Why Jeb?

 
1200px-Jeb_Bush_by_Gage_Skidmore_5

Jeb Bush by Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0

I never took Jeb Bush’s campaign seriously because it seemed like such an obviously bad idea: Bush hadn’t been elected to office in nearly a decade, during which time he’d made a name for himself by championing a singularly unpopular education policy (Common Core) and admonishing the party on the one issue it had previously shown itself willing to go into full opposition on (illegal immigration). Moreover, there’s the whole business of his last name, about which… well, I hardly need say more. As many predicted, his lead evaporated upon contact with voters and his $155M war chest earned him not a single delegate. And while I can’t say this with certainty, I’m confident that things wouldn’t have panned out very differently for Bush if Donald Trump hadn’t run (how Trump’s candidacy would have fared without Bush is an interesting question). Republican voters just weren’t hankering for another Bush, let alone Jeb.

Regardless, something convinced a few thousand relatively-wealthy voters to part with an average of $26,600 each in the name of nominating Jeb Bush. This might make sense if Bush had been the only hawkish immigration squish, but there’s also this guy named Marco Rubio and I gather he was available. In short, the donors’ behavior makes no sense to me, either from a principled or a cynical viewpoint. As Megan McArdle put it last week in a postmortem on the primaries:

I have nothing against Bush as a man or a governor. But his decision to run for president in this cycle has to rank as one of the stupidest political bids of all time [… S]omehow, Jeb Bush not only threw his hat in the ring, but also managed to convince Republican donors to come along for the ride. To Bush, I am sympathetic. His brother gets unfair blame for things that are not really his fault, and it can be hard to see yourself, or your family, with the crystal clarity of an outsider. The Republican donors have no such excuse. These folks suddenly and for no apparent reason decided that it would be a great idea to donate a hundred million dollars to the cause of running a completely hopeless establishment candidate. And as soon as it became clear he couldn’t win, they incinerated the remainder of the bundle taking down Rubio, the only candidate who could plausibly unite enough of the party’s factions to stop Trump at the voting booth. When those donors are sitting in their living rooms, wondering how on earth their beloved party has come to this pass, I invite them to get up and take a long look in the nearest mirror.

Can anybody offer a credible explanation as to why this happened? These donors are many things, but they’re generally not stupid.

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  1. Vald the Misspeller Inactive
    Vald the Misspeller
    @ValdtheMisspeller

    Son of Spengler:

    Vald the Misspeller:

    MarciN: IHe would have Bern a qtrat president

    nuqjatlh?

    MarciN: New smartphone

    Does it know any languages beside Klingon? You know, like English.

    Jealous that she might steal your epithet?

    It appears I’ve been replaced by technology.

    • #31
  2. Vald the Misspeller Inactive
    Vald the Misspeller
    @ValdtheMisspeller

    Greg Dick: It’s easy to second guess now, but at the time — if what Murphy says is true — you can’t blame the donors for trying to win an election by following the then conventional wisdom and putting a boatload of money behind their guy.

    Can I blame them for believing Mike Murphy?

    • #32
  3. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Can anybody offer a credible explanation as to why this happened? These donors are many things, but they’re generally not stupid.

    They listened to and believed these two geniuses knew what they were talking about …

    mikemurphyrove

    jeb_clap

    Please clap …..

    • #33
  4. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Do you believe the message on the whiteboard, Columbo?

    rove

     

    • #34
  5. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    James Of England:Do you believe the message on the whiteboard, Columbo?

    rove

    The Myth of the Stay-at-Home Republicans

    Regardless of what I believe, Turdblossom spent way too much money on too few votes with the same kind of mushy messaging that Jeb! ran on in 2016. To be honest, I just picked the pic out of a host of options of Rove & his magical whiteboard, not really thinking about what was on the whiteboard itself …

    • #35
  6. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Columbo:

    James Of England:Do you believe the message on the whiteboard, Columbo?

    rove

    The Myth of the Stay-at-Home Republicans

    Regardless of what I believe, Turdblossom spent way too much money on too few votes with the same kind of mushy messaging that Jeb! ran on in 2016. To be honest, I just picked the pic out of a host of options of Rove & his magical whiteboard, not really thinking about what was on the whiteboard itself …

    I agree that Rove got too few votes. I don’t think he spent too much money; the election was in the balance until after the vast bulk of the money was committed. I also don’t think that either Romney’s or Jeb!’s messaging was particularly mushy or ineffective; Jeb!’s money was spent on negative ads, which had a powerful effect, while Romney was able to get a uniquely high proportion of Catholics, rural whites, and other key demographics that then stayed with the party. We got converts.

    • #36
  7. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    PHenry: Whatever Trumps negatives, and I agree they are daunting, he has at least temporarily shown that the base still has weapons at their disposal. The question is whether the donor class are still too arrogant to show the will of the base any respect. I’m not seeing it so far.

    Silence, peasant.

    • #37
  8. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Mike Hubbard: Perhaps the better lesson of 2016 is that Super PAC funds cannot replace a candidate who connects with voters.

    As you and PHenry allude, this was the fight.

    If the GOP wins without the base, the base is dead, and the GOP melds into an unassailable power structure designed by progressives. If, on the other hand, the base is able to stuff the GOP hard, leaving fingerprints all over it, then there’s a chance

    This is why Jeb! had such an odd campaign.

    • #38
  9. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Perhaps it was entrepreneurs all the way down.  The same people who got to pay themselves for spending the money convinced easily manipulated Jeb to run and convinced easily fleeced donors to donate.   It worked.  They milked a bunch of people and helped destroy the Republican party.  It’s the only rational explanation, but then who expects reason?

    • #39
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