Former First Ladies are always extremely well-liked, so if you had to pick one Bush family member who’d be nothing but upside for Jeb in an ad, this is who you’d pick. But let’s be honest: If we’d been told a year ago, in the middle of Jeb’s early “shock and awe” fundraising, that his chances in New Hampshire and South Carolina might come down to reminding people that he’s part of the Bush dynasty, how many of us would have believed it? In an alternate universe where Trump and Rubio didn’t run, this is the stage in the race where Bush is rolling out big Senate endorsements like McCain to try to squash Scott Walker among center-right voters. As it is, trapped in a populist inferno, he’s rolling out his mom, who’d previously objected to the idea of a third Bush presidency but later concluded that Jeb’s a swell enough guy that it’s worth adding another four or eight years to the Bush family’s tenure at the head of the executive branch. Still, though, not a bad desperation play. Imagine how many late deciders there are in New Hampshire right now who can barely tell the difference between Kasich, Christie, Rubio, and Jeb and are grasping for some way to decide. Suddenly Barbara Bush shows up, like a human logo. You’ve bought that product before! Why not?
I’m surprised, though, that he didn’t use Bush 41 in this ad instead. That’s always been the logical counter to fears that Jeb will be another Dubya: I’m more like the Bush who invaded Iraq and left, he could say, than the one who invaded Iraq and stayed. Maybe 41 isn’t physically up to it nowadays, or maybe Jeb’s mindful of the fact that previous Bushes have fared poorly in New Hampshire. Or maybe Jeb’s saving him for the final week in New Hampshire? That would be quite an X factor as everyone’s making up their mind. If Bush 43 is set to reemerge in this race, Bush 41’s got to show up at some point to balance the scale.
I’ll leave you with this, from Kos’s political director:
Hard not to feel at this point that Al Gore's margin over "the smart one" would have been even bigger than it was against W.
— Daily Kos Elections (@DKElections) January 22, 2016
Update: Ah, almost forgot this Trump Instagram ad from last summer.