Stay Out the Bushes


Speaking of candidates Americans don't want to vote for, Quin Hillyer makes the case for a third president Bush: John Ellis "Jeb" Bush, the tall one with an Al Gore appetite.

[H]e isn't running now, but the new, front-loaded primary system may, counterintuitively, allow him to enter the race late as a "white knight" rescuing Republicans from a morass of unhappiness and indecision.

Look: No. No, this won't happen. Republicans don't want it to happen. In June last year Gallup asked if Jeb was an "acceptable choice" for Republican primary voters. Fifty-two percent said he wasn't, more than said this of Bill Frist, of Mitt Romney, of Newt Gingrich, of George Pataki. The same month CNN asked the general population if they'd vote for Jeb; 63 percent said no, definitely not, 15 points higher than for even John Kerry. In a May Fox poll, Hillary beat him by 16 points. In a 2005 Hotline poll, if John McCain ran as an independent and Jeb as a Republican, Jeb would get 18 percent to McCain's 40, which is less than Ross Perot got. Quin's answer:

[A] lot can change in a year. Ask George H. W. Bush, he of the 91 percent approval rating in 1991, about how fast political fortunes can change. What if, by late winter of next year, the vaunted troop surge in Iraq is seen to have been a major success? What if the continued over-reaching by Nancy Pelosi and John Murtha makes President George W. Bush look good by comparison, just as Bill Clinton looked good when compared with the caricature Newt Gingrich allowed to be drawn of himself?

My answers: it is easier for polls to fall than for them to rise, if the surge works McCain will probably win the GOP nomination and cruise through the general, and the "over-reaching" by the Democrats consists of extremely popular anti-war positions.

Americans are done with the Bushes. They really are; they've decided that they make lousy presidents. Maybe there'll be some retroactive nostalgia for them after four years of the Biden presidency, but by that point the Mark Sanfords and Tim Pawlentys of the world are going to have better campaigns than a guy who hasn't run for anything in ten years.