Jeb Bush Doesn’t Have an Aura of Inevitability. And that’s Fine.

Nicholas Confessore–who in the past, has written for non-right wing rags like Salon, Washington Monthly, and The American Prospect, and who therefore may not be the most unbiased soul in the world when it comes to writing about Republicans–co-authored this piece along with Maggie Haberman in which we are breathlessly informed that not all Republicans are backing a Jeb Bush candidacy for the presidency.

To which, my reply is as follows: Who bloody well cares?

First off, let’s correct some history:

It is a far cry, party officials, activists and donors said, from the early success of George W. Bush, Mr. Bush’s brother, in securing the 2000 Republican presidential nomination.

For the Bush family, inevitability is not what it used to be. “There hasn’t been a coalescing around him like there was for his brother in 1998 and 1999,” said Ed Martin, who led the Missouri Republican Party until February and is now president of the Eagle Forum, the conservative group founded by Phyllis Schlafly. “I just don’t have a sense among big donors and Republican leaders that this is Jeb’s to lose.”

I really don’t have much trouble recalling that John McCain put George W. Bush through his paces during the race for the Republican presidential nomination, so claims by Confessore and Haberman notwithstanding, there was no particular aura of “inevitability” surrounding George W. Bush back during the 2000 race. Bush was the favorite, and he won, but McCain put up a fight that won the respect of those who observed the 2000 contest.

And that last point leads to my next one: If Jeb Bush walks away with the Republican nomination with no opposition whatsoever, he may well rue it in the 2016 general election contest.

Primary and caucus opponents may be a pain in the gluteus of the eventual nominee, but their presence in the race can ultimately serve to be salubrious for the nominee. If Jeb Bush has to fight through significant opposition in order to win the Republican nomination, he will be forced to put together a sharper and tougher campaign, and he will also be forced to be a sharper and tougher candidate. That will stand him in good stead when it comes time for any general election fight with the Democratic nominee. By contrast, if Bush has little to no opposition, then he may assume that he can afford to be a lazy candidate with a lazy campaign, and he will pay for that assumption in November, 2016.

Is Jeb Bush working to make himself look as formidable as possible in the current shadow campaign? Absolutely. Is he working to intimidate potential competitors with a showing of strength? You bet. Neither you, nor I, nor anyone else should expect otherwise. But just because Bush might have to put up with tough competition does not make his candidacy a failure, and if he views the competition in the right way–as a process that might help him become a better candidate–he will benefit mightily from the competition. And so, for that matter will the Republican party and the country as a whole.

Still don’t believe me? Well, consider the fact that back in 2000, Al Gore put an early end to Bill Bradley’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination by winning both Iowa and New Hampshire. Bradley, at the end of the day, didn’t put up much of a fight. Maybe if he did, Gore would have been a better and more effective candidate. Maybe if Gore had been a better and more effective candidate, he would have won his home state of Tennessee. And if Gore had won his home state of Tennessee, he would have been the 43rd president of the United States, regardless of who won Florida. And as for the upcoming primary and caucus fight on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton currently has no real competition for the hearts and minds of Democratic voters–though that may change soon. How is she doing as a candidate, however? Don’t respond by saying “quite well, thank you,” because that’s just not right.


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