In a foreign policy address delivered yesterday, Jeb Bush stated: “I recognize that as a result [of the presidencies of my father and brother], my views will often be held up in comparison to theirs, but I am my own man.”
Of course he is. But the fact that he needs to say so, and will continue to, demonstrates the weakness of his position. It shows that the former governor runs with one strike already against him — the presidency of George W. Bush.
Foreign policy probably will be an unusually central concern in the 2016 election. It looms as a major vulnerability for Democrats, and especially for their likely nominee who served as Secretary of State during half of Obama’s disastrous presidency.
The Democrats will respond to attacks on the foreign policy of Obama-Clinton, as they have done, by reminding people how badly foreign policy supposedly was handled during the Bush years.
The argument is probably a non-starter — unless Republicans nominate Jeb Bush. Republicans will truly be “the stupid party” if they hand the Democrats this lifeline.
The media is already licking its chops at the prospect. Here’s the opening line of the Washington Post’s story on Jeb Bush’s speech:
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush on Wednesday promised to chart his own course on foreign policy — even as he announced a campaign brain trust associated, in part, with the most contentious policies of his brother’s and father’s presidencies.
Bush has named an eclectic group of “advisers.” It includes, as it should, key figures from the two most recent Republican presidencies, which happen to be those of his father and brother.
One Republican says that the list “screams of mush. . .trying to be everything to everybody.” That’s true, and it’s also par for the course for an “establishment” candidate.
Normally scant attention is paid to the composition of lists like the one Bush has compiled. Bloggers may obsess about this or that bete noire, but unless there’s reason to believe that a particular adviser has a leading role, the mainstream media typically has little to say about these mushy lists.
However, the Washington Post, in the first sentence of its first big story about Jeb Bush’s foreign policy, is using Bush’s adviser list to undercut his claim that he will chart his own course on foreign policy. The pounding has started and it won’t let up.
Republicans should nominate a candidate who doesn’t have to declare himself “his own man.”