Jeb, Out There “Blowhardin'”


508009668-jeb-bush-new-hampshireTrump’s theatrics aside, perhaps the most entertaining (and revealing) episode of this primary season features Jeb Bush. On the stump this Tuesday, Jeb regurgitated a string of poorly memorized sound bites (“I won’t be an agitator-in-chief … I won’t be out there blowhardin’, talkin’, er, a big game… “) and then, at the height of a crescendo that failed to move a soul, he prompted the crowd to “please clap.”

Over at the Ricochet Member Feed, Brian Watt’s link to the clip is appropriately entitled: “Very Sad. Jeb Please Just Stop. You’re An Embarrassment.”

Jeb was supposed to be the statesman in this race — a problem-solver who, if too much of policy wonk, at least was a man with gravitas. Now, his campaign in tatters, Jeb has been exposed as somewhat of an impostor, and a dangerous one at that. In the face of Trump’s blustery oversimplifications, Jeb could not even begin to articulate why Trump was wrong. Jeb appeared as the “establishment” par excellence — well-credentialed, well-bred, but dependent on mere assertions that he is worthy of the presidency. Jeb thus became the perfect foil to fuel Trump’s rise. Not only harmful as an inadvertent accomplice to Trump-mania, Jeb tries to mount a comeback built around ripping his former protégé, Marco Rubio, perhaps Republicans’ best chance for winning the general election.

The thud of Jeb’s “please clap” moment especially resonated with me yesterday as I happened across a beautiful passage from the second volume of William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill (The Last Lion: Alone). Before the Nazi seizure of Prague, the Munich Agreement had been resoundingly popular in England. The memory of the Great War had not faded and it was believed that appeasement would ensure a much-desired peace. But Churchill did not relent in criticizing Munich and Chamberlain’s foolish policies, even if that criticism was displeasing to his own constituents. Manchester writes:

[Churchill] delivered scathing speeches on appeasement and HMG’s failure to rearm to audiences who felt otherwise, and whose votes he needed if he was to keep his seat. He didn’t enjoy it. More than most public men, he reveled in applause. He just didn’t know how to compromise. In Great Contemporaries, he had written: “Politicians rise by toil and troubles. They expect to fail; they hope to rise.” Perseverance is the worthiest of political traits, and certainly the most difficult; a British historian who takes a jaundiced view of Winston acknowledges that “To persist in a political career that appears to others, and even on occasion to the politician himself, as finished, demands exceptional strength of character in a sensitive and proud man.” … He yearned for a ministry, but only on his own terms. Had his constituents rejected him, his response would have echoed an Emerson couplet: “Good-bye, proud world! I’m going home; / Thou art not my friend and I’m not thine.”

It is not fair to compare John Ellis Bush to Churchill, but reading this yesterday made me all the more astounded to see Jeb cue the applause. It was desired-applause, not for any particular policy or for passionate principles, but for 20 seconds of rehearsed talking points that meant absolutely nothing. In that clip, Jeb showcases the emptiness of modern American politicians, trapped as they are inside their own advertisements — trained to stay “on message” and reliant on wave after wave of the prop of canned praise.

Jeb’s plea did not sound of entitlement (i.e., “what is wrong with you people, you don’t know when to clap for me?!”). It was instead more of an inside joke, almost in apology to his supporters, whom he knows are on the high-seas behind a diffident captain. Poor Jeb. His perseverance is not really in enduring the public’s rejection of a valiant candidacy, but in being dragged by family or party or his own sense of pride toward a prize that he does not really want. He should have gone home long ago.

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There are 14 comments.

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  1. BrentB67 Inactive

    Hey! We have a CoC here. Watch that title pal.

    • #1
  2. The Forgotten Man Inactive
    The Forgotten Man

    Jeb might make a great president, of a State or private university.  I can’t help myself I don’t like the man.  Since I don’t know Governor Bush, I obviously don’t mean it personally.  I mean it professionally his profession not mine.  He says the mostly right stuff but is so lame in the delivery.  Sometimes he gins up a bored anger or unconvincing emphatic “I will do this”.

    I liked both his Dad and his Brother as politicians and as presidents so Jeb being a Bush is not a problem for me (although it is for many).   I resent the havoc being reeked on fellow republicans just so Jeb can rise from 2% in the polls to 3%.  Stay through NH Jeb, but if you do not win or come in second then turn out the lights the parties.

    • #2
  3. Peter Robinson Contributor
    Peter Robinson

    “on the high-seas behind a diffident captain.”


    • #3
  4. Leigh Inactive

    Louis Beckett: . In the face of Trump’s blustery oversimplifications, Jeb could not even begin to articulate why Trump was wrong.

    Oh, I think Jeb sometimes articulates why Trump is wrong reasonaly accurately. But painfully ineffectively, to the extent that I wince when he follows Trump on the debate stage.

    • #4
  5. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno

    I want to cry watching this clip.  He’s such a nice fellow.   He got blindsided by the times in which he finds himself.

    He’s like a preppy who turned down the wrong street and got a flat tire in front of the Bloods HQ.

    • #5
  6. Larry3435 Member

    He should have the SNL character, Mr. Subliminal, in his speeches.  “I’m a leader <of nobody>.  I can fix it <if I knew what ‘it’ was>.”

    • #6
  7. Matthew Gilley Inactive
    Matthew Gilley

    I am not supporting Jeb in this race, not one little bit. In fairness, though, I’d rather we not denigrate him as an embarrassment. I do think he is embarrassing himself, though.

    • #7
  8. Concretevol Thatcher

    Message….I care

    • #8
  9. Brian Watt Inactive
    Brian Watt

    Well, I have to admit that I did change the title of my post to: “Please Clap for Jeb. He Needs The Encouragement.” because I felt so bad for the guy. (But he’s still an embarrassment. Or what Mona said.)

    • #9
  10. Lizzie in IL Inactive
    Lizzie in IL

    Concretevol:Message….I care

    But, phoning it in.  He’s a guy on auto-pilot if ever there was one, which in these perilous times is Not.Good.Enough.

    • #10
  11. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha

    If it weren’t for the tens of millions he’s directing to kneecap Rubio I’d feel sorry for him – like Fozzy Bear bombing his stand up routine.

    • #11
  12. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto

    Petty Boozswha:If it weren’t for the tens of millions he’s directing to kneecap Rubio I’d feel sorry for him – like Fozzy Bear bombing his stand up routine.

    Agreed.  The embarrassment needs to be heaped on until he drops.

    • #12
  13. jonsouth Inactive

    Jeb, by this stage, reminds me of that Australian speed skater in the winter olympics some years ago, who knew he had zero chance of winning unless every other competitor fell and wiped out, clearing his path to victory. Which is exactly what happened – twice – both in the semi and the final, giving him the gold. With the current field there’s always that chance, and that’s why Jeb’s still around.

    Please clap.

    • #13
  14. Hoyacon Member

    There’s something about him that I’ve always liked, and I’ve tried to come up with ideas that would put his sort of ineffectual nature to good use in a Republican administration.  Would he make a good head of the EPA, or could we not trust him to just talk and not do anything?

    • #14
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