It is likely that if the 43rd Governor of Florida had the name Jeb Pierce (his mother’s maiden name) rather than that shared with his father the 41st President and his brother the 43rd President; Jeb would be firmly positioned as the Republican frontrunner for 2012. Yet he has been sidelined for the most part because of questions as to how much impact his family’s history would have on a run for president.
In 2000, the second term Governor of Texas was propelled into the frontrunner position largely as a result of his family’s political brand. In the wake of the 1992 presidential election many Americans felt George H. W. Bush was unjustly denied a second term as President. His handling of the presidency was regarded as skillful and his foreign policy achievements considerable. More significantly from a political perspective, the Bush Brand was seen as trustworthy and a moral contrast to the Clinton years. George W. Bush was immediately positioned as a leader who could restore the Presidency. Additionally his performance as Governor of Texas showed an ability of a Conservative to work with the opposition and to attract Hispanic voters to the Republican Party. The 2000 election was in no small way a 1992 do-over.
Yet even in 2000 there were those who found the question of a political dynasty to be problematic. To be clear, much of this was the left wing media who were troubled with a Republican family achieving multi-generational success while longing for the Liberal Kennedy’s to restore Camelot. Indeed considering Prescott S. Bush was the two term Republican Senator for Connecticut, the three generation achievements of the Bush family had already established it as America’s leading political family. For the most part this concern was confined to the leftist conspiracy blogs and embittered journalists who never liked the Bush Family.
Less reported was the tarnished view of many Conservatives towards the Bush family. Dating back to the 1980 presidential campaign, George H. W. Bush was viewed skeptically by the right given his views on abortion (a flip flop), the perception of his as a north eastern country club Republican and his betrayal of his 1988 campaign pledge to not raise taxes. May conservatives were troubled by George W. Bush’s claim to be a “Compassionate Conservative” and the subtle implication that prior conservative in some way lacked compassion. This was compounded by the memory of the 41st Presidents inaugural address promising a “kinder and gentler” America, a perceived swipe at Ronald Reagan.
Today Jeb will be burdened with the evolving mixed legacy of the 43rd President, a legacy he will forever be inexorably tied to given his role ad Florida Governor in the contested 2000 presidential election. To be blunt, the legacy of George W. Bush is complicated. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are politically as divisive as any issue in a quarter century. From the left would come a firestorm and their friends in the main stream media would stoke the flames. Amongst conservatives there are mixed feelings and concerns over the uncontrolled spending, especially in the second term, and dedication to comprehensive immigration reform that Bush so forcefully advocated.
Yet the reality of Jeb Bush is compelling and makes him the most attractive candidate, and more importantly the strongest potential president in the field today. His performance as Governor of Florida has been widely praised as both an example of effective conservative policies and competent leadership. Bush is regarded as one of the most thoughtful leaders in the conservative movement who has also been effective at reaching out to nontraditional Republican supporters, especially Hispanic voters. He left office in 2007 as one of the most popular Governors in the history of Florida, one of the critical states in any presidential election.
So far jeb has repeatedly claimed no interest in running for President in 2012, although he has left the door open to a later run. However in politics timing is indeed everything and many factors point to 2012 being Jeb Bush’s time. The race to unseat Barak Obama will not be as easy as many on the right think. The most effective path to victory for a Republican will be the question of competent leadership. It is becoming increasingly clear that while the American people personally like President Obama, they are realizing he is a more radical liberal than he campaigned as and is simply over his head in the White House. Obama has been reactive to most of the challenges of his administration and has ceded leadership to the radical liberals who dominate democrats on Capitol Hill. Without question, Jeb Bush is the strongest contrast to date the GOP could present in 2012.
When one looks at the field of GOP contenders emerging, none seem to have the same ability to appeal to the conservative base as well as reaching out to independents and moderate democrats. In an election where the escalating national debt is likely to be a dominate factor, Jeb’s record of responsible fiscal management in Florida would be a solid foundation for his candidacy. Bush has demonstrated an ability to embrace the core values of the Tea Party movement while not tolerating the small fringe elements the media and left like to focus on. Jeb Bush has the ability to unite the Republican Party as no other candidate who has emerged to date.
Politically, Bush has established himself as an able candidate during his three state wide campaigns in Florida and continuing presence on the national stage. While the left wing blogs are dismissive and the liberal media quick to talk dynasty, Bush would be both a match for and distinct contrast to Barak Obama in debates and on the campaign trail. An unapologetic conservative with a record of achievement. However the most compelling rational for a Bush candidacy is that at a time when America faces serious challenges on the economic, global and homeland security fronts, Jeb Bush appears to be one of the strongest and most capable contenders to lead America.
Jeb Bush is a Bush and a member of a family who has given honorable service to our nation over three generations. But most importantly his personal story is one of conservative vision, commitment and leadership. To be certain the blogosphere and the media would be in knots over a Bush candidacy, but the American people have a way of seeing through those distractions and grasping the reality of a candidate. Every leader has a time and when that coincides with the needs of the nation a potential rendezvous with destiny emerges. For Jeb Bush that time is 2012.