“Can you smell the Aqua Velva!”: Why Jeb Bush is this year’s Fred Thompson

,  Salon

GOP and media insiders are obsessed with another “perfect” candidate. Here’s what they’re missing — yet again.

So the suspense is almost over. Jeb Bush has finally announced that he is officially thinking that he might explore the possibility of maybe running for president. Feel the magic, the Bush is back. I confess that I’m still skeptical. There’s just something missing from Jeb’s demeanor, a certain fire, that one usually sees in serious presidential candidates. But one can certainly see why he’d do it anyway.

First, there seems to have been a full-court family press and in his family that’s got to feel like facing a firing squad. After all, somebody has to rescue the family legacy and he’s all they’ve got left. Poppy was pretty much driven out of office by his own party for raising taxes at a time when Newt Gingrich and his revolutionaries were turning over the Beltway barricades. Junior tried to reverse Poppy’s legacy by making gigantic tax cuts for the rich his immediate priority but then he mucked up the family legacy in Iraq and left office with the lowest approval ratings on record. And, needless to say, there is the unfinished business of putting the Clintons in their places once and for all. No matter how much they all embrace each other as “family” today, the Bushes bear grudges. Beating Hillary would finally even that score.

On the practical side, the family also understands something else: The only way that Jeb can possibly finesse the dynasty issue is if there is another dynastic scion on the other side. Sure, everyone will complain about it, but neither side would be disadvantaged by the perception that rather than following the normal processes of a democratic Republic, the two major parties seem to be run by competing houses of noble blood. Imagine if yet another Bush were running against a new face in the Democratic Party? The odds wouldn’t be nearly as good.

And finally, they think Jeb can win. As George W. told Candy Crowley just this weekend, with his characteristic arrogance, “Yeah, I think he’d beat ‘er.” And it appears that much of establishment Washington is beside itself at the prospect of the “grown-ups” once again coming to town. The Washington Post’s  Ruth Marcus is convinced that Jeb is the one guy to bring sexy back to the GOP:

Even the notion that Bush is seriously considering running — his son told ABC’s Jonathan Karl that it is “more than likely” — is a comforting sign. Jeb Bush is not naive about the GOP’s loony tendencies and the distorted ideological landscape of its nominating process. For him to be weighing the race indicates that he believes those extremist instincts can be tamed.


Make no mistake: Bush is a conservative. But he is a conservative who believes in the role and capacity of government and in the imperative of bipartisan cooperation..

And this is why a Bush candidacy would be good for the country as well. A saner Republican Party would produce saner, more productive politics.

Yes, we could once again have the productive politics that produced huge tax cuts for millionaires and invaded countries that didn’t attack us. Maybe he could really pick up where his brother left off and oversee a housing bubble and financial crisis and finally bring the world economy fully to its knees. Lord knows, that Bush brand of “sane” Republicanism that decided the U.S. needed to “take the gloves off” is sorely needed today. And hey, Cheney looks pretty energetic and vital these days; defending torture has given him a new lease on life. And Rummy’s at liberty, I’m sure, so maybe they could get the whole band back together.

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