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Jeb Doesn’t Need a Heart or a Head — He Needs Savagery

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Jeb Doesn’t Need a Heart or a Head — He Needs Savagery

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Jeb Bush hugs his brother former President George W. Bush at a campaign rally in North Charleston, South Carolina

As traveling acts go, the Bush family does not rise to the level of the Marx Brothers or even the Osmond family.

Until recently, the Bush clan has rarely been called upon to go before the great unwashed — that’s you and me — and speak to us.

An author who wrote about them has called them “the most successful political dynasty in American history.” I am withholding judgment on that, however, until I see whether the family can drag Jeb Bush across the finish line for the Republican presidential nomination.

So far, things look bleak. There is a new poll out in South Carolina that was conducted after the recent debate there that was so raucous it featured everything but pie throwing. In the poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, Bush tied with Ben Carson for last place, with 7 percent of the vote.

Consider that for a moment: Jeb, after spending millions and driving himself hard, supported by a famous family, is tied with a guy who is only moderately conscious.

Two debates ago, Carson was baffled when he was asked to walk down a hallway to get onto the debate stage. Even with a producer desperately motioning for him to move, Carson remained frozen in place.

After 1 minute and 18 seconds — a lifetime in television — Carson was finally persuaded to debate on the stage rather than remain in the hallway for the next two hours or so.

And this is the guy with whom Bush is tied, while Donald Trump sits in first place with 35 percent of the vote, five times what Bush and Carson have.

But why? We can easily answer that question in terms of Carson: He not only would be unable to answer the proverbial “3 a.m. phone call” to protect America; it is an open question whether he could answer the noon alarm clock to get out of bed.

Where is Jeb lacking, however?

At a forum last December, Jeb said the next president should be a “person with a heart, a person with a brain and a person with a backbone.”

Excuse me, but isn’t that the script for “The Wizard of Oz”? Add flying monkeys and you have all the good parts.

With the political demise of Jeb possibly imminent, the Bush family decided to send out its big guns: George W. Bush, Laura Bush and even Jeb’s mother, Barbara Bush. (George H.W. Bush does not appear well enough to travel much.)

At a recent rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, George W. used a couple of laugh lines to build a warm and fuzzy image for himself, which, as the chief architect of the Iraq War, he has been lacking.

“I’ve written two books, which has surprised a lot of people, particularly up East, who didn’t think I could read, much less write,” he said. “I’ve been one to defy expectations. I’ve been ‘misunderestimated’ most of my life.”

He got the desired laughs, but then he got onto dangerous ground: the truth.

“There seems to be a lot of name-calling going on,” the former president said seriously, “but I want to remind you what our good dad told me one time — labels are for soup cans.”

Really? Did George H.W. Bush really tell his eldest son not to name-call and label people?

Then what was George H.W. doing when he unleashed the ugly forces of racism in this country by hanging the “Willie Horton” label around the neck of his opponent, Michael Dukakis, in the 1988 election race?

“By the time we’re finished, they’re going to wonder whether Willie Horton is Dukakis’ running mate,” Lee Atwater, Bush’s campaign manager, bragged about that label.

The son cannot be blamed for the sins of the father, of course. But what about George W. himself? He had lost his first presidential race by more than 500,000 popular votes and became president only because of a one-vote margin in the Supreme Court.

That was his first presidential race. What could be used to win his second? How about a smear campaign, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? It ran such shameful ads against John F. Kerry that its label has entered history: According to my crack research staff (Wikipedia), swiftboating “has come into common use to refer to a harsh attack by a political opponent that is dishonest, personal, and unfair.”

Labels are for soup cans? No, they’re for bare-knuckle politics, the kind that the Bush family has used to win presidencies.

Look at the current success of Donald Trump: His outrageous, never-ending attacks have become a form of popular entertainment, a form that, oddly enough, mollifies us.

“We are not permitted to know who is best at being President,” Neil Postman, a media theorist, wrote way back in 1985, “but whose image is best in touching and soothing the deep reaches of our discontent.”

We are a people looking for a president to soothe our discontent.

Jeb doesn’t need a heart, a brain or a backbone. He needs a campaign of unremitting savagery.

Only then can he prove himself presidential.

Roger Simon is Politico’s chief political columnist. His new e-book, “Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America,” can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes. To find out more about Roger Simon and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

Photo: Jeb Bush hugs his brother former President George W. Bush as his former 2016 presidential campaign rival U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (L) of South Carolina and former first lady Laura Bush (R) look on at a campaign rally in North Charleston, South Carolina February 15, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill



  1. underledge February 17, 2016

    If you are looking for a family that represents the 1% – go no further than the Bush family!

  2. patrick g van meter February 17, 2016

    What Jeb really needs is to go home. This family is history and they are the only ones that don’t realize it. Bye

  3. Theodora30 February 17, 2016

    Even if Jeb is toast, that doesn’t change the fact that Prescott was an extremely powerful Senator, Poppy was Congressman, Head of CIA, VP and President, George was Governor and two term President and Jeb was Governor. What other family compares to that political power? They have so much clout that donors are afraid to stop throwing their money down the drain of Jeb’s lame campaign.

    As for savagery, the Bush modus operandi is to always let others do their dirty work while they stay above the fray so I am sure Poppy did tell them not to name call and label opponents. He knows the media will let them get away with having others run their nasty smear campaigns. Journalists and pundits still swoon over what a nice guy Poppy is knowing he allowed Lee Atwater to unleash the full force of his dishonest, dirty tricks on our political system. You left out the nastiest of all, Dubya trashing fellow Republican John McCain in the SC primary allowing him to be accused of being brainwashed by the Viet Cong and of having an illegitimate black child. Dubya was allowed to get away pretending his campaign had nothing to do with it.

    I keep wondering where Karl Rove is this time around. Apparently he is too busy getting his superpac, American Crossroads, to weaken Hillary with ads and social media posts attacking her from the left so they can run against Bernie to help Jeb. Or maybe now that Poppy is fading he isn’t afraid to not support the Bush family. Even the media seems to be losing its fear of crossing the Bushes. I have heard more about their dirty tactics than I did back when they were happening.

    1. oldtack February 17, 2016

      Powerful Prescot Bush. The only Senator I am aware of that had his income seized during WWII under the “Trading with the Enemy ” Law.For every bullet, bomb, plane and weaponry produced in Germany the investment Firm with which he was involved received compensation due to their investment in German Businesses before the War. While Allied troops were dying he was reaping money from the weaponry that killed them.

      1. Theodora30 February 17, 2016

        There are a lot of things in that family that the media has been willing to let slide like Poppy clearly giving Sadam the green light to invade Kuwait. And it was not just April Glaspie’s meeting with him, the State Department clearly said we would not defend Kuwait so Sadam invaded.
        Then there was Dubya’s bankruptcies, insider trading at Harken and failure to fulfill his obligation to the National Guard. Tha media obsessed about Billy Carter’s misdeeds and Roger Clinton got a lot of press for his problems but when Neil Bush admitted in his divorce deposition he had consorted with high priced call girls they ignored it. Then there was Neil’s helping bring down the Silverado Savings and Loan.
        Jeb has repeatedly taken money to lobby on behalf of crooks and even one known terrorist and it is also ignored by the mainstream media. Jeb lobbied his daddy’s administration (HHS as well as HUD) to help Miguel Recarey’s hospital system and Camilo Padreda’s real estate company to get waivers so they could get a bigger piece of our taxpayers money. bOth then cheated the government out of millions. It’s not like it was a big secret that these guys were sketchy, to say the least. Recarey openly bragged about his connections to the Miami mob boss Trafficante and Padreda was involved with the wack jobs in the Bay of Pigs fiasco.
        Bosch was even worse. He was known by our government to have been behind the blowing up of a Cuban passenger plane, killing 70+ people and was in custody in the US for firing a rocket at a Polish freighter docked in Florida when Jeb got his daddy to intervene and have him released. After he left the governorship Jeb said his goal was to make a lot of money so he again got in bed with a real estate crook by the name of Claudio Osorio. It was no secret that the guy was sketchy because the Miami papers had written about his questionable dealings. He eventually bilked his investors out of millions.
        When ABC was going to do a program about Bush and Recarey they backed off after getting pressure from the Bush family. You know, just like they would have done for the Clintons. By the time they interviewed Recarey he had fled the country with $2 million of our Medicare tax dollars.
        The Bush family is rotten to the core yet it is Bill Clinton who gets hammered for creating a charity and raising money from (horrors, people with a lot of money!!) and Hillary for working her tail off as Secretary of State. Massive double standard.

        1. oldtack February 17, 2016

          I think we ALL should make a concentrated effort to rid our ourselves and the Nation of Family dynasties that permeate the Halls of our Government. The Kennedy Family, The Clinton Family, The Bush family and all other “Lesser” families. We need dedicated leaders that concentrate on the position we entrusted to them. Not Family heirs. The Bush
          Dynasty started well before Prescott Bush and since Prescott we have had George H., George W., Jeb, and Jeb’s son, George Prescott Bush and other lining up to feed at the Federal Hog Trough..

        2. Polana February 17, 2016

          U R right T! Silverado Savings and Loan had gone belly up after Neil Bush did his deeds. Many people lost lots of money and some even committed suicide (I guess they value money more than life) because their life savings were gone and way too old to start over.
          Grandpa Prescott made his money w/Hitler Germany, it’s not a surprise. Well done job T. U know what U R talking about.
          All Dynasties sooner or later will go down. It’s Karma.

  4. Otto Greif February 17, 2016

    The Willie Horton ad was the truth.


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