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18/12/2014 | Jeb Bush and 2016

The Economist Staff

JEB BUSH, a former governor of Florida, son and brother of presidents, once said that he would mount his own White House bid only if he could do it “joyfully”. After months of speculation, on December 16th Mr Bush announced his decision to “actively explore the possibility” of running for president in 2016.

That half-entry into the race will trigger a torrent of analysis about what sort of Republican Mr Bush is. Those who remember his time running Florida from 1999 to 2007 recall a stern fiscal and social conservative, who cut billions of dollars from state tax receipts and passed a welter of pro-gun laws.

 

More recently he has been a spokesman for his party’s pragmatic, pro-business wing. He is known for two positions, above all, that enrage conservative hardliners: his support for the nationwide education standards known as Common Core (seen on the right as a liberal plot), and his belief that Republicans must embrace comprehensive immigration reform with enthusiasm and compassion, or face long-term irrelevance. Expect much punditry about his surname and how purists on the right see the Bush family as big-government apostates, while the left thinks his older brother, George W. Bush, is something close to a war criminal.

In truth, Jeb Bush has not moved very much—it is his party that has headed off towards the doctrinaire right, with the grassroots and their tribunes in the Tea Party seeking to purge Republican ranks of those deemed insufficiently pure. And it is rather late for the 61-year-old second son of George H.W. Bush to do much about his surname. A more interesting question may well involve the ex-governor’s joyfulness test, and whether a fresh Bush campaign would be a cheering, uplifting business, or a hard, expensive, bitter slog.

Mr Bush speaks sense when he talks of the need for Republicans to compromise occasionally, if they want to govern. A few weeks before Christmas he told a summit of chief executive officers that a Republican presidential candidate in 2016 might have to adopt a “lose the primary to win the general” strategy. That is code for running from start to finish on policies that can win some centrist and independent votes, rather than following the pivot strategy attempted by such figures as Mitt Romney. To win the 2012 presidential nomination Mr Romney declared himself “severely conservative” and called for laws so tough that immigrants would despair and deport themselves. Too late, he tried to tack back to his real interest: business-friendly policies to fix the economy.

Mr Bush’s counsel is brave: many Republican members of Congress, governors and other officials only dare cheer him on silently. But for all that, an unmistakable rebuke lurked in his statement. Put another way, Mr Bush was signalling that the dedicated bands of grassroots activists who decide many party primaries are a menace. Even if he is right, that is quite a box to crack open. Bluntly, many of the business bosses, big donors and establishment Republicans who have spent years longing for Mr Bush to run do not just disagree with the conservative grassroots, they dislike them and resent their influence. The antipathy is mutual: perhaps no other candidate for 2016 so angers Tea Party types.

It is not even certain that Mr Bush would greatly enjoy seeking his party’s nomination. More than once in recent years he has given speeches to conservative political gatherings that fell flat, or sounded like a chore. The Republican Party is not just divided, it resembles a deeply unhappy family. Uniting it will be a labour of love.

Assuming that Mr Bush does run, there will be time enough for him to stake out his policy positions, and how he differs from other establishment-friendly types who might also make a bid for the White House, from Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey to Mr Romney (in some Republican circles, a new Romney run is the rumour that will not die). Pragmatists murmur that even activists will be so desperate to win in 2016 that they will pick someone sensible. Maybe, but Mr Bush exposes painful divisions and animosities like no other candidate. That matters. If his candidacy feels at all joyless, it will be doomed.

The Economist (Reino Unido)

 



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27/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
11/01/2009|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
23/11/2008|
23/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
22/08/2008|
22/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
24/05/2008|
24/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
29/04/2008|
11/02/2008|
05/01/2008|
09/12/2007|
18/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/09/2007|
26/08/2007|
25/08/2007|
11/07/2007|
16/06/2007|
16/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
24/04/2007|
24/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
28/02/2007|
28/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
17/11/2006|
30/09/2006|
28/07/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
06/03/2006|
21/02/2006|
17/02/2006|
31/01/2006|
10/01/2006|
28/12/2005|
31/10/2005|
26/09/2005|
29/08/2005|
11/08/2005|
08/08/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|

ver + notas
 
Center for the Study of the Presidency
Freedom House