Jeb Bush will become a candidate for President, from all indications, and in our view he has to be considered the frontrunner.
Any remaining doubts about his intentions were dispelled by his appearance yesterday in Washington at the annual meeting of the Wall Street Journal CEO Council. He ticked off the correct middle-of-the-road positions: an “all-in” energy policy that expands the use of the nation’s natural resources; a reduction in business regulations; a simpler tax code; an “economically driven” overhaul of the immigration system; and a “radical transformation” of the education system. Jeb said he will make up his mind about running “in short order”. His decision will rest, he averred, on whether he has “the skills to do it in a way that tries to lift people’s spirits and not get sucked into the vortex.” (WSJ 12/2).
Bush received a warm reception from the big-money guys and he was seated next to Rupert Murdoch at dinner. To me, it looks like a done deal–as long as Rupert signals Roger Ailes to muzzle the hounds.
Up to now, a barrier to Jeb’s candidacy had been the lack of enthusiasm from his mama Barbara and his wife Columba. My sources say both ladies have now come around to accepting the rigors and life-changing aspects of going for and possibly winning the presidency. His father and brother have been onboard all along.
“Since Jeb was in diapers, he was raised to be president,” a close friend of the Bush family told me this morning. “Even though he’s seven years younger than George, he was the chosen politician in the family. Then, in 1994, they both ran for governor. W beat Ann Richards and Jeb narrowly lost in Florida. So W became first in line for 2000. Most people who know them have always thought Jeb is more politically shrewd”.
We will find out if and when John Ellis Bush (JEB) throws his sombrero into the ring. Married to a Mexican for forty years, he would be the first “Latino president”. (“Jeb even thinks in Spanish,” I am told.)
What are his strengths? His service as Florida’s governor (1999-2007) was deemed successful; he’s found the “sweet spot” in that he’s conservative enough to win the GOP nomination yet moderate enough to be elected; he projects an air of poise and confidence; and he’s managed to establish his own identity, distinct from any baggage associated with Bushes 41 and 43. [Can you visualize a Hillary existing without a Bill? Don’t answer that.]
With Jeb in the field as the establishment candidate, there’s less likelihood that Romney or Christie will get backing to run. Mitt had his shot, twice, and he blew it. Christie’s dark side is hard for him to contain and his vicious tongue makes Don Rickles look like Mr. Rogers. Plus, the Jersey pol has more skeletons in the closet than there are in Forest Lawn.
Marco Rubio is cancelled out because Jeb has the Florida machers locked down. Rubio’s time will come.
That leaves Rand Paul, an attractive guy whose libertarian views are too exotic for courthouse Republicans. I predict the right and the extreme right will coalesce around Ted Cruz, and in the final stretch of the primaries, Jeb and Ted will go head-to-head (Finally, we’ll see a national debate with both candidates speaking in Spanish.) ORB SAYS: If the Republicans want to win, they will nominate Bush.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Hillary has a glass ceiling of 43 percent and she’ll never assemble a majority in a general election. Unless a 3d-party conservative drains votes from the Republican (as Perot did in ’92), we’ll see history made on January 20, 2017, when the third person from one family takes the oath of office.
Things could change between now and then. But unless they do, as a philosopher once said, “It’s like deja vu all over again.”
* * *
When Her Tushy Isn’t Cushy, She Heads for the Exit
Anyone who has ever been bored at a Broadway show and escaped at intermission will enjoy “Confessions of a Broadway Bolter” in today’s WSJ (12/2).
Culture reporter Joanne Kaufman gets comp tickets to everything, so she knows what she likes and votes with her feet: “There’s a risk in leaving early, of course, not the least of which is being spotted and caught out by the press agent who provided me with the tickets in the first place. There are only so many times one can claim appendicitis or labor pains, or indignantly claim to be the victim of mistaken identity.”
ORB loves a girl who names names and Ms. Kaufman graciously points out the current stinkers: “Last week I saw half of three Broadway shows. Intermissions came and I went. I bailed first on ‘The Last Ship’. The lights had barely come up at the end of the tedious first act–think ‘Sinky Boats’–when I looked at my husband and we went out the exit, thrilled to breathe the sweet air of West 52d street. O, Sting, where is thy depth?”
“I’m embarrassed by how unembarrassed I am to admit that the very next night, I took early leave of ‘The Country House’, and the following night of ‘It’s Only a Play’. If only. Don’t ask me what happened during the second acts of ‘Matilda’, ‘Kinky Boots’ and ‘Pippin’. Really, I have no idea.”
Joanne doesn’t hate everything: “I sat happily and raptly through ‘August: Osage County’ and, just last month, through the superlative ‘Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’, both of which clocked in at almost three hours.” And she was “sufficiently captivated by ‘Here Lies Love’ that I stood through it–actually, danced through it — twice.” [‘Here Lies Love” is the story of Imelda Marcos, told to disco music. Are your feet twitching already?]
Good reporter that she is, Ms. Kaufman says the actor Richard Kind “was remarkably forbearing about the estimated 30%–‘or maybe even 50%’–of the audience that departed the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor where he starred this summer in Tom Stoppard’s intellectually demanding comedy ‘Travesties’.”
Shrugged Mr. Kind, “Who wants to see that when you have chicken skewers waiting at home?”