Don't fall for that Jeb Bush "nice guy" look

Like father, like son—or perhaps it’s the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Whatever cliché you prefer, one of the useful things about dynasties is that patterns emerge over time. With the Clintons, for instance, we know to pay attention to every modifying word and each verb tense they use (the meaning of “is” and such). The whole truth usually has to be dragged out of them—or discovered independently.

Similarly, an examination of the Bush family legacy in campaigning makes clear that Jeb Bush’s “Mr. Nice Guy” routine isn’t likely to last all that long. Most presidential candidates have a streak of ruthlessness in them—even the nice guys. Make that especially the nice guys. They’re mild-mannered and courteous in public, so someone else has to do the dirty work of winning for them.

Jeb Bush will prove this again. It’s an easy prediction that he’ll follow his brother and father in bushwhacking any opponent standing between him and the presidency. With the Bushes, do not take too seriously their assertions of personal sweetness.

George H.W. Bush called for “a kinder, gentler nation” while accepting the Republican presidential nomination in August 1988. George W. Bush set the goal of “compassionate conservatism” when his turn came in 2000. And now, Jeb Bush promises to “show [his] heart” during his 2016 campaign—one he says he wants to be full of “hugging and kissing.”