Every rich Republican in the country seems eager to throw millions of dollars at Jeb Bush. In a way, I understand. Jeb is more like his father than his idiot brother. On paper, he looks like an actual presidential candidate, unlike, say, Michele Bachmann, Hermann Cain or Rick Santorum. He might be able to unite the Republican Party in a way that Jon Huntsman simply could not. I have been saying for years that Jeb Bush is about all the GOP has in the way of a viable presidential candidate, and I still believe that.

It’s quite possible that Jeb could win the nomination in pretty much the exact same way that McCain and Romney did…by default. But it won’t be possible for him to unite the Republican base. Not only is a big part of the Republican base aligned against the big-government deficit-spending of Jeb’s father and brother, but they are almost pathologically opposed to immigration reform and they’d rather home school their kids than have them race to the top of a Common Core curriculum.

If Jeb decides to run and winds up in a showdown with Hillary Clinton, he’ll have a shot, but he won’t be successful if he relies on a get-out-the-base strategy. McCain and Romney proved that the GOP base is too small to carry a Republican to victory in a national election. A successful candidate would have to take the far right for granted and accept that there will be some drop-off in enthusiasm, while repositioning the Republican Party in the center. Jeb could do that.

But another thing that I think will hamper him is an unwillingness to publicly criticize his brother. I mean, it’s kind of classy to be respectful and protective of your brother, but it leaves you a sitting duck for bombs launched from both the left and the right.

I’m not sure if Jeb will actually run. He’d have to be convinced he has half a prayer of beating Hillary, and I have no idea why anyone would be very confident about any Republican’s chances against her. And, I think, Jeb would have to be pretty confident that he wouldn’t get humiliated and lose the nomination to Mike Huckabee or something.

Either way, the people with the moneybags are waiting in the wings.

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com