Jeb Bush knows that the nation is wary of putting another Bush in the White House, so why is he considering a run for president? That’s a question that many are asking, even as Republican donors are reportedly trying to draft the former Florida governor for 2016 after Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) became a less viable candidate.
Nevermind that Jeb Bush would have a tough time convincing Americans to elect another member of his family for president. Sure, each candidate rises and falls on his or her own merits, but there’s no question that the “Bush brand” was damaged after George W. Bush’s presidency, making Barack Obama’s ascendence to the Oval Office a possibility.
Regardless of how the nation views President Obama as it approaches the 2016 cycle, Jeb Bush would have a hard time overcoming voter fatigue with his family. This is a reason why Christopher Caldwell recently wrote that the Republican donors working behind the scenes to draft him “are nuts.”
Bush will have problems with Republican Party’s conservative base, something that has already become apparent after his comments on immigration. His backing of Common Core education standards is also a nonstarter with grassroots activists.
It’s worth noting that Bush was a decent governor, at least from a fiscal perspective. Yes, he had his faults, especially in his second term when he let spending rise at a faster pace than previous years. “The basic story from the Cato reports is that Jeb Bush was a prolific tax cutter, but he let spending rise quickly toward the end of his tenure,” writes Chris Edwards. “Like George W. Bush, Jeb was good on taxes, but apparently not so good on spending.”
But the next president will have to address some of the fundamental problems with the federal budget, specifically entitlements, the biggest drivers of spending. To his credit, then-President George W. Bush tried to push some minor Social Security reforms in 2005. But he also expanded an entitlement, adding a prescription drug benefit to Medicare.
Whether Jeb Bush is up to the task, obviously, remains to be seen, but he hasn’t said much about entitlements in public appearances. Other potential Republican presidential candidates — think Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) — will undoubtedly make entitlement reform a centerpiece of their campaigns.
Another concerning aspect of a Jeb Bush candidacy is his positions on foreign policy. He’ll have to set himself apart from his brother by highlighting areas of disagreement. But there’s no question that he still buys into the general approach to foreign policy that his brother took, a view that is fundamentally inconsistent with limited government.
Look, for example, at the recent Time Magazine piece on an event hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition. Jeb Bush was among those who “laid into” Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) noninterventionist foreign policy views.
What Jeb Bush’s candidacy would mean is that Republican donors aren’t willing to rock the boat. The former Florida government may be more policy-driven than his older brother, but he still represents the status quo. If Republicans believe that they can sneak in another stale nominee after an unpopular Obama presidency, they’re not going to be happy on November 8, 2016.