Monday, February 22, 2016

Money Can't Buy Me Love

We all know the old saying, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." The amendment to that is, "If you're still not succeeding, stop; you're making a damn fool of yourself." 

This Saturday, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, after not succeeding in Iowa and trying again (New Hampshire) and again (South Carolina), decided it was time to stop making a damn fool of himself and dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination for President

I'm not saying that Jeb would've made a great President but of all the candidates that were still in the race before the South Carolina primary Saturday, Jeb had the most experience and was easily the best qualified of that group to be President. 

A year ago there seemed to be a lot of support for a Jeb Bush run for President. Both the Bush campaign and the Super PAC associated with that campaign amassed tons of money. Jeb's advantage in money over other probable candidates like Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Chris Christie and others was almost insurmountable. 

But Walker and Perry were out of the race months before the first vote was cast in Iowa and Christie was gone right after New Hampshire. And by the time Jeb Bush made it to South Carolina, the financial largess enjoyed by his campaign was nearly gone

So what went wrong? 

A lot can be made of the baggage that came with the last name of Bush. Brother George W. served two terms but ended his time as President with the economy in collapse and the country mired in two wars, one of which was completely avoidable. 

And something could be made of Jeb's lack of skills as a campaigner. Jeb seemed to struggle with questions that may have been tough but easily anticipatable. 

But the big thing that laid low the candidacy of Jeb Bush (or, if you prefer, JEB!) is the threat that nipped at the heels of Mitt Romney in 2012, a threat that has gathered in strength and numbers over the last 2 decades. A threat the Republican Party created itself and now threatens the very existence and future of the party.  
You can call it the Tea Party Movement but its a threat that has been growing since before the launch of that segment of the party. It is the threat of the hard right wing elements of the GOP. 

For years, Republican candidates have emphasized an "us vs. them" mentality against the Democratic Party. It's not so much "vote for us because our way is better" but "vote for us because our way is right." Political opposition is cast as "enemies of America, people who hate America, deliberate destroyers of the American way."  

This black and white view has moved from candidacies to actual governance. Compromise and negotiation became dirty words. Why would anyone compromise or negotiate when the other side are "enemies of America, people who hate America, deliberate destroyers of the American way."

The result of such a mind set is nothing gets done and that adds to the rage and fury of Americans who have been told over and over the other side is wrong.  Problems that may have negotiated solutions become intractable when negotiation is not an option. 

 So why doesn't someone just do something?  

And along comes Donald Trump who sees an opportunity and seizes it. Donald appeals to those masses that the GOP has stirred up with a simple message: "I am going to fix it!"


"By doing something!"


"Who cares? It'll be something and it will be awesome and huge and you'll love me for it!" 

Jeb Bush, policy wonk extraordinaire with his bullet pointed resume and his position papers, never stood a chance. Against the hyper cartoon that was Donald Trump, Bush with his millions in campaign funds could not buy the electorate's love.  

It's a circumstance that was foreshadowed back in 2012 when Newt Gingrich snatched South Carolina away from Mitt Romney. Newt was riding a wave of hard right wing dissatisfaction with Romney.

Mitt was running against his own record as Governor of Massachusetts where he had launched a statewide health care reform plan that served as a model for President Obama's own national health care reform proposals.  

But in 2012, Mitt Romney had racked up a win in New Hampshire and a strong organization in place for the long haul while Newt Gingrich basically had enough in him to win South Carolina and that was it. In 2016, Jeb Bush was already marginalized even before Iowa and Donald Trump took South Carolina with a win in New Hampshire and a 2nd place finish in Iowa already in his back pocket.  

So Saturday night, Jeb Bush saw there was no further need to make a damn fool of himself and dropped out of the race. Which is really messed up. Because for all his shortcomings, Jeb is not the damn fool of the Republican Party

The damn fool is the one who is winning. 

Jeb Bush: exit stage right

That's that for today. Another blog post is up tomorrow. Until then, remember to be good to one another. 

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