In 2015, Bush’s political strengths — a discursive, engaged speaking style and a famous name — are weaknesses in a roiling digital space dominated on the right by the quickest, loudest, most self-consciously outsider voices. And his weaknesses hurt more. Bush conceded last week that debates are “not my forte.” (They’ve never been.) Debates, though, now carry outsize importance. They’re the only time you have voters’ attention in this noisy environment.
And the problem with that noisy environment is that it’s not just about having campaign operatives of the Twitter age, or appearing in short candid-style videos for Facebook, or being an early adopter of tech — it’s about understanding that politics is the noisy environment now.
This isn’t about his age; some politicians make themselves care about technology, and Hillary Clinton’s emails include her puzzling to figure out emojis and LinkedIn. Jeb, by contrast, likes to dismiss the digital space where his campaign was dismantled while he sneered and left it to the hired help. “Look, I don’t follow Twitter, I don’t worry about it,” he said recently.