Jeb Bush has struggled to gain any traction in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. The former Florida governor’s campaign has raised an unprecedented amount of money, yet has failed to gain the attention of voters. Now, the candidate is so desperate that he is enlisting the help of his brother, former failed President George W. Bush.
By almost any objective measure, the George W. Bush presidency was a complete and abject failure. The Texas governor and 2 term Republican President left office at a time when the country was in the midst of a once in a generation recession. He was largely responsible for failing to oversee and rein in the excesses of Wall Street banks that engaged in mortgage schemes that in many ways caused the great recession. Furthermore, his tax cuts, which largely went to the richest Americans, did little to spur economic growth, while inflating an asset bubble.
On the security front, the “mission accomplished” President failed to stop and prevent 9/11, the worst terrorist attack on US soil in history. Afterwards, he sent the country into 2 endless wars that resulted in even more American deaths, one of which having nothing to do with 9/11 in the first place. Back at home, Bush let an entire city get destroyed by a hurricane, only to bungle the rescue and reconstruction efforts shortly after, in large part because his administration was padded with cronies rather than subject matter experts in disaster recovery. When all was said and done, George W. Bush’s approval rating plunged to an abysmal 23%, as Americans finally realized what a failure of a President and a person George W. Bush truly was.
Nevertheless, George’s brother Jeb is so desperate, that even a familial connection to a former President with a 23% approval rating now looks like a net positive. Jeb, most recently famous for his “Washington is not part of my DNA” remark, is counting on the possibility that maybe next to George, he will not look or sound as clueless and stupid. Jeb Bush’s campaign spokesperson Tim Miller recently said “Jeb is running on his record, but there is obviously tremendous respect for and good will toward President Bush in the party and beyond thanks to his leadership in a time of crisis for this country.” This is about as positive of a spin as one can put on the George W. Bush presidency. It also calls Jeb’s judgment into serious question.
George W. Bush has already appeared in private fundraisers, helping raise money for a candidate that seems to be incapable of translating that money into growth in the polls. However, up to now, advisors have warned Jeb that any connection to his brother’s failed presidency will doom his chances with voters in the Republican primary, and especially the general election. But faced with challenges from establishment candidates like Marco Rubio, along with attention-grabbing insurgents like Donald Trump, Jeb doesn’t seem to have much of a choice but to bet on the amnesia of the Republican primary voter.