Writing with uncharacteristic acidity in Friday’s Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan offered up an explanation as to why Jeb Bush has thus far failed to deliver on his promise. “Reporters,” Noonan proposed, have tended to assume without cynicism that Bush must be a “national candidate” because he is part of a “national family.” The last few weeks have served to disabuse us of that notion.
We have learned, Noonan records, that Jeb is “only a governor” — no more guaranteed success or assured of greatness than any aspirant with a less recognizable surname. Certainly, his pedigree has ensured that the supply side of his campaign would be taken care of: For almost half a century now, America has been furnished with an ample supply of ambitious, well-funded Bushes. On the demand side, however, things have been far less rosy. If, as I consider likely, Bush eventually recognizes that his overtures have been met with jaded indifference, he will have struck an inadvertent blow for meritocracy and demonstrated an age-old truth, to boot: However much polish and gold the masters of the universe can dispense, there is no easy way to sell a superfluous product. Surveying the present scene, critics of both the “establishment” and that protean supervillain “money” should be breathing a touch more easily.