The malign influence of Jeb Bush

If, as seems likely, Hillary Clinton becomes the Democratic nominee, the GOP will be presented with a golden opportunity to fashion a campaign built around the promise of change. Hitherto, it has been observed that this is one reason why choosing a Bush as the nominee would be a bad idea: One cannot run the brother of the last Republican president and talk with a straight face about freshness and advance — especially if one hopes to gain an advantage over an opponent who is running as swiftly as possible against pretty much all of her previously held positions. Today, I would like to add to this hypothesis and ask whether it is a problem that Bush is in the race per se.

What good can it do the Right, I wonder, to get itself bogged down in defenses of the Iraq war?; to become embroiled in personalized debates over Middle Eastern chaos?; to hear repeated vestra culpas apropos 9/11? What benefit will conservatism derive from well-publicized spitting matches between a former president who is trying to help his brother and a new class that is trying to get away from him? How useful can it be to force younger candidates — most of whom missed the Iraq debate entirely — into the same pit as those who have already been tarnished?

I bear Jeb Bush no ill will. Indeed, I must confess that I find the intense opprobrium that has been cast in his direction somewhat perplexing in nature. In another set of circumstances, he would perhaps have been exactly what America needed. But we are not in another set of circumstances; rather, we are in the midst of an election that has taken an extremely peculiar turn, and that seems set to continue to make such turns into the foreseeable future. Life isn’t fair. Events overtake plans. Perhaps the time for well-meaning lightning rods is coming quickly to a close?

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