Thursday, February 5, 2015

David Frum asks, "Is Jeb Bush...

...a Republican Obama?" in the latest Atlantic.*

Frum is one of the few Republicans worth listening to, and this piece is no exception. He begins by saying (my emphasis):

Margaret Thatcher famously said that her greatest success as a politician was the rise of Tony Blair to lead a party he called New Labour: “We forced our opponents to change their minds.” As yet, Barack Obama can make no similar boast. Just the opposite: He radicalized his Republican opponents, and empowered most those who agreed with him least. With the presidential campaign of Jeb Bush, Obama can finally glimpse Thatcher-style success. Here, at last, is an opponent in his own image.

The rest is mostly about Jeb's stance on immigration reform, but Frum does try to make the case that Jeb and Obama "may likewise express a commonality more important than their differences over energy policy, taxes, or abortion."

Is Frum right? I'm not sure, but if you listen to only a few minutes of the hour-long video in the piece you may come away thinking, as I did, that Jeb is a Republican that you could live with. He comes across as intelligent, reasonable and very mature emotionally. (He's much more appealing than Mitt Romney -- much more.) And if "likeability" wins elections, Hillary had better watch out!

Now, I happen to agree with the first part of Frum's opening paragraph as well as the second. And that is that the GOP is still not ready for someone whom I would consider intelligent, reasonable and emotionally mature. Even if Jeb didn't have "controversial" stands on immigration and the Common Core, I just can't see today's Republican Party nominating him for president in 2016. I think Frum's right, in that Obama will ultimately lead to a more reasonable Republican opponent -- but not yet. The GOP needs to get its ass kicked -- real bad -- a la Goldwater in 1964 or McGovern in 1972 before they begin to look at each other and say something like, "Gee, maybe we need to move more to the center of where America actually is right now, rather than where we wish it was." And when the others in the conversation nod their heads in agreement then I'll be convinced. But they're not there yet.

Today's Republican Party is still too gripped by fear, anger and resentment (due to the Great Recession?) to see or think clearly; the fever hasn't broken. I expect the GOP to nominate someone like Scott Walker and be in utter shock (just like the Romney people) when he loses to Hillary (probably by a greater margin than in 2012).

But I'll admit it: I do kind of like Jeb. So he's toast.

* Note to Republicans thinking of running for president (or any office, for that matter): scrub the Internet of any pictures of you smiling at President Obama.

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