Following up my previous post, as to why exactly Jeb will be the GOP’s 2016 candidate: he is the only one currently in the picture who a) is acceptable to the Establishment, and b) is electable. Here is why each other potential candidate will lose.
Rand Paul – is almost as unacceptable to the Baby Boomers of the Establishment as his old man. Actually, he is probably MORE unacceptable because he would be a more appealing and viable candidate in a general election. I don’t care how much he raises through Internet “moneybombs.” He will find he has fewer credible endorsements from members of the Establishment, or people who wish to be members of the Establishment, than Charles Manson. The media will forever portray him as a sideshow, the various state and local party apparatchiks will dismiss him as a crazy, and he will simply never be able to gain a toehold.
Ted Cruz – besides being unelectable in a general election for his extremism, he would be considered a political unreliable. He isn’t particularly pro- or anti-Establishment, but as a True Believer, upholding of the status quo isn’t considered a particularly important part of his agenda. His neutrality alone ensures he cannot be nominated. The idea of, say, FoxNews or National Review turning on a pureblood conservative like Cruz if he gets momentum in the primaries is particularly rich, but it will happen if he starts to look like a threat. The conservative media knows where its bread is buttered, same as the mainstream media.
Marco Rubio – he badly stumbled on his handling of immigration, which left him in the rear of the 2016 pack in terms of electability. And with a much more conventional and reliable Florida pol on deck, Rubio would have to run the table with the early engagements and debates before the nonpartisan Establishment and their money would give him a serious second look.
Chris Christie – Even before Bridgegate, he always struck me as being too headstrong to be considered reliable and safe by the elite, as much as he tried to suck up to them. His famous Youtube engagements made him popular with the masses, but repelled the elites by equal measures. He had his chance in 2012, but unwisely decided to pass. And even though he was officially exonerated in Bridgegate, doubts remain. I don’t see him having a prayer unless Jeb’s campaign spectacularly implodes on a Rick Perry level (it won’t).
Rick Perry – Speaking of: Baby Boomers are nothing if not superficial, and the Youtube clips of his 48 seconds of fail during that one debate will forever define him. Consider the example of ex-Ravens player Ray Rice: when his crimes were described merely with words, he gained nothing but shrugs and a slap on the wrist by the powers that be. But when the video surfaced, he got hit by the hammer of Thor — despite the fact that no new information was revealed. It’s all about appearances, and for that reason, Perry’s campaign is dead before it leaves the gate.
Bobby Jindal – The same issues that Cruz has, with the added penalty of having far less charisma and being far nuttier. This guy’s 2016 hopes are DOA.
Ben Carson – He would have backing, if it weren’t for the fact that he’s never held public office in his life, which renders him unelectable. He should start off by running for the Senate somewhere and seeing where that leads him. I’ll eat my keyboard with a side of coleslaw if he hasn’t already been advised of this.
Mike Huckabee – No. Just, no.
Paul Ryan – I think Ryan represents the only serious theoretical challenger for Jeb in 2016. He is fervently pro-Establishment, he is not prone to gaffes, and his campaign would run a tight ship. The problems are: a) he’s already failed once on a national ballot, which renders him “tainted” in some minds, and b) he’s only a Representative, when it is generally accepted that viable candidates must have served as Governor, Senator or Vice-President. (Or general, if you want to reach back far enough.) I think the Establishment’s moneymen will lean on him to wait and see if he can succeed Gov. Walker when his run is up, and then use that as his presidential springboard, mirroring what Ben Carson will surely hear. But all that said: if Jeb somehow stumbles badly, Ryan will be his understudy, more so than Christie.
Still, I don’t think that is going to happen. If you had to ask me which political dynasties define the Establishment more than any others these days, I would have to sit down and think hard before I picked between the Clintons and the Bushes. (The fading Kennedys are of a bygone era, mostly.) There is simply no conceivable way Jeb would stand up to the status quo any more than his brother did (with the one honorable exception of the latter’s firing of Donald Rumsfeld in 2006 — Dick Cheney has said on record that is the one Dubya decision he had a problem with, and no higher praise could ever be uttered in my book).
Also, the GOP itself will desperately want to avoid another 2012 debacle, and will want to smooth out a path to coronation as fast as possible given the fact that the Democratic primaries are basically already over, and the Democratic nominee is already gearing up for the general election. If I were Reince Priebus, I would work with the Establishment as hard as possible behind the scenes to settle on one candidate ASAP, preferably as soon as the 2014 off-year elections are over, and keep the others away from mounting anything but a vanity campaign via threats or bribes. And, really, Jeb is the only logical choice as the GOP’s Hillary.
Therefore, many of even the most rabid Tea Partiers will magically find themselves pulling the lever for Jeb in South Carolina 2016, no matter what they are saying now. That’s just how it works.
Aren’t you proud to participate in democracy these days?