Jeb! and His Exciting! Predecessors! (Not Named Bush!)

So the one-time front-runner in the 2016 GOP Invisible Primary will finally escape the gymnastics of an unofficial campaign (which persisted long after its usefulness as anything other than a legal shield for the otherwise illegal activity of raising money for and coordinating with a Super-PAC) and announce his candidacy today. We’ll have more to say after his announcement, obviously. But it’s interesting to know he’s decided on a campaign logo with the simple message of Jeb!

Omitting his last name is a rather obvious ploy for obvious reasons. I suspect there are a not-insignificant number of Americans who think that Jeb Bush is actually his brother George operating under a false flag in defiance of the Twenty-Second Amendment. But the idea you used to hear in Republican circles that a Hillary Clinton candidacy relieved Jeb of any dynastic problems no longer holds any sway.

As for the exclamation point…well, there may have been other precedents, but I can remember just two Republicans at the presidential level using it. First of all there was Rocky! for Nelson Rockefeller. At the time William F. Buckley suggested that a mere “Rocky” wasn’t enough to convey the intended excitement of a Rockefeller candidacy, while “Rocky! Ahhhh!” might be a bit much. And the current senior senator from Tennessee ran for president twice under the label “Lamar!” which became something of a joke since neither candidacy exactly took off.

Indeed, the second Alexander candidacy was crushed under the wheels of the last presidential aspirant with the last-name-we-do-not-speak-of, immediately after the Iowa Straw Poll that breathed its last breath three days ago. Some things do change in presidential politics, but apparently not the belief in the transitive properties of phony enthusiasm.

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.