Jeb Bush: When I talk about anchor babies, I'm talking about organized efforts more common to Asian people

Via Mediaite, I … guess that’s one way to wriggle out of a tough spot. “I wasn’t talking about minority group X; I was talking about minority group Y.” Psssst: I hate to tell you but we didn’t do so hot with minority group Y in the last election either.

He’s not wrong about this, by the way, but why we should care more about citizens of one country abusing birthright citizenship than citizens of another isn’t clear to me. The idea, I guess, is that “birth tourism” from China is a matter of premeditated fraud, an organized attempt to exploit the natural-born rules, whereas a couple from Mexico hopping the border and then happening to have a child while they’re working here in the U.S. is … negligence? Forgivable because they’re more likely to be working-class while the couple from China is more likely to be upper-class? I don’t know. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to draw distinctions on this topic. If you support birthright citizenship for everyone born here regardless of how their parents arrived, seems like “birth tourism” is a problem you must be prepared to tolerate unless you want to give women pregnancy tests as a condition of entry, which I’m pretty sure Bush doesn’t want to do. And by the way: Many women exploiting “birth tourism” are here legally on visas, as far as I know. It’s been a staple of this debate over the past week among GOP candidates that when we talk about the problem of birthright citizenship, we’re talking about it as a problem for children of illegals. Jeb, in fact, made that point explicitly on Friday when he distinguished Marco Rubio, who was born here to parents who had come legally. I can understand the argument for granting citizenship to children of legal immigrants but not to children of illegals and I can understand the argument for not granting it to children of either group. I can’t really understand why we need to crack down on citizenship for children of legal immigrants more so than for children of illegal ones.

On a related note, Michael Warren argues that Trump, who was supposed to indirectly help Bush by sucking media oxygen away from more formidable contenders like Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, is actually hurting him now. I agree.

[O]bserve what’s happened in the past month. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina have all seen their poll numbers rise, while Scott Walker, another “acceptable” Republican, has stalled out. The Trump phenomenon seems to have opened up a market for anti-establishment, non-politician candidates, and no one represents the Republican establishment better than Bush. Rather than build on his structural advantages, Bush has had to deal with sharing “frontrunner” status with Trump and the head-to-head comparisons that come with it.

This ought to be an ideal situation for Bush. As one pro-Bush consultant told Politico, “It’s going to come down to Trump v. Somebody and Jeb is the somebody.” But the primaries don’t start next week. What if Republican voters, still evaluating the bloated field of Republican candidates, come away from a few weeks of “Trump v. Bush” and find they agree with Trump’s assessment of Bush? After all, if the party’s base is so sickened of the establishment that it’s willing to consider a relatively liberal, loudmouth reality TV star, GOP voters may not be ready to swallow a third Bush pill—especially when there are other “plausible” choices (unlike the last Republican primary) that both the rank-and-file and the establishment could get behind.

Yup. Trump would be helping Bush if Bush himself were a legit frontrunner with a solid constituency. Trump would clear the field of the rest of Jeb’s challengers, they would go head to head, and Bush would win. But Jeb’s not a legit frontrunner. He’s been underwhelming for months, to the point where Trump seems like a not altogether terrible alternative. He even outperforms Jeb among nonwhite voters(!!) against Hillary in some polls. I doubt Trumpmania would be as potent as it is if Trump’s foil weren’t a guy who seems to have inherited his place in the race from his family. (Speaking of which, enjoy Trump’s latest ad.) Like I said in the Cruz post earlier this afternoon, if Trump rolls on, the donor class may conclude that continuing to push Bush on the party despite mass resistance will be so toxic that it’ll break the whole coalition. Trump’s essentially the kid at the parade pointing out that the emperor has no clothes. If you’re part of the emperor’s retinue, where do you go now to find him some?