I’m already abundantly on record defending Politico as an indispensable institution that among other things regularly produces some valuable reporting on American politics and government. But sometimes the “other things” are just overwhelming, as in the egregious puffed-up masterpiece of spin produced by Ben White and Marc Caputo purporting to take us inside Jeb Bush’s aborning presidential campaign. I read it eagerly in hopes of learning something of substance about Jebbie’s much-bruited “shock and awe” fundraising effort. But what White and Caputo breathlessly tell us over and over is that Jebbie’s kicking everybody’s butt because he’s organized and has a plan and his people have been calling donors and asking for money. Bush’s real stroke of genius, it seems, was to have his staff doing all this while he pretended not to be running. What a Jedi mind trick, eh?
Truth is, lots of people noticed back in the fall that Jeb’s public equivocation was being accompanied by lots of donor activity under the surface, and wondered what was up. So it’s not clear to me why not running when he didn’t have to be running gave him some significant advantage. But then White and Caputo do have a big magnifying glass when it comes to Bush’s superior positioning:
Because Bush is not an announced candidate or a federal office holder, he is far freer than others to work with the super PAC to collect unlimited contributions.
Really? There are no announced candidates at the moment. And there are a few other rivals who aren’t federal office-holders, either: John Bolton, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and Scott Walker come to mind right away.
But I guess you have to be exposed to The Man to grasp his innate superiority, and the finely tuned machine he’s put together with the will to power of an ubermensch, as evidenced by this glimpse of him at a fundraiser on his birthday:
One sign of Bush’s preparations for hitting the campaign trail was visible at the Kravis affair. To celebrate Bush’s birthday, the hosts brought him a slice of chocolate cake. But Bush didn’t indulge. Since late last year, the somewhat portly former governor has gone on the “paleo” diet to slim down.
Handed a piece of birthday cake, he plucked only the blueberry off the top and ate it.
Wow. This sort of methodical self-discipline is evident everywhere:
Insiders familiar with Bush’s thinking believe that the potential candidate has thought about everything: his qualifications, the changes in the Republican electorate and how to handle the legacy of his brother, who left office with terrible poll numbers.
“Did you ever know Jeb to do something halfway?” one “Jeb World alum” asked rhetorically. “He approached this the way he approaches a game of golf or the A-Plus [education] plan: methodically and seriously. … When it comes to his brother, there could be a ‘Sistah Souljah’ moment. He’s not his brother and, when that subject comes up, he’ll respectfully say where they differ.”
You get the sense Jeb’s already at work on his second-term domestic policy agenda. Maybe we should just suspend the election and declare him president by acclamation!
But at this point in the narrative, the authors of the piece and their interviewees seem to realize this is all sounding a bit robotic:
[Sally] Bradshaw, Bush’s closest confidante, rejects the idea that Bush is following a tight script.
“It’s hard for people inside the process-bubble in D.C. to understand this: There’s not a grand master plan,” Bradshaw said. “This is how we do it in Jeb World.”
Lord a-mercy. Thanks, Politico. I needed a good laugh.