Maybe Politico‘s Maggie Haberman is right, and the decision as to whether Jeb Bush runs for president in 2016 is a gripping family saga in which the “voices that count are people named Bush.” Once that premise is accepted, enterprising political writers can have great and unaccountable fun speculating about Columba and P. and W. and Barbara and Poppy and their vast sea of former advisors and retainers and where each and every one comes down on The Question. But it”s worth remembering that roughly 99% of politicians who after cold calculation decide not to run for a particular office claim “family considerations” as their excuse for taking a pass. And there are plenty of reasons Jeb Bush might decide he’s not going to run because he’s not going to win.
On the very day that Haberman’s soap opera appeared, National Review‘s Jonah Goldberg wrote a LA Times column concluding that Jeb had done too little to curry favor with the GOP’s conservative base to merit consideration for the 2016 nomination. A bit over a month ago, Goldberg wrote a NR column suggesting that among Republicans the Bush “brand” was perhaps fatally tarnished. (For that matter, last September another NR writer, Jim Geraghty, said that Jeb Bush’s agreement to present Hillary Clinton with a “Liberty Medal” in his capacity as chairman of the National Constitution Center disqualified him from running for president). This is of greater than passing interest because National Review was ground zero for a “draft Jeb” effort in 2012. And you know what? I have a feeling this may have a greater bearing on Jeb’s decision to run or demur than whether P. and Poppy and W. outvote Columba and Barbara as to whether it’s a good idea.