October 30, 2015

PEGGY NOONAN ON THE NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME BUSH:

He’s not good at the merry aggression of national politics. He never had an obvious broad base within the party. He seemed to understand the challenge of his name in the abstract but not have a plan to deal with it. It was said of Scott Walker that the great question was whether he had the heft and ability to go national. The same should have been asked of Jeb. He had never been a national candidate, only a governor. Reporters thought he was national because he was part of a national family.

He was playing from an old playbook—he means to show people his heart, hopes to run joyously. But it’s 2015, we’re in crisis; they don’t care about your heart and joy, they care about your brains, guts and toughness. The expectations he faced were unrealistically high. He was painted as the front-runner. Reporters thought with his record, and a brother and father as president, he must be the front-runner, the kind of guy the GOP would fall in line for. But there’s no falling in line this year. He spent his first months staking out his position not as a creative, original chief executive of a major state—which he was—but as a pol raising shock-and-awe money and giving listless, unfocused interviews in which he slouched and shrugged. There was a sense he was waiting to be appreciated.

I speak of his candidacy in the past tense, which is rude though I don’t mean it rudely. It’s just hard to see how this can work. By hard I mean, for me, impossible.

In his latest G-File, Jonah Goldberg adds, “While not my first choice by any measure, I think [Jeb] could be a fine president, and it would be a no-brainer to vote for him over Hillary Clinton. That said, I’ve always thought he’d be a deeply, deeply, flawed nominee. As I’ve written before, in a contest of familiar brands, the more popular one does better — and the Clinton brand is more popular than the Bush brand. In a change election, when the other side has an old and tired brand, the last thing in the world you should do is respond with an older and even more tired brand.”

But leave it to Steve Green to really stick the vermouth in: “When somebody like Jeb Bush has lost somebody like Peggy Noonan, it’s over.”

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