Watching Jeb Bush announce he was suspending his campaign following his poor showing in the South Carolina primary, I couldn’t help but feel a little tinge of sorrow. Here was a man, a decent man, who but for the vagaries of time, might have been president someday. But it was not meant to be. Fate dealt the more intellectually-curious and circumspect of the political Bush brothers a cruel hand. Jeb’s try at attaining the highest office in the land came after the eight disastrous years of big brother’s presidency.
Jeb’s short, but emotional speech followed an introduction by his good friend, Lindsey Graham. As he worked up the courage to say what needed to be said, one could sense the weight being lifted from his shoulders. Jeb was forceful and to the point. He thanked his supporters for their efforts but admitted it was time to face reality.
“The people from Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire have spoken, and I really respect their decision,” said the former Florida governor, in reference to his poor finishes in the three states that have already held their presidential primaries and caucuses.
Jeb offered no regrets for the way he ran his campaign. Often criticized by many for having allowed Donald Trump to label him as “low-energy” and “weak,” Jeb never sank to the level of the Republican front-runner and winner of the South Carolina primary, Trump.
“In this campaign, I have stood my ground. I have refused to bend to the political whims,” Bush said in a somber hotel ballroom in Columbia, S.C. But one could almost sense a different, more defiant, thought running through Jeb’s brain, “If Americans want a buffoon for their commander-in-chief, so be it!” Oh, that liberating feeling when you are able to say, “F**k y’all!”
Might things have turned out differently if Jeb had gotten into the gutter with his nemesis, Trump? Probably not. By making the Bush name toxic, George W. created a mountain not even Sir Edmund Hillary could have conquered. In addition, Jeb just doesn’t have that kind of mean-fighting spirit within him. He is an honorable, genteel man.
It’s a pity. John Ellis Bush is the type of politician who might have done well in the Republican world of the Eisenhower era, i.e. pre-televised campaigns. Jed is not a natural campaigner like big brother George. He’s a stiff; a nerd; a policy wonk. Gaffes just seem to flow from his lips. You kinda know what he is trying to say but he just never seems to quite get the phrasing right.
Exhibit A- In his closing remarks this evening, Jeb, looking at his diminutive wife, Columba, standing beside him, said, “No matter what the future holds, here’s the greatest safety net, if you can imagine … tonight I’m gonna sleep with the best friend I have and the love of my life.”
Jeb, if only you had been so real on the campaign trail.
Photo | Reuters