He's running: Jeb Bush to release new e-book, 250,000 e-mails from his terms as Florida governor

“[T]his isn’t someone simply dipping his toes into the presidential waters,” says NBC, “it’s someone who’s bouncing up and down on the diving board.”

I’m interested in the timetable. Did he intend to release these e-mails this early all along or has Romneymania! forced him to get in sooner for fear that Mitt will gobble up all of his would-be donors?

Jeb Bush says he is planning to release 250,000 e-mails from his years as governor of Florida as well as a new e-book — perhaps the firmest indication to date he is moving toward a presidential run…

“One of the things I am going to do as I go through this process is release all of my e-mails and write an e-book, which has been kind of fun to go back and to think about this, and remind myself that if you run with big ideas and then you’re true to those ideas, and get a chance to serve and implement them and do it with passion and conviction, you can move the needle,” Bush told WPLG’s Glenna Milberg. “And that’s what we need right now in America.”

Bush said the e-mails would be made public early next year. He decided to release them, he said, in the interest of “transparency” and in order to “let people make up their mind.”

A smart point by Robert Costa: Drumming up media interest in gubernatorial e-mails is a sly way by Bush to put pressure on Chris Christie and Scott Walker, each of whom has been dragged into a scandal involving staffers and their online communications. Jeb knows who his chief competition is on the center-right and it’s not Rand Paul or Ted Cruz.

Sounds like he’s ready. But is he ready for this? Is America?

It seems fitting that there’s a corollary to “Ready for Hillary” for Mitt Romney since, per David Harsanyi, they’re actually similar in many ways. They’re both bad at retail politics generally but excellent at making friends with rich people, both disdained by their party’s base but beloved by their party’s establishment for being safe, ostensibly electable counters to grassroots ideologues’ fringier impulses. (Emphasis on “ostensibly.” Both candidates are distinguished by losing a national election to Barack Obama.) The chief arguments for both revolve around “name recognition,” money, and connections, not anything resembling an attractive policy vision. I think we’re destined to see them face off. Unless, of course, we end up with a royal reprise of the 1992 Bush vs. Clinton election.

Speaking of which, a smart friend who works in politics e-mailed me this weekend after he read this post. Why, I wondered on Friday, would Bush be looking to antagonize conservatives right out of the gate a la Jon Huntsman? Even if he wins the nomination with no help from tea partiers, he’ll still need them to turn out in the general election. There’s a simple answer, said my friend. One word: Strategery.

This schtick reminds me of Arlen Specter in 2009. The reality was, he was just behind the times. The power in the PA GOP shifted west, and he was a guy from the east. So he bailed, but he fed the press a bunch of bullsh*t about it being an ideological thing.

Jeb’s problem, push comes to shove, is that he’s a decade past his expiration date. He’s a Bush. He wants the Feds to tinker with education. He was last elected in 2002. Left, right, center, whatever, he is just not where *anybody* in the party is.

So what he is actually going to try to do is drive a WEDGE between the very conservative and the somewhat conservative voters by picking a phony fight with the “fringe” in the hopes that he can pick up enough of the pieces. Get the somewhat conservative voters not to think, “Ugh … another Bush!” but “Thank God Jeb saves us from the nutjobs!”

It is very cynical. He is taking a sh*t on the voters who overwhelmingly voted for his family in 1988, 1992, 2000, 2004. And then he’ll turn around to depend on them to defend against the suddenly dangerous HRC, who of course is now good buddies with the Bushies.

About Friday’s NYT piece, he continued, “Giving a scoop to the NYT with glowing quotes from James Baker? Did we timewarp back to 1997?” Heh. Is he right, though, that knocking conservatives will just be Jeb’s way of ingratiating himself to tea-party-hating center-righties, whose support he desperately needs? I’m inclined to accept that simply because no other theory makes sense; it’s true that Jeb won’t be getting many votes on the right, no matter how much lip service he pays to it, but he can’t alienate righties too much and remain viable in the general. He needs a good reason to take them on in the primaries and my friend’s theory is, at first blush, a good reason. Given the establishment hype that will inevitably surround a Bush candidacy, though, I don’t see how him being “old news” will hurt him much. He’ll have a few hundred million dollars behind him trying to convince people of the opposite, that he’s the sort of visionary that the GOP needs. And to the extent that he does feel like “old news,” the type of voter he’s wooing might welcome that. If you’re open to a Jeb Bush candidacy in the first place, odds are it’s because you don’t like the direction the party’s gone during the tea-party era. Jeb promising a return to good government, if not small government, should be appealing to center-righties, especially if, as expected, Rubio and Romney pass on the race after Bush jumps in and Christie ends up irritating everyone on the stump. That’ll leave Jeb the only game in town against the right-wingers. Except for Scott Walker, of course.

Long story short, how does this “speaking truth to tea-party power” strategy by Bush help him with the demographic he’s targeting in the primaries more than it hurts him with another demographic he’ll need in the general?