By Trevor Timm
The Guaridan (9/12/14)
here are many, many reasons to abhor Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, but there’s at least one reason to appreciate it, for now: his constant and merciless trolling of Jeb Bush that is currently tanking Bush’s shot at the presidency. In some sense, Trump is doing democracy a service by helping ensure we will not have to suffer the embarrassment of having a third Bush family member as president within two decades.
Trump’s penchant for insulting anyone in his path is now well-known (and often deplorable and sexist), though most candidates usually have to deliberately poke the bear for Trump to engage in his usual charade. But just about every day, Trump will go after Jeb unprompted – whether on Twitter or at campaign events or in interviews with journalists – with a voracity virtually never seen in primary politics. Oftentimes it’s substantive and other times it’s not, but it’s almost always delightful to watch.
Trump will attack Jeb for his support for the Iraq War, but if Bush lightly criticizes George W Bush, Trump questions why he would throw his brother under the bus. Trump attacks Jeb for his record in Florida, rips him for his $1.3m “no show job” at Lehman Brothers after he left the governorship. He calls Jeb out for being“100% CONTROLLED” by his wealthy donors, and when a few donors recently left Jeb’s campaign, Trump made fun of him for that too.
But it’s repetition of his now infamous and nebulous phrase – that Bush is a “low-energy guy” who could not handle the rigors of the presidency – that has become a daily occurrence and clearly gotten under Bush’s skin. Trump is constantly finding new ways to say it or sneaking it into statements, even those that aren’t targeted at Bush himself.
He has been running half-bizarre half-amazing, extremely low-budget Instagram campaign commercials, thelatest of which shows a Jeb supporterfalling asleep at one of his rallies. It’s an instant classic in the genre. Trump’s previous less-than-15-second Instagram ads targeting Jeb declared“Enough is Enough - no more Bushes!” and featuring Barbara Bush saying we don’t need another Bush presidency are just as cutting (she later recanted when it was clear Jeb would run).
During a recent 35-minute interviewwith the Washington Post, Trump criticized Jeb and the two other Bush presidents a total of 33 times (which the Post helpfully documented in a separate article). As one anonymous Trump associate told the Post, Trump is “driven and he has two goals: one, to be elected president, and two, to have Jeb not be president.” The former remains a terrifying prospect, but the latter is something a lot people can get behind.
While Trump remains strongly disliked by the vast majority of Americans who are not members of the Republican party, Jeb is often pitched as the “moderate” candidate who can appeal to a large swath of voters. Yet in substance, he is far more dangerous than Trump.
Jeb said last week the person he looked to most for Middle East advice is the same man who led the country into two disastrous wars that we are still paying for more than a decade later, George W Bush. On the Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday, Jeb said he was like his brother, except “more conservative.” So if you ever thought George W Bush’s wars in the Middle East were spot on, but wished he cut taxes for the richest people a little more, Jeb Bush is the candidate for you.
Thankfully, Trump has exposed Bush, not only on substance but as someone who is just not a good politician. Jeb’s campaign knows it. His donors know it. And the voters certainly have been paying attention: Bush’s poll numbers have dropped so low, it’s hard to believe even the most conventional wisdom-spewing political pundits can still call him the “front runner” with a straight face. He’s dropped to fifth or sixth and to single digits in almost all the recent polls in the early primary states. He seems flustered on the trail, and no one can point to a path by which he recovers from this, despite remaining the DC elite’s odds-on favorite.
As embarrassing and terrifying as a Trump presidency would be, the virtual anointing of a Bush family monarchy could be far worse, and so at least for now, I hope Trump keeps swinging away.
- Thanks Jeb Bush. You Just Made My Life As A Jeb Even Harder — …there is one group on whom his candidacy will have severe impacts – one you have likely not thought of. I speak, of course, of the Jebs. I’ve written in the past about my personal resentment of his acronymic name (it’s John Ellis Bush, making “Jeb Bush” a redundancy on par with “ATM Machine”), but I realized that I couldn’t in good conscience resent his representation of Jebness while presuming to speak for all Jebs myself. Thus, I reached out to the only two other Jebs I could find. … Read the Rest
- Jeb Bush: The Nepotism Of Political Dynasties And The Tragedy Of Failing Upward — The most dislikable feature of Jeb’s name, however, is his last: it comes with enough baggage to fill several staterooms on whatever geopolitical Titanic he might wish to send steaming toward the Middle East after 2016. But “Bush” acts as full counterweight to “Clinton” in the he-said, she-said structure of modern objective reporting: the moment one dynasty faces another on a ballot, the political value of attacking the idea of a “dynasty” becomes totally neutralised. It shouldn’t. … Read the Rest