Jeb and the Radio Gabbers

If Ted Cruz is coming to grips with a new medium called Yik Yak, Jeb Bush is having to worry about a very old medium, but one that has a central place in intra-conservative politics: talk radio. At Politico Magazine today, Michael Kruse has a well-researched history of Rush Limbaugh’s history with the Bush family, which is by and large one of hostility in presidential nominating contests followed by support in general elections, with the progression often lubricated by some heavy flattery (e.g., Poppy inviting Rushbo to spend a night in the Lincoln Bedroom, and even toting his luggage).

Not being a Rush listener, I was interested to learn from Kruse that Limbaugh is not only leading other conservative gabbers in running down Jeb in the early stages of the 2016 contest, but is strongly talking up Scott Walker. Rush clearly buys Walker’s argument that he is both more conservative and more electable than Bush, which is precisely the validation the Wisconsin governor is looking for in the early maneuvering.

Much of the article speculates as to whether Jeb could eventually charm Limbaugh into a less negative attitude; talk his way past hosts on talk radio, as the first really articulate Bush family politician; or ignore the whole problem because talk radio is so 1985. If none of those three approaches takes care of or at least mitigates the problem, Jeb has another handicap among many that he will have to expect oceans of money to offset.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.