Nominating Jeb in 2016 would be nuts

This is a danger sign for Republicans. The plutocratic wing chose the party’s presidential nominee in 2012 and demoralised everybody. At a time when healthcare was Mr Obama’s great offence against the public and the symbol of what was most resented in his style of government, Republicans nominated former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. He was the only US politician to have enacted a plan similar to Mr Obama’s, and therefore the only conceivable nominee who would not be able to use his own party’s strongest arguments. In recent weeks, Mr Bush has made contact with Romney donors. He has auditioned at an unseemly Las Vegas dinner hosted by the gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson, who poured $93m into the last election.

Democrats won the last two presidential elections by nominating someone who inspires their party base, and then battling it out for uncommitted voters. The Republican party is following a different strategy. It is courting money men and trusting that the red-hot rank-and-file members will fall into line, having no place else to go. But they will not. Right now, those voters appear to be gravitating to the conservative Kentucky senator Rand Paul, with his untraditional mix of libertarianism, isolationism and Austrian economics.

Republican candidates generally raise less campaign funding than Democrats do. Beholden to a few big donors, Republicans are left peddling a strategy many of their ordinary activists find repugnant. Mr Bush is being promoted by Republicans whose main interest in the party is that it not nominate someone who will shake up the Obama-era economic settlement. The strategy seems bound to produce an electoral loss. That appears to be of little concern to the people devising it.