Never Mind What Mama Said

Many, perhaps most, political writers are prone to falling in love with particular politicians and becoming their open or covert advocates. Few are as transparent about it, though, as WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin, who was one (along with Matt Drudge) of Mitt Romney’s few early champions in the conservative commentariat during the 2012 presidential cycle, and indeed turned her valuable journalistic real estate at the Post into something of a campaign billboard.

You have to figure she’s looking for a new chieftain moving ahead, and she’s written a lot of positive stuff about Marco Rubio. But now Rubin seems to be hedging her bets, if her post yesterday on “ten reasons Jeb should run” for president is any indication.

She offers a pretty tired recitation of assets for Jeb, much of it reminiscent of the Romney campaign’s efforts to turn his increasingly abandoned record as governor way back when into fresh material. The funniest thing is that she asserts twice that liberals are “terrified” by the prospect of another Bush candidacy, which to use a technical term it is often necessary to deploy after reading Rubin, is dead wrong. Do you know any liberals who fear America will be seized by Jeb-o-mania? I don’t.

The second funniest thing is that she breezily declares the “dynastic” issue dead if HRC runs. Trouble is, there’s a contrary authority on this subject who is pretty persuasive: Barbara Bush, who just last week wrote off a Jeb Bush presidential campaign on grounds that “we’ve had enough Bushes.” If you are keeping score at home, there have already been two President Bushes, as opposed to one President Clinton. Clinton left office with very high job approval ratings while W., despite the recent improvement of his “favorables” from abysmal to mediocre thanks to four years of invisibility, is probably not looking for space for his image on Mount Rushmore. As for HRC and Jeb, I need only note that last month a poll of Florida showed the latest Clinton leading the latest Bush in the latter’s home state by double digits in a prospective 2016 contest to cast a lot of doubt on Rubin’s entire hypothesis.

Perhaps Rubin is discharging some debt to Jeb or to his family with this strange though hardly atypical burst of hype, and will soon return to celebrating Marco Rubio. But then again, I didn’t think Mitt Romney was going to survive the abattoir of the 2012 Republican presidential nomination contest, either. So maybe she’s in touch with some internal wellsprings of Republican thinking that Barbara Bush and I just can’t comprehend.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.