Do you see now why Jeb, for all his dynastic entitlement, is a figure to be pitied? Think back to the beginning of this campaign, when he sent right-hand man Mike Murphy off with $100 million to inflict “shock and awe” on the rest of the field. Imagine the sort of advertising firepower Jeb envisioned his Super PAC bringing to bear in order to clear his path to the nomination.
This is what it’s come to. This is the whole Jeb campaign in one image — an antiquated advertising platform, a pitifully weak jab at the bully Trump, an overreliance on the fading authority of the Bush brand, and a bizarre blindness to how this stuff looks to other people. The very saddest part is that it was Murphy himself who posted it on Twitter. He was proud of it. He used it to taunt Trump. That’s like driving past a rich man’s house in a Ford Pinto and shouting “How you like me now?”
I wonder how many people were involved in developing, approving, and paying for that. They could have put anything on the billboard: A few lowlights from Trump’s Democratic past, a few key endorsements for Jeb, a puppy with “Vote Bush!” underneath, you name it. This is what they ended up with. The idea, I assume, was to reinforce in the pithiest way possible the idea that Jeb is the anti-Trump in the race. Team Jeb’s only chance at the nomination at this point is to somehow make the primaries a binary choice between Trump and someone else, on the theory that Trump has a ceiling of around 35-40 percent. Whoever ends up in the “someone else” role gets 60-65 percent of the vote and wins. Jeb’s tried running on his record but he’s still behind Rubio and Christie. He can’t beat them on pure retail skills either. His only chance is to hope that Trump has so thoroughly dominated the race that the majority of the party that doesn’t support him will go into the booth next month in New Hampshire and ask themselves one question: “Who’s been the hardest on Trump?” Who’s fought him with the most relish? Who’s attacked him unapologetically? That’s Bush’s Hail Mary play for a comeback in NH. The billboard, I guess, is Murphy’s way of communicating “BUSH HATES TRUMP” to those voters with as much brevity as he can. The quote about Trump being unhinged, though, is so mundane that you walk away wondering who could have thought it was memorable enough to warrant being broadcast on a billboard. After six months of trading shots with Trump, this is the most memorable zinger Jeb has thrown at him? It’s almost more an advertisement of Jeb’s haplessness on the trail than it is an attack on Trump.
The photoshops are already flying fast and furious on Twitter. In lieu of an exit question, I’ll leave you with this:
— John Ekdahl (@JohnEkdahl) January 7, 2016