Two years after the party’s last standard-bearer supported “self-deportation,” any GOP 2016 hopeful knows an even faint defense of deferred deportations or legalization, even temporary, would be painted as amnesty and derided by activists who influence the outcomes in key presidential primary states. Not only did Bush not criticize the substance of Obama’s executive order (deferring deportations, providing entitlement benefits and work permits to undocumented immigrants), he urged the party to see immigration “as an economic tool for sustained growth.” He hardly sounds like a man who is busy behind closed doors trying to convince donors he can overcome the condemnation from Rush Limbaugh and Levin.
Bush has thought about running. Frankly, as a Bush, it is his duty when party stalwarts plead with him to save the party and rescue the country to say, yes, it would be his honor to consider the mission. But he knows more than any candidate, save for Hillary Clinton, who has run her own campaign and was spouse in two, how awful running for president can be. He saw his father and brother each do it twice, followed by what happened once they served as president as well.
People who run for president burn for the prize, focus only on the outcome, so what keeps them going once they realize it’s a buzz saw is drive. Bush has seen the vortex up close, and he doesn’t sound the least bit driven.
Stoddard is an associate editor of The Hill.