Let us now make the case for Jeb skepticism.
If the choice comes down to Bush versus Clinton, the conservative cause would be advanced by another Bush presidency far more than it would be advanced by another Clinton presidency. That's just my opinion, but I consider it as obvious as noting that water is wet.
But will it come down to that? And, more importantly, should it?
Let's start with the first question. It's definitely possible that Bush will be the nominee. He is raising a mind-boggling amount of money. He's doing well in the polls right now, though how much of that has to do with name recognition or the media-constructed aura of inevitability is unknowable. Some people like to back the winner early. Many in the press have been treating Jeb like the inevitable nominee for months. Maybe some of that rubbed off?
Still, Bush is not doing that great. He may be running nearly neck-and-neck with the front-runner,
Jeb lacks three advantages his brother had. First, the name "Bush" tested much, much better in the late 1990s. Second, as
But they also like to support someone who isn't hostile to them, which is the third problem for Jeb. Unlike his father and his brother, Jeb has done next to nothing to court the base of the party. And, fair or not, many assume he's hostile to that base.
But let's say he manages to get the nomination. Is he the best candidate to run against
The Clinton name unifies Democrats while the Bush name divides Republicans. Moreover, Hillary's private email fiasco notwithstanding, the Clinton brand and Clinton era are more popular with most Americans than the Bush brand and the Bush era. Voters typically want a change after an eight-year presidency. But if the election becomes a contest between two tired brands, the more popular one (that at least promises the first female president) will probably win.
Jeb, it seems to me, is the one Republican candidate who makes the Clinton brand name an asset rather than a liability.
Beyond all of this branding stuff (which I hate), what are Hillary's specific vulnerabilities? Well, she's a weak campaigner, and foreign policy has been an utter disaster under the Democrats, particularly on her watch as secretary of state. If Jeb -- who is still quite rusty on the stump -- attacks her for botching the Russian reset, the rise of the Islamic State, the hegemonic spread of
Now imagine it's
Obviously, Jeb has his strengths. He is a smart and capable man who is more than merely his last name. He may have skills and strategies (and certainly the money to augment them) that can compensate for his liabilities. But it seems obvious to me that the