Bush-Cheney 2012!

While it’s common to dismiss Jeb as the heir to a tarnished political dynasty, it’s worth remembering that dynasties emerge for a reason. While any number of sane Republicans will bow out of the 2012 race in order to maintain domestic peace and their bank accounts, political heirs tend to have a sense of duty that transcends such considerations. A few months back, Jeb Bush bowed out of Florida’s 2010 U.S. Senate race, but only after gently suggesting that he might jump in the fray. Now that Gov. Charlie Crist is running for the seat, many Florida conservatives believe that Jeb is conspiring against him. I doubt it. With Obama’s popularity in the stratosphere, with his family’s legacy under threat, and with private life proving more boring than expected, Jeb has bigger fish to fry.

I’ll also note that there’s a reason Bushes have succeeded where other Republicans have failed. The family, and Jeb Bush in particular, manages to reconcile many of the tensions and contradictions that have rankled the party. For example, the GOP is anti-elitist. Yet Mike Huckabee, an authentic by-his-bootstraps populist, was dismissed by the party’s actual elite as a country yokel. Republicans are increasingly a Southern and evangelical party, yet they do best when they appeal to non-Southern suburbanites and Catholics. The Bush family, with its Yankee and Ivy League origins and its oil-patch mythology, is both Northern and Western. Jeb himself is a convert to Catholicism, who speaks fluent Spanish and is very much a creature of the Sun Belt. It helps that he is, as even his rivals will acknowledge, dazzlingly intelligent. He does have skeletons in his closet, including supposed ties to anti-Castro extremists. But for Republicans there really is no better candidate.