In a rather desperate attempt to mitigate the meaning of last names, 2016 presidential hopeful Jeb Bush preemptively attacked Hillary Clinton for running on 90s nostalgia. In other words, the brother of George W. Bush is trying for obvious reasons to negate all of those good associations people have with the economic boom of Clinton era. If your brother tanked the U.S. economy, throwing it into its worst state after the Great Depression, you wouldn’t want anyone discussing the Clinton era either.
Asked to “handicap” the 2016 field by “by a well-heeled network of contributors in his father’s hometown”, the former Florida Governor opened fire on Republicans’ worst fear — the nostalgic prosperity of the Clinton years, according to Hearst Connecticut Media, who were citing anonymous sources from the closed to press gathering.
“He said, ‘If someone wants to run a campaign about 90s nostalgia, it’s not going to be very successful,'” an insider told Hearst Connecticut Media.
Hearst reporter Neil Vigdor explained that the person asked not to be identified because “because the event, held at the $7.2 million Belle Haven estate of former Goldman Sachs investment banking boss Charles Davis, was closed to the media.”
The problems with this attack are many, but the largest one is the presumption that Hillary Clinton has no qualifications other than her husband, who is the most admired president of the last quarter century. Does Jeb Bush really think the public sees Ms. Clinton as a former First Lady and that’s it? Or is the problem that this is how the Republican sees her, and by extension — since it’s sort of hard to miss her recent stints as most beloved U.S. politician, Secretary of State, Senator — all women?
Jeb Bush also told the group of wealthy possible supporters that Hillary Clinton would have to explain President Barack Obama’s foreign policy “miscues”, which is an odd place to land for the brother of George W. Bush. However, Hillary Clinton ran against Barack Obama in 2008. Furthermore, 63% say she would do a good job on foreign policy and 61% say the same on terrorism, whereas Bush has no experience with either. But the good news is that this means Jeb Bush expects to explain the invasion of Iraq over non-existent WMDs, a rather large “miscue”.
It’s obvious that Jeb Bush is already on defense about his brother’s disastrous presidency, which ended just a short 6 years ago. When asked by the crowd about “Bush fatigue” (a nice way of putting the post traumatic stress syndrome disorder that the Bush name invokes in the majority of the country):
“He said, ‘Do you have a father? Do you have a brother? Are you the same person?'” the insider said.
And perhaps this is why he is attacking Hillary Clinton over her husband, to make the point that people are not their family members. The problem with this is that Hillary Clinton has her own political career, and it most recently involved working internationally for yet another Democratic president now known for economic prosperity. Hillary Clinton has way more experience than Jeb Bush, so if last names are taken out of the equation, she is way ahead of him. Ms. Clinton is known throughout the world and consistently polls as a/the top politician. It’s not as if she needs to run on her husband’s record.
But it’s also not as if her time in the White House as First Lady isn’t applicable. She has already lived eight years in the White House as a huge part of Bill Clinton’s presidency. Certainly Republicans attacked her then for her involvement in policy, so they can’t now pretend that never happened.
If Jeb Bush wants to distance himself from his name, what does he bring to the table? No one would know who he was outside of Florida unless they remembered his part in handing the presidency to his brother George W. Bush in 2000, as revealed in mails recently obtained by the Wall Street Journal (subscriber link). The Hill broke down citing an email “thanking John Roberts, now the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, for his ‘input’ on Bush’s role in that situation”:
George W. Bush was eventually declared the winner of the election following a Supreme Court decision on December 12, 2000. Six days before that, Jeb Bush had written to John Roberts, who was then in private practice.
“I really appreciate your input on my role in this unique and historic situation,” Bush wrote. No further details or context were provided in the Journal’s report.
This is a bit more than “having a brother.” It’s more like having a brother you handed the White House to via using your power as the Governor of Florida. That doesn’t exactly scream, “We’re just blood, it means nothing, we don’t share a political agenda.”
What exactly was Jeb Bush working so hard to get his brother elected for if not a belief in his political agenda? Is he going to deny the family legacy of the Bush political agenda?
Jeb Bush can’t escape the toxic legacy of his last name by trying to discredit the prosperous legacy of the Clinton name. It’s not going to be that easy, and he’s going to trip over his own sexism one too many times and shoot himself in the foot with half of the country if he’s not careful. Jeb Bush’s basic argument is he is giving Hillary Clinton no credit for her own career, except to make her explain the actions of Barack Obama and dismiss the policies of Bill Clinton. But Republicans have already tried to taint Hillary with personal attacks on Bill, just proving how dangerous it is for Republicans to be facing off against a formidable female politician.
Hillary Clinton is her own person with her own record. On top of that, she can also claim some credit for the policies of her husband, whose own presidency is remembered fondly for its economic prosperity.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.