On some level, politics is all about the gene. John Ellis doesn’t have it. No zest. No happy warrior thing going on at all. Say what you will about Dubya, and trust me, I said most of it at one time or another. But he had the gene. He liked politics. He enjoyed campaigning. He pinned his shoulders back up on stage, stood erect, gazed upon the crowd with something you might call command. Remember that smirk? Oh God how liberals hated that smirk! I remember how people on my side used to carry on about it, how it betrayed exactly the kind of shoot-first cowboy braggadocio that liberals find repulsive—and indeed, that ended up fucking up a big part of the world to this day. So we were right about that smirk. But at least he was smiling. At least he was up there having fun.
But Jeb. Yeesh. What’s he doing out there? It’s just duty. And not family duty either. Remember, his mom said he shouldn’t do it. His wife seems cool on it. At best. So it’s not family. It’s mostly party duty. Duty to the money people. Class duty.
Watching him I sometimes wonder: How did this guy get to be a governor? One thing I’ve learned in my years of covering politics, one of the more surprising things, I would say, is just how many utter mediocrities become governors. This is understandable in a lot of those puny states out there where the competition ain’t so great. And where either one party or the other is clearly dominant. So if you’re a Republican state legislator in Wyoming and you have a little charisma, or a Democratic mayor of Providence who has successfully avoided indictment for eight years, well, you can get to be governor. The road is not laid with many traps.