An Open Letter to Jeb Bush

 

Jeb BushDear Governor Bush,

There are many ways to express your love of country. One is to serve as President. In your case, that path seems closed. Since April, you spent the better part of $15 million in Iowa, yet you came sixth, winning just 2.8 percent of the vote and one delegate. At this rate, you’d need to spend $18,540,000,000 to win the nomination – which is more than even Right to Rise can manage.

There is no shame in losing, of course, and it’s always possible that New Hampshire will shock the world by giving you a victory, but let’s face it, the RealClearPolitics average of New Hampshire polls has you at under 10 percent (under 5 percent nationally), and your donors are panicking. After what was supposed to be a reassuring post-Iowa conference call with your campaign, one donor told Politico, “Have you ever heard the phrase ‘rattle of death?’”

Even stipulating that primary polls are notoriously poor, there are other reasons to conclude that this is not your year. It may not have much to do with you personally. There has never been a third president from the same family. Most Americans were fine with two Adamses, Harrisons, Roosevelts, and Bushes. Three is pushing it. I know, I know. You’re your own man. Of course that’s true. Life isn’t fair. But it goes both ways. You would almost certainly never have been governor if your name had been James Ellis instead of John Ellis Bush. You seem to be a fine person and were certainly a superior and very conservative governor of Florida. For good or ill, gratitude for past service is not the mood this year, and, with all due respect, except at the last debate, when, freed from Donald Trump’s bullying, you finally stood up straight, you’ve been an awfully dull candidate. We cannot chalk it up to voter ignorance. Between your campaign and your super PAC, you’ve already spent $89.1 million on positive ads about yourself and negative ads about others.

One of the great traits about the Bush family, as about other great New England Protestant old money families, is that you value good manners, courtesy, and integrity. Those virtues are disparaged in our increasingly vituperative, bombastic, and swaggering era. One senses that you find Donald Trump’s conduct disgusting and even a little bewildering. Good for you. It is.

And yet, you’ve directed the overwhelming majority of your negative advertising (and you’ve led the pack on negative ad spending) not against Trump, who seems to represent everything you find destructive and dangerous in modern politics, but against your old friend and ally Marco Rubio.

Your ads have been embarrassing. You and Rubio agree on nearly everything, so you’re dredging up long since debunked stories about credit cards and ridiculous accusations of missed votes in the Senate chamber. Really? Is that all you’ve got? No, you’ve also run ads attacking Rubio for taking the same position you took on illegal immigration. When challenged about these at the most recent debate, you said, “Politics ain’t beanbag.” No, but this is the narcissism of small differences.

You seem to believe, as many of us do, that in order to prosper, in fact, in order to survive, the Republican Party must look beyond its aging, white, rural, and evangelical Christian core to welcome African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, urbanites, and the young. Yet by attacking Rubio, you are attempting to sabotage the very best messenger the Republican Party has found in decades. As you yourself put it: “What Marco has is something that the Republican Party needs to have: A hopeful, optimistic message based on our principles. He’s probably the most articulate conservative on the scene today.”

After Iowa, Marco Rubio has an excellent chance of winning the Republican nomination. If he prevailed, he would be the most conservative nominee in decades and well situated to win the general election. This is not to hurt your feelings, but your general election favorability ratings are the worst in the Republican field with the exception of Trump. Despite the avalanche of negative ads, Rubio’s net favorables are the best (with the exception of Ben Carson and we know where that’s going).

If you were to drop out of the race now and endorse Marco Rubio, or at the very least, call off the attack dogs, you would be advancing everything you say you believe in except yourself. It would be a gracious and inspiring gesture. It would be a different way to serve your country – and might even revive our faith in Yankee integrity.

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Very well said, Mona. I think you or Jay were talking about Bush and said that somewhere between his governorship and this run, he lost something. (Assuming it was said on your podcast) I think that is true. He lacks a gut-level passion for the presidency. And it’s time to move on. I hope he does that, and with grace.

    • #1
  2. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Kiss. Of. Death.

    Rubio has to defeat Jeb then collect his endorsement or better yet simply grab his supporters and leave Jeb on the road behind him.

    Rubio should avoid anything that will allow him to be tarred as another establishment candidate instead of a compromise candidate.

    • #2
  3. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    The letter should be shorter.  It should say, just:  “Go away and leave us alone.”

    • #3
  4. Tom Riehl Inactive
    Tom Riehl
    @TrinityWaters

    Austin Murrey:Kiss. Of. Death.

    Rubio has to defeat Jeb then collect his endorsement or better yet simply grab his supporters and leave Jeb on the road behind him.

    Rubio should avoid anything that will allow him to be tarred as another establishment candidate instead of a compromise candidate.

    Twice in one day you strike gold!  Rubio, or any other worthy candidate, needs no help from the likes of Jeb, even if neutral or positive.  Marco’s already busy enough playing whack-a-mole with his Gang of Eight malfeasance.  He sure doesn’t need an act of love.

    • #4
  5. Tom Riehl Inactive
    Tom Riehl
    @TrinityWaters

    Spin:The letter should be shorter. It should say, just: “Go away and leave us alone.”

    Mr. Spin, yes that would be refreshing.

    • #5
  6. Limestone Cowboy Coolidge
    Limestone Cowboy
    @LimestoneCowboy

    Mona Charen: If you were to drop out of the race now and endorse Marco Rubio, or at the very least, call off the attack dogs, you would be advancing everything you say you believe in except yourself. It would be a gracious and inspiring gesture. It would be a different way to serve your country – and might even revive our faith in Yankee integrity.

    No. It would be neither a gracious or inspiring gesture.

    Should Jeb! exit the race and endorse Rubio (after the Jeb! attacks on Rubio), he will merely harden the prevailing cynicism about career political dynasties, that words carry no truth or meaning except as means to particular political ends.

    When the time comes, Jeb! should exit, and say nothing.

    • #6
  7. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Jeb Bush is looking like an underdog to me. It’s making me feel defensive about him.

    The constant personal attacks are really getting on my nerves.

    He has the right to run for president. He is qualified, and he has the support of some people in the party.

    • #7
  8. wmartin Member
    wmartin
    @

    I wish I understood the “Marco is just so wonderful” brigades. Is a robotic neocon talking-points generator really the answer we’re looking for?

    “You seem to believe, as many of us do, that in order to prosper, in fact, in order to survive, the Republican Party must look beyond its aging, white, rural, and evangelical Christian core to welcome African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, urbanites, and the young. Yet by attacking Rubio, you are attempting to sabotage the very best messenger the Republican Party has found in decades.

    I would be willing to bet that, if nominated, Marco Rubio will get less of the latino vote than Bush did in 2004 (around 40%), and will not match Mitt Romney’s 59% of the white vote.

    • #8
  9. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Powerful post, Mona.

    • #9
  10. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Spin:The letter should be shorter. It should say, just: “Go away and leave us alone.”

    Not sure that is what she is trying to convey. I think the real point of this article is “Waaah! Leave little Marco alone!”

    • #10
  11. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    MarciN:Jeb Bush is looking like an attacked underdog to me. It’s making me feel defensive about him.

    The constant personal attacks are really getting on my nerves.

    He has the right to run for president. He is qualified, and he has the support of some people in the party.

    I’m thinking about voting for him because I don’t see the difference between Rubio and Bush, and at least Jeb Bush has some executive experience.

    The difference is (Republicans can only win by acting like Democrats) Mike Murphy.  That alone is reason enough not to vote for Jeb.

    • #11
  12. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    wmartin: I would be willing to bet that, if nominated, Marco Rubio will get less of the latino vote than Bush did in 2004 (around 40%), and will not match Mitt Romney’s 59% of the white vote.

    How much would you like to put on that?

    • #12
  13. JohnnieAlum13 Inactive
    JohnnieAlum13
    @JohnnieAlum13

    I think we can all agree. Jeb! looks like he needs a hug.

    • #13
  14. wmartin Member
    wmartin
    @

    Concretevol:

    wmartin: I would be willing to bet that, if nominated, Marco Rubio will get less of the latino vote than Bush did in 2004 (around 40%), and will not match Mitt Romney’s 59% of the white vote.

    How much would you like to put on that?

    Hell, I don’t know…

    • #14
  15. Frozen Chosen Inactive
    Frozen Chosen
    @FrozenChosen

    I have no problem with Jeb running his hopeless campaign as long as he wants but his constant attacks against Rubio are pathetic. Since Nothern Iowa is in the Minneapolis TV market I saw the commercials over and over. It appears that the attacks backfired in Iowa – hopefully they will in NH as well

    BTW, Romney’s looking pretty smart to sit this one out since he probably wouldn’t have won the nomination either in this crazy election cycle.

    • #15
  16. The Beard of Avon Inactive
    The Beard of Avon
    @TheBeardofAvon

    Please clap.

    http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/watch/jeb-bush-please-clap-615049795765

    • #16
  17. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Concretevol:

    wmartin: I would be willing to bet that, if nominated, Marco Rubio will get less of the latino vote than Bush did in 2004 (around 40%), and will not match Mitt Romney’s 59% of the white vote.

    How much would you like to put on that?

    In which category will you be counting White Latinos?

    • #17
  18. Peter Robinson Contributor
    Peter Robinson
    @PeterRobinson

    Here’s what I don’t get: How can Mona be so gracious, so warm–and yet so utterly devastating? (Note to self: Whatever you do, stay on Mona’s good side.)

    • #18
  19. Brian Watt Inactive
    Brian Watt
    @BrianWatt

    Beautifully stated, Mona.

    • #19
  20. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Limestone Cowboy:

    No. It would be neither a gracious or inspiring gesture.

    Should Jeb! exit the race and endorse Rubio (after the Jeb! attacks on Rubio), he will merely harden the prevailing cynicism about career political dynasties, that words carry no truth or meaning except as means to particular political ends.

    When the time comes, Jeb! should exit, and say nothing.

    Agreed. But if Jeb really takes Rubio’s campaign as personally as rumored it’s a theoretical argument.

    Who would he endorse, otherwise? Kasich or Christie, if one of them looked credible after NH. Or… Ted Cruz?

    If it’s a three-way race, and he actually did want to make a relevant endorsement, we know it won’t be Trump. He may or may not be as bitter against Rubio as advertised, but he couldn’t make that endorsement without embarrassment. We know Jeb’s actually willing to support the anti-establishment guy (ask Charlie Crist). Has he ever actually clashed with Cruz? Counterintuitive, but maybe just possible?

    • #20
  21. Jim Kearney Contributor
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    If Jeb doesn’t run in the Florida primary — and pull every string he’s got in the state to win — he will leave the race in shame, and appear politically impotent, an Edsel joke in waiting for the late night comics.

    Florida happens in the first week of winner-take-all primaries. It’s likely Jeb’s entire strategy was based on doing respectably in New Hampshire, then winning Florida.

    He can position Florida as a choice between a doer and a talker, judged by the voters who know them best. It’s his one chance to cut his protege down to size.

    That same day Kasich could win 66 delegates in Ohio. A match between two successful Republican Governors is the contest Bush probably envisioned. Without them still in play, the much ballyhooed “strong field” of 2016 becomes a race among media stars (telegenic Rubio; talk radio favorite Cruz; and transmedia superstar Donald) without political leadership resumes.

    Why let the one term Senator from his home state run on a foreign policy which was developed in Bush’s own family? Why let it come down to the rookie Senator Rubio or a couple of outsiders who Bush sees as cranks. I just don’t see him doing it.

    • #21
  22. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    As for Bush himself, at this point all I have to say is to paraphrase:  You have run too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you.

    That is sad, because had he graciously dropped out weeks ago he could have kept my respect. He took the opposite path.

    • #22
  23. Duane Oyen Member
    Duane Oyen
    @DuaneOyen

    And, of course, Mike Murphy’s ego would not be able to take it.

    Jeb blew his chance at the WH when he blew the 1994 Florida election, followed by his brother winning in 2000.   Some things are not meant to be.

    Period.

    • #23
  24. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    Leigh:As for Bush himself, at this point all I have to say is to paraphrase: You have run too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you.

    That is sad, because had he graciously dropped out weeks ago he could have kept my respect. He took the opposite path.

    I always love a good “Cromwell excoriating the Long Parliament” paraphrase.

    • #24
  25. Mona Charen Contributor
    Mona Charen
    @MonaCharen

    Peter Robinson:Here’s what I don’t get: How can Mona be so gracious, so warm–and yet so utterly devastating? (Note to self: Whatever you do, stay on Mona’s good side.)

    If I were ever on Peter’s bad side, I would know it was time for a U-turn!

    • #25
  26. Mona Charen Contributor
    Mona Charen
    @MonaCharen

    Leigh:As for Bush himself, at this point all I have to say is to paraphrase: You have run too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you.

    That is sad, because had he graciously dropped out weeks ago he could have kept my respect. He took the opposite path.

    I hear ya.

    • #26
  27. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    Conspiracy theory ahead:

    Jeb has wanted to drop out of the race for months now, but is being secretly paid by Mike Murphy to stay in so that the Murphy/Right to Rise gravy train can milk its entire war chest.

    • #27
  28. PsychLynne Inactive
    PsychLynne
    @PsychLynne

    Random thoughts (that are not T. Sowell quality : )

    Mona, your graciousness is Southern woman worthy.

    Why does Jeb hate Rubio?  Betrayal.  and betrayal trumps Trump

    My undergrad economics professor taught us the phrase “sunk costs are sunk.”  People stick with bad investments because of what they’ve already lost.  To Jeb and his campaign I would say “sunk costs are sunk” don’t let what you’ve invested stop you from making a wise decision now.

    • #28
  29. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Mona Charen:

    Leigh:As for Bush himself, at this point all I have to say is to paraphrase: You have run too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you.

    That is sad, because had he graciously dropped out weeks ago he could have kept my respect. He took the opposite path.

    I hear ya.

    If he had dropped out even in late October and said “I cannot unite this party this year, and it is time for me to step aside and let the party find the right candidate to lead us next year,” I genuinely would have respected that. Instead, he’s stubbornly held on and played petty politics.

    • #29
  30. Tom Wilson Inactive
    Tom Wilson
    @TomWilson

    Well said Mona.
    I like Jeb. He might have made a fine president, he was a fine governor, but the American people were never going to allow one family to have three presidents. That’s a fact Jeb has yet to come to grips with. Going forward with his campaign and attacking Rubio will deepen the harm he’s already done to his legacy. I wish his family would give him the council he needs to see this. I don’t expect his paid campaign advisors to have such grace.

    • #30
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