Jeb Dissing Mitt?

Well, I suppose I should be excited by the long parade of Jeb Bush friends and associates who’ve told Politico‘s Jonathan Martin that he emphatically does not want to be Mitt Romney’s running-mate. After all, according to Martin, Jebbie is “the GOP vice presidential pick that Democrats fear most — a brassy choice who would likely deliver his crucial home state, boost the ticket with Hispanics and Catholics and appeal to both conservatives and independents.” Even “Obama’s high command” knows “Bush would effectively take Florida off the map,” so who am I to suggest otherwise?

There is this little problem that the only empirical data we have on Jebbie’s immense power to deliver his home state, a recent PPP poll, suggests he’d only move the needle from a 45-50 deficit to a 46-49 deficit. And beyond Florida, there is a pretty widespread perception that a GOP nominee who (a) wants to keep voters from thinking even for a moment about George W. Bush and the mess he left the economy in, and (b) is part of a party that now considers the 43d president a big-spending, immigrant-coddling heretic who betrayed conservative principles, would probably like JB a lot better if he campaigned like Madonna, with no last name.

Interestingly, the only time that perception comes up in Martin’s piece is via the concern that dynastic issues might create pressure on Jebbie to pledge he’d never run for president. “But Bush’s loyalists dismiss such a ploy as a nonstarter.” Why do that when you and half the party wishes that you, not Mitt, was at the top of the ticket to begin with?

In any event, Jeb hasn’t issued a Sherman Statement just yet, so maybe we should all remain very afraid.

NOTE: My references to “Jebbie” may seem to violate my earlier foreswearance of mocking diminutives for conservative politicians, notably Rick (formerly “Ricky”) Santorum. I deploy this term for the former governor of Florida only because it is reportedly how he is addressed by his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, who also reportedly was grooming him, not his older brother, to become president. It’s worth remembering that we have the late Lawton Chiles–who defeated Jeb Bush in his first gubernatorial bid in 1994, and thus took him off the table for a 2000 presidential run–to thank for the eight years of W.’s administration.

Having made my point, I’ll henceforth end the “Jebbie” references unless he publicly adopts the diminutive himself in an effort to make himself even cuddlier and more lovable than he is right now.

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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.