Thursday, October 29, 2015

Low Ebb Jeb

I had a hard time determining who I thought the winner of last night's GOP Presidential Debate was. I thought Marco Rubio once again showed that he has the best political skills of any one on the stage. Ted Cruz was also outstanding and last night could prove to be a break-out moment for him. Chris Christie also had a great night and he may have re-energized his flagging campaign as a result. Carly Fiorina turned in another consistent performance. These would be my four definite winners from last night's debate. Between Cruz and Rubio, it is tough to pick one overall winner.

However, it was easy to determine who was the biggest loser of the night---Jeb Bush. Jeb has definitely reached a low ebb.  Before he gets any lower perhaps he should think about getting out.

It makes you wonder how so many wealthy, influential people invested their money in a Bush candidacy?

For the record, I have had doubts about Jeb from the outset.

I wrote this about Bush back in May.
For now the race is mostly about money. And there seems to be a lot of money flowing in. Jeb Bush will bring in the most. I read one report that suggests he might have $100 million banked by the end of this month. However, will Jeb Bush be able to collect votes as easily as he is raising cash? In my view it will not be easy running with the Bush name. He starts the race with more money and also with more baggage that he only has by way of birth. It may not be fair but it's politics. It's never fair.

And followed it up with another observation in July about Jeb.

Interestingly, in a Bush-Clinton race 44% would definitely not vote for Bush and 43% would definitely not vote for Clinton. That is why, despite whatever merits Jeb Bush has as a person or candidate, he is a poor pick to run against Clinton. Hillary is carrying a lot of baggage into the race. Why would I pick someone with an equivalent amount of baggage when I have 15 other candidates that can be marketed with a relatively clean slate with most voters? 

It clearly is not easy running with the Bush name but it is even harder when your former protege stands next to you on the debate stage and you just don't measure up.

I saw a definite "Marco problem" for Bush in my observations immediately after the first debate in August.

It was difficult to pick a clear winner in the main debate (as contrasted to Carly Fiorina in the early debate) but I thought Marco Rubio stood out for his presence and his articulate answers. I also thought that Jeb Bush definitely suffers when he is on the same stage with his protege.

It all came crashing down on Jeb last night when he was standing right next to Rubio on the debate stage and made an ill-considered decision to attack Marco on his voting record in the Senate.

What was most inexplicable about the Bush attack was that Rubio had just done a great job of parrying the charge about his Senate absences from the CNBC moderators  agitators which drew good applause from the audience. However, Bush nevertheless tried to pile on with what was obviously a premeditated attack ("the French work week" line). It made no sense.

Credit: Seattle Times

And it did not end well for Bush. Rubio responded with what I believe is the best response on the debate stage since Lloyd Bentsen smacked down Dan Quayle in the 1992 Vice Presidential debate.

Credit: C-Span

I thought it was interesting to see a few of the comments from Jeb supporters in the aftermath of last night's debate that were reported by Politico.

“Horrible” is how one Florida-based Bush bundler summed up the night. “He got crushed.”

“Marco is a [expletive] Jedi master,” one distraught Florida donor said. “Hopefully these idiots learn not to [expletive] with him anymore. Not necessary.” Of course, how smart are these bundlers and donors if they gave Jeb money?

Of course, how smart are these bundlers and donors if they gave money to Jeb in the first place?

It is not the first time that the establishment placed their money on the wrong horse in a political race.

I still remember 1980 when all of the big establishment money went to John Connally early.

How did that work out?

Connally earned exactly one delegate in the Republican primaries.

The cost---$11 million. That would be about $36 million in today's dollars. That is a lot of money for one delegate.

Who was the anti-establishment candidate who won the GOP nomination that year?

Ronald Reagan.  It is still hard to think that in 1980 Ronald Reagan was the Ted Cruz or Donald Trump of the day.

Who ultimately picked up the establishment mantle in the GOP primaries after Connally faltered?

George H.W. Bush.

It looks like his son may end up looking more like a Connally than a Bush in this race.

Meanwhile, Jeb's protege, Rubio, may soon become the establishment choice squaring off in the end against whoever becomes the anti-establishment candidate (Trump, Carson, Cruz?).

History may not repeat, but it rhymes.

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