And more to the point, is he ready for it? The day after he gave a big Today interview to test the 2016 waters and chart a distinct course on immigration, he was already disavowing his own book on immigration. Which leads me to wonder why the just-released book is still on the shelves, or how Bush can leave his name on it. I feel a great swell of pity for his co-author.
What does everyone make of Jeb Bush? I’ve tried to resist the knee-jerk impulse to dismiss him out of hand because America will never vote for the third installment of a dynasty, or never vote for anyone named “Bush” again. That sort of simple Crackerjack-box political wisdom is usually wrong, especially in a year when Democrats are straining mightily to get people to vote for another Clinton… and her horrific performance on Benghazi will be far fresher in memory than anything G.W. Bush did. (Of course the media will keep trying to bury Benghazi, but we won’t let them, and that “what difference does it make?” sound bite of hers should make every single American’s blood run cold.)
But leave out the superficial issues, and let’s say Hillary isn’t the Democrat nominee. Can Jeb Bush be a serious player in ’16? I think he does a lot of things well: as you can see from that Today interview, he’s polished, projects intelligence, handles tricky questions with aplomb, and gives… nuanced answers that can easily be modified later, rather reminiscent of the Obama style, actually. And whatever personal dislike one might have for Silly Putty political rhetoric, it does seem to work with plenty of voters. Watching Bush handle an interview, he sure does look like the kind of politician people tend to vote for.
But even on an issue that leaves the American public deeply conflicted, like immigration… even when it’s likely that other issues will dominate the news cycle in 2016, years after a “comprehensive immigration reform” deal has been struck, and probably years before it becomes obvious that it’s not working… are Republican primary voters going to crave the leadership of a candidate who walks back his own book, the day after it hits the shelves?