Bush won the presidency, and a family template was set. In 2000, George W. Bush ran by promoting himself as a “compassionate conservative,” which, like “kinder, gentler,” suggested, without flat-out saying so, that there was something wrong with other Republicans.
Now comes Jeb Bush. There are conservatives who will gag at what he’s doing, just like older ones gagged at “kinder, gentler” and “compassionate conservative.” But Jeb’s critics will have to confront this question: Can they name any Republicans not named Bush who have been elected president in the last 30 years? The fact is, the Bushes are the only Republicans who have cracked the code for winning the White House in more than a generation. Maybe that will change in 2016, but Jeb Bush will have his supporters.
Jeb speaks of George H.W. Bush with enormous reverence. “My dad is the greatest man alive, and if anybody disagrees, we’ll go outside,” he said in Detroit. Now, he’s doing more than just paying tribute. He’s adapting his father’s game for 2016.