Joshua Green, who writes and blogs about politics for the Atlantic and the Boston Globe, proposes that Jeb Bush should run for the Republican nomination:
Jeb Bush is the candidate hiding in plain sight. The brother and son of presidents stepped back from elected politics after his second term as Florida governor ended three year ago. At 57, he’s in his prime.
The knock on Jeb Bush begins and ends with his name. ”If he weren’t a Bush, he’d be an obvious top choice,” said conservative activist Grover Norquist. Widely presumed by the political cognoscenti to one day follow his father and win the White House, Jeb instead watched as his brother did so first, and then saw his own prospects laid to rest when George W. Bush became one of the least popular presidents in American history.
Bush … has a solid conservative record that wasn’t compiled in Washington and broad appeal in a critical state; for a party conspicuously lacking a positive agenda, he’s also known as an ideas guy. Bush hasn’t followed the Tea Partiers to the political fringes – he opposed Arizona’s racial profiling law, for instance – but neither has he ignored them. On Monday, he’ll appear at a Kentucky fundraiser for Tea Party favorite and GOP Senate nominee Rand Paul.
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The main reason Green’s argument is plausible is that the Republican pool is wide but shallow. Romney has amassed a large war chest, and he can make a case that his business experience is an important asset in troubled economic times. But the energy of the Republican party is with the tea party types, and Romney will never be their guy. Palin is a remarkable force; she can win the nomination but she is too polarizing to win the election. Gingrich is still carrying baggage from his failed speakership in the nineties. As for Jeb, he has shown no indication of interest. As Green points out, he has neither formed a PAC nor raised any money.
There is a dream scene in Oliver Stone’s W. that takes place in the Oval Office, in which Bush 41 says to Bush 43, “200 years of a family name and you [W.] ruined it!” Did he ruin it? W. has been out of office for a year and a half, and his favorable rating is up to 45% in a recent Gallup poll.
I don’t think that the Bush name would be much of a drawback in a Republican presidential primary. But you know it will be an inviting target in a general election.