Five days ago, Jeb Bush was outside a hotel in Berlin, straining to evince something other than abject dread at the prospect of running for president.
He stood, rigid and erect, in front of a semi-circle of American political reporters as they peppered him with questions about the recent shake-up inside his campaign-in-waiting. He labored through talking points, his plodding recitation occasionally drowned out by the BMWs and bicyclists whirring by in morning traffic. After about a minute, his answers began to curdle into a quasi-candid airing of grievances about the political process. He scolded the press for their hyperbolic campaign coverage (“I don’t even read the clips”); dismissed the up-and-down nature of the primary polls (“It doesn’t really matter”); and pled for patience and perspective in the early state-of-the-race punditry (“It’s June, for crying out loud!”).
Then, as though suddenly remembering himself, the almost-candidate abandoned candor and returned to script. “It’s a lot of work, and I’m excited about the prospects of this,” Bush said, conveying roughly the same excitement of someone expecting gallbladder surgery. “It’s a long haul.”