Shakedown Cruise in Dry Dock

Today’s big political junkie buzz revolved around news of a shakeup in Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign. That’s interesting in part because strictly speaking there is no Jeb Bush presidential campaign as yet; the Scion is due to announce next week.

But everybody in pundit-land is sure it reflects internal and external unhappiness with where Jeb is in the Invisible Primary. Here’s Byron York, who’s always a good reflection (and sometimes shaper) of conservative elite opinion:

The move comes amid bewilderment and disappointment among some Republicans who saw Bush as the natural leader of the GOP race. When word broke, a veteran party strategist recalled meeting recently with Republican donors who had become increasingly unhappy with the Bush effort.

“They [the donors] said that in January, Bush laid out a scenario of where he would be by now, and it has not remotely happened,” the operative recalled. “They said the plan was for Bush to use this period to emerge as frontrunner, and launch as decisive frontrunner with the model, interestingly enough, being George W. Bush in 1999. But that hasn’t happened, obviously, and I expect this bloodletting is to show that they are aware and trying to take steps to address.”

“Bloodletting” seems a tad strong since the main step actually announced involved a shuffle wherein presumed campaign manager David Kochel was renamed “early state” coordinator while communications wizard Danny Diaz assumed the top spot. I’d say what this could mean is simply that Team Jeb’s less and less inclined to make a big push to win Iowa, making the Iowa specialist Kochel less and less appropriate for the top job.

But whatever it actually means, it’s not surprising the Bushies have decided to offer a propitiatory sacrifice to the Beltway gods of Momentum and Expectations, enabling them to slough off criticism of where they are with a “bold new leadership team” that will take them to the Promised Land. It’s probably a crock, but as I like to say, you can’t take the politics out of politics.

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.