On February 20, 2016, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush decided to suspend his campaign for President on the Republican ticket after a disappointing showing in the South Carolina primary, in which he placed a distant fourth behind Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.
Although Jeb Bush’s policies as Governor of Florida included tax cuts for the wealthy, the creation of charter schools and tough-on-crime bills, he predicated his campaign for the White House on being the more moderate of the candidates, particularly in regard to immigration and education reform. He was also critical of the Republican Party’s hard shift to the right, but during an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity in October 2015, he defended his older brother George W. Bush’s decisions as 43rd President of the United States following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001:
“When we were attacked, my brother created an environment where for 2,600 days, we were safe. No one attacked us again. And he changed the laws, he did everything necessary, he united the country, and he kept us safe. Just a tip of the hat to that.”
However, Jeb Bush was no doubt aware that many American voters would never forget his older brother’s cockeyed response to the tragedy on September 11 in the form of waging two costly and ineffective wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, his concurrent erosion of civil liberties, his indifferent handling of Hurricane Katrina and its subsequent damage to a wide swath of the Gulf Coast, his pandering to homophobic voters while campaigning for a second term in 2004 and his deregulation of Wall Street, which brought about the 2008 financial crisis and the ensuing recession. As such, he did his best to distance himself from his brother’s Presidency, complete with a logo that prominently featured his nickname in bold red letters with an exclamation point, which made him the laughingstock of Twitter.
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) June 14, 2015
Jeb Bush's campaign logo looks like the noise a Batman punch would make. pic.twitter.com/GnRB2jzCOX
— Talmadge Blevins (@talign) June 14, 2015
I went ahead and translated Jeb's logo into Spanish for him. Seems like a huge oversight. pic.twitter.com/3ljntvrJ9z
— Michael Deppisch (@deppisch) June 14, 2015
By November 2015, his dismal standing among the other Republican candidates resulted in “Is Jeb Bush still running for President?” becoming the number one Google search attached to his name. One month later, it transpired that because Bush had decided not to buy the web domain JebBush.com, the owner decided to redirect it to Donald Trump’s website.
Shortly after the beginning of 2016, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reported that morale was low among Jeb Bush’s major donors as many believed that they were “throwing their money away” and said that they “were waiting for the green light to jump ship.” Aglow with righteous schadenfreude, Maddow cracked:
“These are all high-level Jeb Bush supporters, but they’re willing to give a deadly quote like that to the press about Jeb. With friends like these, who needs far more skilled and attractive competitors?”
Perhaps the moment when it became painfully apparent that Jeb Bush’s Presidential campaign was dead in the water was when he had to beg for applause at a town hall event in New Hampshire on February 4, 2016. At that point, there’s no choice but to realize that it’s finished. Then again, it’s doubtful that he ever would have escaped the shadow cast by his older brother’s shenanigans as President.
Whatever the case may be, at least we can now all breathe a sigh of relief and knock on wood because the Bush family’s influence on the American political landscape has at long last subsided.
Featured Photo Credit: Jeb Bush (NBC)