Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Is Jeb "the Man?" Or is There an Alternative?

Several months ago, we asked on this blog, "is Jeb the man?" The answer was a resounding "no!"

Amid numerous predictions of his passing on a 2016 Presidential run, it now looks as if Jeb Bush will take the plunge. This will come as a great relief to establishment backers. It should also clear the field early, making it possible for a clear alternative to emerge.

Nothing is definite. But, smart money would suggest that if Mitt Romney ever entertained ideas about the Presidency, they would disappear 100% with Jeb's announcement. You can probably say 90% for Chris Christie and 80% for both Marco Rubio and Scott Walker. Assuming that all stay out, the Republican primary would look quite different. Before turning to the rest, let us evaluate each of the afore named.

Mitt Romney is well respected within the GOP hierarchy. An announcement not to run, followed by a subsequent endorsement of Bush would put tremendous pressure on Chris Christie to "be a team player." Besides the donors are one in the same!

Ditto for Marco Rubio! Could Rubio seriously take on his mentor? And, assuming that he did, what would the "moneybags" say? My guess is, "run for re-election, Marco. We'll be with you! And we know that you'll be with us in getting Governor Bush elected President."

Scott Walker? While a grassroots favorite, the chances of his overcoming this kind of inertia is improbable. Better to stay put, and finish what is becoming a conservative success story in Wisconsin. That is the way that Reince Pribus and friends would see it...

The early polls are essentially meaningless. Newsmax continues to post a survey that places Ted Cruz and Ben Carson as running number one and two. These are similar to the LA Dodger fans stuffing the all star ballot boxes in the eighties. Same held true for the Millennial heavy Conservative Leadership conference which gave Rand Paul an overwhelming victory. Enthusiasm is great! So is passion for a fresh face with new ideas.

The questions confronting the Republican base are "is Jeb the man?" Or, "can we agree on one alternative?"

With no Romney, Rubio, Christie and Walker, the field does thin out significantly. Left are Paul, Cruz, Carson, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin, and Rick Perry. Governor Palin is almost certainly not running. Governor Perry almost certainly is running. Odds are, Jindal will do what he did in 2012: endorse Perry and be a key advocate in the campaign. Senator Santorum? Who knows!

A blogger on Tea Party Nation stated emphatically that Rick Perry was "Establishment." Yet, in 2010, Perry proclaimed himself "Tea Party." Which leads to the next question: "Which Tea Party?"

The original Tea Party Patriots organization allowed discussion only on fiscal issues. They would not publish comments on abortion, gay rights, immigration or any subject that was not related to fiscal issues. The objective of this original Tea Party was to bring America's fiscal house in order. Independents made up a lot of the original Tea Party. They also included disgruntled Democrats, unhappy with their parties lack of fiscal restraint.

Assuming that Rick Perry was a member of the Tea Party, it is probably this specific Tea Party that he referenced.

Should Perry be classified Establishment, it's a fair assertion to label him "to the right" of the remaining Establishment players. Most notably, Jeb Bush.

Why the significance? Could not Rand Paul or Ben Carson defeat Jeb Bush? If they did, they would do it with no Establishment support!

To truly understand the dynamics of a face-off between Perry and Bush, one must return to the Texas 2010 Gubernatorial election. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson was returning home to take on Perry, the incumbent. The polls had her winning by 20-30 points. While George W. Bush didn't endorsement her, Dad did. Her entire staff was made up on Dubya's old people. Karl Rove headed up "Team Hutchinson."

National Review's Kevin Williamson described Hutchinson as a "mushy oatmeal" Republican. She paraded across the Lone Star state reminding voters what she in Washington had done for them. Perry's retort was simple: "Yeah, but those duties should be reserved for the states."

Beginning with Dubya's signature accomplishment, "No Child Left Behind." You can also throw "The Department of Homeland Security" into that bin! Both programs were well intended. Yet, both amounted to more big government from Washington D.C..

In the end, Perry trounced Hutchinson and went on to handily win the general election.

This is the core argument going forward for Republicans. "Big government that is Washington based" versus "smaller government with more power given to the individual states." It begins with Common Core.

Jeb Bush embraces Common Core. Rick Perry vehemently opposes Common Core. In fact, Perry advocates abolishing the Department of Education altogether!

Most conservatives hold a yearning for "reducing the size, scope and cost" of the federal government. Getting there requires some practical cogitation. To be sure, Perry stands for those things. But, do any of the alternatives have a true zeal, not to mention an actual, on-the-job report card reflecting as much?

It comes down to being serious about retaking this country. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Ben Carson are superlative Americans. But this is about two questions:

"Is Jeb the man?" Likely he will be if facing Cruz, Paul or Carson!

"Who" is truly qualified to lead the free world?

Like Jeb or not, he has run a large, diverse state effectively. So has Perry.

Assuming that we are not satisfied with the experience level of our current chief executive, the rest of the field is clearly founding wanting.

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