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Why Jeb’s a dud — and The Donald isn’t

Jeb Bush is too moderate (at least in style), too thoughtful and too dull to fit the times.

Jeb Bush is too moderate (at least in style), too thoughtful, too dull to fit the times.
REUTERS

Stu Rothenberg posted Tuesday morning a piece titled: “What Happened to Jeb Bush?”

(Most of the Rothenberg and Gonzales Political Report is behind a paywall, so you may not be able to read it.)

I guess not everyone is ready give up on Jeb!, the candidate who, when he announced, was the presumptive frontrunner for the Repub nomination, but Rothenberg pretty much is. He writes that “even if [Bush] happens to surprise observers with a strong finish in New Hampshire, it is very difficult to see him as his party’s nominee.”

Bush is too moderate (at least in style), too thoughtful, too dull to fit the times. His personality doesn’t fit the needs of a crowded debate stage dominated by the bizarre booming personality of Donald Trump. But my favorite part of Rothenberg’s piece was a comparison of Bush and Trump, talking about education policy.

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Rothenberg recalled an event in Florida years ago, the first time he saw Bush, who was then governor. From the audience at the event came a request that Bush talk about education reform.

“Sure,” said the governor without hesitation, getting up quickly and walking to the podium. He wasted little time jumping into a discussion of his education reform agenda, offering thoughtful, policy-filled comments about the challenges the state faced in education and ideas about what Florida could do.

I don’t remember any of the details of his presentation, but I do recall my impressions of him. Bush sounded smart, serious and enthusiastic. He showed energy and passion. He was entirely comfortable talking policy. And he knew his numbers.

Then Rothenberg recounts what happened when someone he knows had an occasion in New Hampshire to ask Trump about the same topic. It went like this:

“What are your thoughts about education?” the man asked Trump, giving the candidate plenty of freedom to address the subject any way that he wanted.

“I love education,” roared Trump effusively, according to the questioner. “And when I’m president, I’ll make it even better.”  Trump then observed that teachers love him. And he noted that he attended the highly regarded Wharton school.