It seems to me that the problem with Jeb Bush is that he’s still trying to make “fetch” happen, where “fetch” = “Jeb!” Unlike a lot of people, I feel sorry for Jeb because I think he’s an honorable and capable guy, even if he’s never been my first choice for president or the nomination. But, sort of like that AOL banner, he’s just so 1990s. His basic attitude is that there’s nothing wrong with America that 4 percent growth won’t fix. He’s not only a pre-Obama candidate, he’s a pre–George W. candidate. His problems mostly speak well of him as a person, but don’t bode well for his campaign.
The bigger problem is that the longer he stays in, the more he helps Trump. Going by Twitter and e-mail at least, there’s still this bizarre notion out there that opposition to Trump amounts to support for Jeb. That might have had superficial plausibility when Jeb was a front-runner or even a top-tier candidate. But now?
The whole rationale for Trump’s candidacy was based on exploiting animosity towards the “establishment.” Jeb represents the establishment for lots of people, fairly or not. If Jeb bows out, that would give a lot of Trump supporters a victory and an excuse to look elsewhere. I hate saying candidates should drop out before the first ballot is cast, but at the very least, if Bush does poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire, he should hang it up. The sooner Trump can’t claim he’s the alternative to the “establishment,” the sooner more people will look at alternatives to Trump.