After a week of Rand Paul dominating the news, and rocking the Obama Administration back on its heels, what we clearly needed on Sunday was six shows filled with Jeb Bush launching a long-shot four-year quest for the White House by explaining why he disagrees with the book on immigration reform he just published.
The scheduling is probably a tribute to the aggressiveness of Bush's literary publicists and political team, but the net effect is to defuse the momentum from Paul's filibuster, which stood on the verge of crushing Sunday show producers' favorite Republican, John McCain, into the pavement of irrelevancy. This would have been a very bad weekend to juxtapose Rand and his young conservative colleagues wondering why Team Obama is so bizarrely insistent on reserving the option of drone-dusting American citizens on U.S. soil without due processes, juxtaposed with McCain rambling on about wacko birds. Mission accomplished.
As for Jeb, I confess to deeply mixed feelings about his presidential possibilities. I think the conventional wisdom that he can't win because he's named "Bush" is lazy. It might be an obstacle, but his name may also have asset value, particularly among Americans wistful for the Good Old Days before Obama malaise set in. Seriously, if Jeb runs an otherwise superb campaign, and especially if he's running against someone named "Clinton," are we really supposed to assume that a terminal mass of voters will insist on dismissing him out of hand? Either he'll get past his name in the early stages of the primary, or he won't. Classifying this challenge as impossible seems as silly as saying that it would be effortless.
There's encouraging evidence of political savvy from Jeb and his team (witness the Sunday-show domination) and he's a very polished speaker who has demonstrated confidence and skill at dealing with the media. But... then we get into the immigration stuff, and particularly the bizarre spectacle of Jeb disavowing key conclusions of a book (not just a white paper or speech, but a hefty book he co-wrote with a noted authority on the subject) because he thinks the landscape shifted between the time he signed off on the final draft, and the moment it hit the shelves last week.
Jeb had an opportunity to distinguish himself as the leader who favored serious immigration reform without amnesty - the conclusion of his book - but he's backpedaling on it, in a way that casts serious doubt not only on his immigration stance, but his leadership skills in general. (And what if he starts backpedaling on the backpedaling, because he senses too much criticism of his leadership?) Even if he really has concluded that the political energy for amnesty is now irresistible, there had to be a more elegant way for him to make his peace with it.