If you thought that the Bush family was capable of some degree of humility and contrition considering how they brought us the debacle in Iraq, this report from the Wall Street Journal should completely disabuse you of that notion.
Jeb Bush is crisscrossing the country on a 60-event fundraising blitz aimed at raising enough money to give other Republicans second thoughts about entering the race.
The fundraising effort, which Mr. Bush’s team has dubbed a “shock and awe’’ campaign, could be particularly meaningful for Mitt Romney , who is competing with Mr. Bush for support from the same small circle of longtime Republican donors.
The lack of self-awareness is bad enough. After all, the initial “shock and awe” campaign did not cow opponents in Iraq but led to a nasty insurgency and ultimately a failed campaign to make Iraq a protectorate of the United States. The corollary here would be that Jeb raises so much money that he assumes it will force his rivals out of the race only to discover that he was delusional and has no plan for what to do when his opponents do not quit.
Byron York isn’t even convinced that Jeb will be able to raise enough money to scare anyone.
5. The Bush family network isn’t as strong as some believe. There has been much talk of the vaunted Bush political machine, which is said to give Jeb Bush a big advantage even before the 2016 race officially begins. Jeb Bush himself has been calling donors and has told some of them that he hopes they will again support “the family.” But the fact is, it has been a while since the Bush machine was in operation here in Iowa. It was last up and running in 2004, for the re-election of George W. Bush, and last at work for the caucuses in 2000, for W’s first run. For the 2016 race, that means the machine has been out of action for a long time. Many Bush donors from 2000 and 2004 became Romney donors in 2008 and 2012. They have conflicted loyalties, and not all of them will rejoin the family.
I think it’s safe to say that Jeb won’t be able to scare Mitt Romney away based on fundraising alone, and also that they will divide most of the big donor base between them. Still, once some of the governors get a load of the haul Bush has brought in by doing 60 events, they may realize that they can’t compete.
Some candidates will run, not to win, but to boost their profile. This could be either to advance their private sector careers or to position themselves for a future political run for higher office. A smaller group may believe that running for the nomination and competing in the debates are the best ways to get themselves on the short list for the vice-presidential slot. Jeb’s fundraising isn’t going to deter these candidates no matter how mind-blowing it is.
But governors like John Kasich of Ohio, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and Chris Christie of New Jersey may not feel that they have to run for the nomination in order to be considered for the short list of vice-presidential contenders. Their profiles are high enough that running for and losing the nomination could hurt more than it helps.
In any case, if anyone is going to emerge other than Bush and Romney, they’ll have to raise a lot of money. Otherwise, the best they’ll do is to replicate Rick Santorum’s 2012 performance where he was able to win some states but couldn’t exploit his victories because he lacked the money to fund a viable national organization.
That might be comforting if you’re concerned that a real wingnut might become the Republican Party’s standard bearer, but talking about “shock and awe” in a positive way as part of a concerted plan?
Jeb ain’t much better than George, that’s for sure.