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

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

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.

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.

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Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Roy Everson on 02/09/2016 - 03:06 pm.

    How to measure?

    If the Florida statewide testing system is a barometer, I’d give the point to Trump.

  2. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/09/2016 - 03:14 pm.

    Says more about voters

    than it does about Jeb Bush.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/09/2016 - 04:36 pm.


      The voters on both sides seem to want revolution…

      Maybe they have spent so much time watching Survivor, Big Brother, Wrestle Mania, etc, that they think politics and policy should be like that.

      • Submitted by Howard Miller on 02/12/2016 - 08:18 pm.


        … maybe they’re tired of hearing how the economy is recovering, strengthening, but it hasn’t put an extra dollar in their wallets. Maybe they’re tired of how the wealthiest among us – the “Wall Street” folks – have so much influence in government, while people on Main Street seem forgotten when laws are written and passed. The consistent theme – from 2 small states – is that economic inequality is a raw nerve nationally. We’ll see.

  3. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 02/09/2016 - 06:59 pm.

    Barbara Bush said it best

    Barbara Bush said in 2013 the only thing she has ever said that I can agree with. When she found out JEB wanted to run for the Presidency she said, “We’ve had enough Bushes'”. She was right on the mark and proof of her statement is showing up in JEBs totally flat campaigning style. When you have to ask people to clap for you you know you have the wrong message.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/09/2016 - 09:08 pm.

      But with half the vote in

      in New Hampshire, Bush appears to be tied with Cruz for second.
      Trump leads with about a third of the votes
      Depending on who drops out and how their votes get redistributed, Bush could still manage a respectable second, and still has a chance as a consensus nominee if Trump can’t pick up enough additional votes for a majority.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/10/2016 - 09:33 am.


        If there was only one GOP establishment candidate, and assuming those kinds of voters aren’t ready to shift to Trump or Cruz, it seems that individual would be easily leading.

        I wonder when or if the establishment candidates will ever swallow their pride and get behind one of their own, or if they will keep in fighting until they lose the chance.

        Personally I would like to see either Kasich or Bush get the nod. Rubio probably should mature for another decade and Christie seems too angry…

  4. Submitted by Brian Simon on 02/10/2016 - 11:45 am.

    The psychology of backing a winner?

    Is the trump phenomenon just a manifestation of of the idea that people want to back a winner? We’ve seen in past elections where candidates have to build a critical mass of supporters before people consider voting for them. The third party example is where it often happens “I like candidate X, but it’s a wasted vote so I’ll pick the D or R.”

    Is the logjam of establishment candidates driving voters to pick the “winner” trump over Cruz or their preferred candidate? “I like Rubio/Bush/Kasich, but Cruz scares the hell out of me so I’m voting trump.”

  5. Submitted by Jim Million on 02/11/2016 - 09:39 am.

    Eric, I agree…

    Jeb truly does appear to be a “dud.” I don’t know if Christie was his surrogate in nailing Rubio during the debate, but I’d put a dollar on that bet. I don’t know how Christie got set up beside Rubio, but it sure afforded the network a great two-shot. Jeb gained and Christie lost from that strategy…and is now gone as of yesterday.

    It does seem Jeb clearly forces himself to “act” emotionally, based on my theatrical training. It does not play well on TV, but perhaps on the stump. Any display of outrage appears as measured as that of a Cambridge don.

    I also read that Bush people spent $10M in NH to degrade Rubio. How much of that went to Christie’s annuity has not been disclosed.

  6. Submitted by Jim Million on 02/14/2016 - 11:35 am.

    CBS Debate

    Last night demonstrated at least two important points:

    CBS had no “moderator,” just a shallow guy encouraging a dog fight.

    Jeb Bush is a lousy candidate and a bad actor.

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