. The best way to detox it is to disappear just a little.
It is said in Tallahassee that Jeb’s problem is not that he’s an idiot (implying that big brother George is an idiot), but that he thinks everyone else is an idiot. He is a smart man with more than enough introspection to know that he is an executive type of guy. He was always known for a certain high-handedness that would not serve him well in the Senate and sense of self that precludes being merely a junior Senator among 99 others.
His name means that he can come back in 2012 or even 2016 and people will still remember him.
This all assumes that he wants to be president – something that every Floridian has assumed since at the 1994 gubernatorial campaign, when he ran (and lost) to Walkin’ Lawton Chiles.
It seems clear to me that Jeb is building his national connections, staying in close touch with the leadership (such as it is) of the GOP and maintaining his connections to the bundlers who could fund a presidential run seven years down the road.
Sorry, Chris – no one down here buys it when you imply that he is happy to be sort of éminence grise for the Republican party, content to stay behind the scenes. He may not be practicing open politics, but it wasn’t “disinterest in the rough-and-tumble, who's up-who's down, point-scoring part of the political game that likely led Bush to take a pass on a slam-dunk Senate candidacy to replace Mel Martinez (R) in 2010” – but an interest in something bigger than the U.S. Senate and keen eye for the best path (for him) to get there.