Whistling Past the Junkyard: The Establishment’s Attempt to Make Jeb Seem Inevitable

AP Photo/Susan Walsh
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

For several weeks now, the mainstream Jurassic media has been up to their old psychological warfare tricks, and naturally, the Republican establishment is falling for it hard. They always do, and this includes “the architect,” Karl Rove.

This time it’s the media’s attempt to get Jeb Bush the Republican nomination for President in 2016. Articles that fawn over Jeb, either from a formidability standpoint or in the vein that he’s a “reasonable” conservative are everywhere. There has also been a release of meaningless polls touting Jeb’s strength atop the potential Republican field. These have all surfaced from many of the same quarters that tried to sell the country similar notions about John McCain in 2007-08, Mitt Romney in 2011-12, and to some extent even Jon Huntsman.

Naturally, the GOP establishment was all in for McCain in ’08 and Mitt in 2012 as the two “most electable” Republicans, because they would appeal to the independents. They were not and did not. The establishment was wrong again. They always are. (More on that later).

From the Jurassic media standpoint, this is a fairly transparent attempt to soften the battlefield of ideas with shallow psy-ops by warning Republicans and conservatives what they must do to keep their party from becoming extinct. Consider some history: this is the same media that told us Romney was actually “too Republican and too conservative” in 2007-08. Some tried to assure us the Democrats really feared Huntsman more than anyone else in 2011-12. Later, we were told Romney was inevitable and that Newt Gingrich only appealed to “fans of cock fights,” racists, and “Tea Party extremists.” We were told soccer moms in Ohio didn’t want us to criticize Obama because he was so personally popular.

The establishment agreed with all of it. They savaged Newt, Sarah Palin’s pick, as the devil for six months—and then turned around and assured us “Obama is a nice guy who is just over his head.” Setting your opinion of Newt aside for a second, how well did this strategy work out? The establishment is so out of touch they failed to realize that Obama was “personally popular” because they were too frightened of the charge of racism to criticize him.

We’ve also been warned not to oppose amnesty, not to repeal ObamaCare, not to read anything into the 2010 election results, that the 2014 election means only that Republicans had better work with Obama to get things done, and that we better not support Ted Cruz and any more government shutdowns. Taking a look further back, this is the same media that warned Republicans not to nominate Reagan in 1980 and not to push the Contract with America in 1994. All of this based on the idea that Republicans must moderate to survive.

The GOP establishment is all in on all of this too. Which begs the question: how does the establishment continue to ignore history and get everything wrong?

Keep in mind that all of these warnings come from politicians, pundits, and consultants whose main goal in life is to destroy the Republican Party, especially the conservative wing. They know this is all awful advice. And yet, the GOP establishment falls for it every time. The big money and the big names in the GOP have all bought into this in spite of the lessons of history, not to mention the motivations of those dispensing with this advice. This includes the Bush machine.

Speaking of which, this group’s last major effort was an epic failure. It was Team Bush that got behind the efforts of moderate Kay Bailey Hutchison in her primary challenge for Governor against Rick Perry, as well as Tea Party candidate Debra Medina. The results would have embarrassed Team Bush, had they any shame. Hutchison, a popular sitting Senator who had never lost a statewide race or even come close, was routed and only tallied 30% of the primary vote. Perry finished with 51% and Medina 19%. Do the math: the conservative anti-Hutchison/Bush vote was 70%.

Remember, this was a GOP Primary in Texas, the Bush organization’s center of power and with an electorate they are supposed to know and understand. They clearly did not. This includes Karl Rove. I submit they do not understand the national electorate, either.

The last 35 years of history proves that Republicans win big in both general and midterm elections when there is a clear, distinct, and wide ideological gap, or perceived ideological gap, between the parties and candidates. This was the case in 1980, ’84, ’88, ’94, 2002, 2010, and 2014. Democrats win big when there is ideological confusion or a decidedly small gap. This is what happened in 1992, ’96, ’98, 2006, 2008, and 2012. In years where the ideological gap is neither large nor small, elections are always very close and can go either way.

Somehow, McCain and Romney managed not to illustrate any kind of philosophical contrast, even against a radical opponent. They ignored the last three-plus decades—but instead ran scared of Goldwater’s 1968 effort. What is it about moving inside the beltway that destroys critical thinking?

With respects to Bush candidacies, George H. W. Bush won handily in 1988 over far-left liberal Michael Dukakis because the perception was four more years of Reagan. In 1992, when Bush’s moderate colors had re-emerged—and Bill Clinton (and Ross Perot) muddied the differences between the candidates—Bush’s 38% was an all time low percentage for an incumbent. George W. Bush’s nondescript campaign needed the Electoral College to win by a whisper in 2000 and won by less than 3% as an incumbent in 2004. Had he not had the fortune of running against the two weakest Democrats in modern history, he would have failed, also.

With the liberal failures of Obama and ObamaCare on full display, the terrain is ripe for Republican victory in 2016. Campaigns and ideology matter, however, and it is clear that a Jeb Bush candidacy would follow the lead of his father in 1992, Dole-Kemp in 96, McCain in 2008, and Romney in 2012. He’s already reached out to McCain for advice on how to win without the base, and it’s an open secret that he occupies the same ideological space and donor base as does Romney. For good measure, Romney has indicated he would abdicate to Jeb but would fight Cruz tooth and nail to “save the party and the country.”

This is a recipe for disaster for Republicans, even as the Washington establishment remains convinced otherwise. Nominating candidates like Jeb is how the establishment loses, again and again.

C. Edmund Wright is a contributor to Breitbart, American Thinker, Newsmax TV and author of WTF? How Karl Rove and the Establishment Lost… Again.


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