What a silly thing to say. Of course the Bushes are all voting for Hillary. Does anyone seriously doubt that?
George P. Bush says he’s the only member of his powerful political family who will be voting straight-ticket Republican and says his grandfather and uncle, both former presidents, could “potentially” cast ballots for Hillary Clinton.
Bush was addressing a small Republican rally in San Marcos, Texas, Tuesday night.
He was pressed later by The Associated Press to clarify his remarks. He said then of George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush: “I don’t know how they voted. I’m speculating, to be honest.”
Asked if either could vote for Clinton, Bush answered: “Potentially. But hard to speculate.”
“Potentially” in this case is code for “obviously, but it’ll be a pain in the ass for everyone if I admit that.” This isn’t (just) a ruling-class-looks-out-for-each-other thing either. Remember, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush became close friends via their charity work after Clinton’s presidency was over, then Dubya and Clinton became buds as well. Bush 43 has described Bill as his “brother from another mother,” which I guess makes the current Democratic nominee his sister-in-law. And it shows:
I assume the Bushes would be willing to lay that aside and vote Republican if there were a traditional Bushian Republican at the top of the ticket, but not only isn’t Trump a Bushian, he’s the family’s bete noire after humiliating Jeb in the primaries. With the possible exception of Ted Cruz, no primary candidate in recent memory has been demeaned as thoroughly by a victorious opponent as “low energy” Jeb was by Trump. (Unlike Cruz, Jeb is on record as saying he won’t vote for Trump next week. But then, unlike Cruz, Jeb has no future in elected office.) Some big-name alumni from Dubya’s administration are also leaning either pro-Clinton or anti-Trump: Colin Powell’s voting for her and Condi Rice actually called on Trump to leave the race after the “Access Hollywood” tape dropped. Dick Cheney is reluctantly on the Trump train, but that’s because his daughter Liz is in the same boat as Cruz is. She wants to be a national figure in the GOP going forward. Step one in that plan is playing ball with the current nominee.
Which, incidentally, explains why the Bushes have kept their Hillary love to themselves. I’ve believed all along that the only reason we haven’t seen a prominent Bush cut a campaign commercial for Clinton is that George P. Bush, the source of this speculation about his grandfather and uncle, has political ambitions himself. He already holds the office of Land Commissioner in Texas, a stepping stone to running for governor sometime during the next decade. If Bush 41 cut an ad for Clinton, that might be held against his grandson by the Republican powers that be, so he’s kept mum. But it ain’t much of a secret which way he’s voting. So much so, in fact, that George P. can’t even bring himself to deny that some of his relatives might be tilting blue this year.
Anyway, all of this will be fun background for the coming Republican show trials if Trump loses:
GOPer tells me: IF Trump doesnt win BUT does better than Romney/McCain did (as seems likely), NeverTrumpers will still have a fight on hands
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 2, 2016
That’s one obvious consequence of the polls tightening this week. A Hillary landslide probably would have meant Trump himself taking the brunt of the anger on the right for the defeat. Trumpers would have defended him with the expected tactics — the media killed him, #NeverTrumpers sabotaged him — but a bad loss in an election that Republicans were supposed to win would obviously say something damning about the caliber of the candidate himself. In all likelihood, after the initial round of recriminations, Trumpers and anti-Trumpers would have settled into an argument about whether nationalism was mainly to blame for the loss because it can’t attract a winning coalition or whether Trump’s many crappy personal attributes spoiled a nationalist victory. As it is, with the election looking tight, we’ll spend much longer in the “dolchstoss phase” bickering over whether #NeverTrumpers sank Trump or whether Trumpers blew the election by nominating him in the first place. Never mind that Clinton seems set to win by hanging on in blue states where the GOP never had much of a chance to begin with. And if Trump outperforms Romney, the next phase after that will be debating whether nationalism is more likely to produce a winning Republican coalition than movement conservatism was or if Trump’s electoral “strength” is really just an artifact of Hillary being a garbage candidate who should have won the race easily.
Here’s David Frum predicting — a day before the Comey news dropped, when the election looked like a lay-up for Clinton — that Trump and his fans would end up as the defendants in Republican show trials after the votes are in. I wonder if he’d like to revisit that prediction now. All I’ll say is what I said last week: You can’t have a useful show trial if the defendant is free to leave at any time. Which both Trumpers and anti-Trumpers are when it comes to the GOP.