The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler


Posted on | February 1, 2016 | 47 Comments

Jeb Bush will lose. The question is, will he be crushed, embarrassed and humiliated so badly that he quits? Probably not:

Jeb Bush’s supporters have spent $15 million on slickly produced ads to win over Iowa voters. Barely registering in the polls and increasingly desperate in the shadow of the Iowa caucuses, he’s now trying a cost-free, personal tactic: hugs.
When 67-year-old Harrison Cass, Jr., of Waterloo, pledged to caucus for Bush Monday night, the former Florida governor jogged across a crowded town hall-style meeting to embrace him.
“I give out hugs,” Bush said at the Cedar Falls event. “I’m from Miami, that’s what we do.”
Bush, once considered the Republican presidential front-runner, is doing whatever it takes to stay relevant in the 2016 contest.
And whether it’s a friendly squeeze or a scathing attacks ad from his allies, he’s showing no signs of going quietly. That’s despite the wishes of some Republican strategists, who fear his underdog candidacy is making it harder for his party’s mainstream wing to coalesce behind another candidate.
All the while, billionaire businessman Donald Trump has maintained a huge lead over the so-called establishment candidates.
Bush’s super PAC, Right to Rise, has disgorged tens of millions of dollars attacking the candidates seen to be in direct competition with him: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Right to Rise has spent more than $24 million on ads contrasting the former Florida governor with one or more of those three, most often Rubio, data from advertising tracker Kantar Media’s CMAG show. That’s on top of a tidal wave of millions of dollars of mail to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire opposing Rubio, Kasich and Christie — sometimes all three at once, expenses documented in Federal Election Commission reports.
Overall, Bush’s allied super PAC had spent more than $80 million on television and radio advertising this campaign season as of midday Sunday. That includes more than $15 million in Iowa alone — which is about as much as the total by super PACs aligned with the other Republican candidates still in the race.

The possibility of a Bush comeback is the Phantom Menace of 2016. For 10 days, ever since National Review devoted its cover to an all-out attack on Trump, I’ve been haunted by this scenario: Somehow, Jeb survives an embarrassing fifth-place finish in Iowa and then, with a massive ad blitz, takes fourth-place in New Hampshire — a result that drives both Kasich and Christie from the field. Next, the Nevada caucuses, where Jeb again finishes fourth and then South Carolina, where an unprecedented onslaught of Bush TV ads combined with endorsements by sold-out GOP officials enables Jeb to finish third, ahead of Rubio. If Marco finishes fourth in South Carolina, he’s doomed, and this would effectively make it a three-man race — Trump, Cruz and Bush — heading into Super Tuesday on March 1.

Super Tuesday is only a month away, and here’s the question: Why shouldn’t Team Bush, which has already unloaded more than $80 million to get Jeb to 2% in Iowa, hang on for another month and try to make that comeback happen? Neither of his so-called “mainstream” Republican rivals, Kasich and Christie, has a hope in hell of going all the way. If Jeb can just endure a few defeats, he’s three weeks from South Carolina, where the latest Real Clear Politics average shows this:

Trump …….. 36.0%
Cruz ………… 19.7%
Rubio ………. 12.7%
Bush ………… 10.0%

If the gap between Marco and Jeb in South Carolina is less than three points, how many millions of dollars does Team Bush have to spend smearing Rubio in order to finish him off? All my conservative friends, now at each others’ throats in the Trump-Cruz-Rubio fight amongst the current GOP front-runners, seem willing to ignore this nightmare scenario: Jeb emerging from South Carolina with a third-place finish that Team Bush can spin as a miraculous comeback victory. But this sense of dark foreboding has haunted me like Banquo’s ghost.

Bush must be destroyed — Jeb delendus est — or we are doomed.




  1. Lockstein13
    February 1st, 2016 @ 8:10 am

    I’d say !Jeb! is more !STUPID!
    than “evil”…IN ANY CASE…

    The GOP will manipulate everything in their power
    (as they have already to derail Trump).
    By March 15, when “winner take all” states
    are first allowed in the GOP Primaries,
    everyone should *sense* who is going to be the nominee.

    Therefore, I ask every voter in such “winner take all” states
    to vote for the clear leader at that time to avoid the distribution of votes, allowing the establishment to throw the nomination
    via a “brokered” convention to someone like Rubio or Jeb!

  2. rambler
    February 1st, 2016 @ 8:25 am

    What’s to destroy? Bush was DOA on day one and he’s been too deep in denial to know he was never in the race.

  3. Ilion
    February 1st, 2016 @ 8:45 am

    “I give out hugs,” Bush said at the Cedar Falls event. “I’m from Miami, that’s what we do.”
    Translation: I’m so low-t that the word which immediately comes to your mind when you think if me in not figurative

  4. RS
    February 1st, 2016 @ 8:45 am

    Do not under any circumstances dismiss the possibility that the GOP has the game rigged in caucus states. Find out who’s running the local caucus–usually the local committee chair–and to whom he’s beholden. Read the local rules. Watch how those rules are manipulated in favor of certain candidates. Polls mean nothing. If Bush is the anointed one, he will do better than expected tonight and the news stories tomorrow will be aflutter with “comeback kid” angles. Very few reporters, however, will sit through a caucus to see how the sausage is actually made.

  5. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    February 1st, 2016 @ 8:47 am

    Jeb! is like a bad case of the clap that won’t go way. Finish him off.

  6. Art Deco
    February 1st, 2016 @ 9:02 am

    Every once in a while, you have a dark horse who appears of nowhere or only registers in surveys just a few weeks ‘ere balloting (John Anderson in 1980, John Edwards in 2004, and Rick Santorum in 2012). Bush is not that guy. He’s been considered and rejected by the electorate. Popular balloting has had at least some consequence since 1952, and nothing like what you describe has ever happened.

  7. Art Deco
    February 1st, 2016 @ 9:05 am

    Day one? No, he was leading for most of he period running from the fall of 2013 to June of 2015, although some others (Christie, Rubio, Walker, and Huckabee) had a few turns in the lead. He and Gov. Huckabee have lost more than 2/3 of their polled support since June 2015 (and Walker’s candidacy was destroyed).

  8. Dana
    February 1st, 2016 @ 9:06 am

    Our esteemed host quoted:

    Bush, once considered the Republican presidential front-runner, . . . .

    The obvious question is: who once considered Governor Bush to be the Republican front-runner? The media so anointed him, but I never, ever saw any indications from actual Republicans or c0nservatives that they considered him as a candidate they supported.

    This primary season is turning out to be the establishment vs the grass-roots, and Governor Bush isn’t a favorite of the grass-roots. While I personally like him, and have no objections to him, he’s not the candidate I support, and realistically, he would be my second to last choice; Donald Trump is my lower-than-last choice.

  9. Art Deco
    February 1st, 2016 @ 9:07 am

    No, polls mean something. They’re less accurate than they used to be and less accurate in caucus states and in primary states. Bush isn’t winning the caucuses on the strength of 4.5% of likely voters.

  10. Art Deco
    February 1st, 2016 @ 9:12 am

    No, Dana, he placed 1st in polls of Republican voters for most of the period from November 2013 to June of 2015. Such polls are not all that predictive, but no one else was leading during that time period.

    Bush’s candidacy is ruined. If the Capitol Hill nexus has an opening, it would be Marco Rubio. There remains the slimmest possibility that John Kasich may do well enough in New Hampshire to continue campaigning. It’s a pity in one sense: Bush is a much more appropriate candidate than Rubio, and has a certain integrity that’s missing from Rubio.

    I think if they’re any surprises this evening, they might be in the size of the vote tally separating Cruz and Rubio.

  11. CrustyB
    February 1st, 2016 @ 9:23 am

    I used to think (or kid myself) that, when Bush & Rubio dropped out, Cruz would rise to the top and lose to whatever enemy of freedom the Democrats ran in the General. But now I’m not so sure where Jeb’s supporters will go. Predicting the actions of the insane is difficult.

  12. kilo6
    February 1st, 2016 @ 9:26 am

    What Jeb’s signs really say:
    ¡Vota por Yeb!

    ¡Mas H1-B Visas y inmigración sin límites por todos mis amigos en Cámara de Comercio! esta un acto de amor!

  13. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    February 1st, 2016 @ 12:10 pm
  14. RS
    February 1st, 2016 @ 12:11 pm

    I’m not saying it will be Bush. I’m saying the establishment will settle on a candidate and rig caucuses to insure a result.

  15. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    February 1st, 2016 @ 12:11 pm

    I don’t know what a case of the clap is like, I’ve just heard…

  16. Dana
    February 1st, 2016 @ 1:02 pm

    I can, however, see one great value of a Jeb Bush presidency: even though he is by no means our most conservative candidate, another Bush presidency would make the lefts’ heads absolutely explode!

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  18. CrustyB
    February 1st, 2016 @ 1:08 pm

    True. But then, a pea-shooter could make a lib’s head explode.

  19. Patrick Carroll
    February 1st, 2016 @ 1:25 pm

    I’ve always seen Jeb as more of a “delenda” than a “delendus”.

  20. rambler
    February 1st, 2016 @ 1:30 pm

    He was leading with the party elites. He wasn’t going to fly with the GOP base of with independents. My liberal friends just love Jeb, so what does that tell ya?

  21. Lockstein13
    February 1st, 2016 @ 2:19 pm

    Miss BL, calling Miss BL:
    white courtesy telephone call from your doctor…white courtesay telephone call from your doctor…

  22. Lockstein13
    February 1st, 2016 @ 2:20 pm

    “But now I’m not so sure where Jeb’s supporters will go.”

    Which one? Or do you mean both of them?!

  23. Art Deco
    February 1st, 2016 @ 2:34 pm

    They do not poll ‘party elites’. They poll ordinary voters. As for what ‘flies’ with the “GOP base’, they’ve nominated opportunists and Capitol Hill fixtures on eight or nine separate occasions over the last 50-odd years and the favorite this time is a real estate developer about whose future course no one can predict.

  24. Art Deco
    February 1st, 2016 @ 2:38 pm

    Rig which caucuses? You’re not describing anything which has been the mode in 40 years. The candidates you do not care for (e.g. Bob Dole, both Bushes, John McCain, Mitt Romney) rolled over the opposition in primaries as well as caucuses.

  25. Daniel Freeman
    February 1st, 2016 @ 2:45 pm

    There are only three candidates in the race — Nationalist, Conservative and Establishment — and the latter is a hydra. Huckabee and Santorum may be on the Nationalist side, but then everyone else except ¡Jeb! is only there to keep Cruz from winning eight states. If they succeed, then he can’t be presented as a candidate at the convention, and they’ll give their delegates to Bush.

    Trump has thrown a yuuuge monkey wrench in their plans, but it is still the case that none of the one-state wonders will drop out unless Cruz would lose that state anyway. Kasich will stay in until at least Ohio. Rubio will stay in until at least Florida. Gilmore will stay in until at least Virginia, Fiorina until California, etc., unless Trump’s presence makes their presence unnecessary for blocking Cruz — and then they might stay in to block Trump.

  26. rambler
    February 1st, 2016 @ 2:46 pm

    Did I say they polled the elites?

  27. Finrod Felagund
    February 1st, 2016 @ 2:50 pm
  28. Zhytamyr
    February 1st, 2016 @ 2:51 pm

    Jeb is an actual candidate? I was wondering why Corky from “Life Goes On” was at all of the debates…

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  30. Matt_SE
    February 1st, 2016 @ 4:56 pm

    You know why I’m not worried about this scenario? Jeb.

  31. Matt_SE
    February 1st, 2016 @ 4:58 pm

    If Jeb wins ANY caucus, there will be torches and pitchforks in the streets. Some things are just too unbelievable.

  32. Art Deco
    February 1st, 2016 @ 5:27 pm

    No, you denied he was leading with the voting public. He was. They also have voted for candidates quite similar to Bush time and again.

  33. Art Deco
    February 1st, 2016 @ 5:30 pm

    They’ve already gone. About 2/3 of his support resorted to other candidates months ago.

  34. DeadMessenger
    February 1st, 2016 @ 5:33 pm

    “I give out hugs,” Bush said at the Cedar Falls event. “I’m from Miami, that’s what we do.”

    No we don’t give out hugs, that liar. We give out looks that say “Touch me and I will gut you like a trout.”

  35. RS
    February 1st, 2016 @ 5:34 pm

    Yes, I know. I’m a complete moron, totally out of touch with the way things work, with absolutely no connections to anyone who might, just might, have an insight on the way things work. Mea culpa, your Eminence.

  36. Jason Lee
    February 1st, 2016 @ 5:38 pm

    I like the cut of your Jeb, RSM.

  37. Art Deco
    February 1st, 2016 @ 5:38 pm

    Wagers the only candidates left by 2 March will be the actual competitors (unless someone else wishes to ape Jim Gilmore). None of these contenders will be Jeb Bush unless Messrs. Rubio, Kasich, and Christie are all run over by a truck.

    I can show you vote tallies from a mess of previous conventions which include those for candidates who won fewer than eight states.

  38. kilo6
    February 1st, 2016 @ 7:36 pm

    I’ve always noticed very friendly people while in FL over the years, but hugs? not so much. Not in Miami, Gulf Coast or even in cow country. The flamers I saw while in Key West are another story.
    A friend and his wife once invited me out to shoot two of their TV sets at the range in Okeechobee. One with pistols, the other with shoulder fired rifles & iron sights at 100yd. Their oldest son was quoting Quagmire from Family Guy when in first grade so obviously the cable hookup and the teevees had to go, plus homeschooling. One of the friendliest Sundays I’ve had, but no hugs.

  39. DeadMessenger
    February 1st, 2016 @ 9:24 pm

    Yep. That’s us. We’re friendly as hell, so long as you don’t touch us.

  40. rambler
    February 1st, 2016 @ 9:49 pm

    You have more faith in the accuracy of polls. It was said he was leading over Walker and then both of them tanked. He seemed to be more popular until he announce he was in. So those polls proved to be nothing of any substance. As for the voting…. when the parties put up 2 candidates not liked by the voters, then one can continue to vote the lesser of the evils or stay home.

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    […] So maybe there is a tiny glimmer of hope. […]

  42. Art Deco
    February 1st, 2016 @ 10:59 pm

    Strange as it may seem to you, people change their opinions, particularly when they’re not all that engaged. He led pretty consistently for a period of 18 months. That’s not due to ‘inaccurate polls’.

  43. Art Deco
    February 1st, 2016 @ 11:05 pm

    You’re not making much sense. ?Jeb! received all of 2.8% of the ballots. Is that part of The Plan? The five candidates most congenial to K Street et al collared all of 30% of the ballots between them. All is proceeding as you have foreseen?

  44. Daniel Freeman
    February 2nd, 2016 @ 1:36 am

    I can show you vote tallies from a mess of previous conventions which include those for candidates who won fewer than eight states.

    Yes, because they changed the rules a year or two ago from five states to eight.

  45. rambler
    February 2nd, 2016 @ 8:16 am

    Oh nothing is strange to me when it comes to people. Leading in a poll means nothing if not backed up by actual votes. Bye-Bye Jeb! You may have missed the part about some polling companies getting out of political polling since their prediction ability has diminished.

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  47. Jason Lee
    February 2nd, 2016 @ 9:48 pm

    That was weird, wasn’t it? Jeb’s not a real Floridian. I’m from the Okefenokee Swamp so I know something about real Floridians. NO HUGS.