When Jeb Bush surprisingly announced his candidacy for president, pundits of all political stripes said it was a political masterstroke because it caught his rivals off-guard. Fast forward to today. Those pundits are singing a different tune:

“We’ve learned that the prospect of a big financial advantage is not going to keep people out of the race and that the notion of a new face is stronger than we might have thought,” Vin Weber, an outside Bush adviser, said in an interview. “That requires modest adjustments in strategy, not wholesale changes.” After weeks of bad press, “donors were getting a little edgy,” Weber said. “No one is ready to jump ship. Nobody has lost heart. But they have watched other candidates rise in the polls.”

At first, pundits said that Jeb’s team was seasoned. The reality is that Jeb’s team is all but fossilized. Vin Weber is to GOP politics what Bob Shrum is to Democratic politics. He’s got a great reputation and a lengthy losing streak. Jeb’s problem is that he hired guys with great reputations rather than picking the best and the brightest.

Washington’s pundits didn’t think things through. They thought that hiring people with lengthy resumes equated to hiring the best people. They’re seeing now that that isn’t the truth. The bad news is that that’s the least of Team Jeb’s worries:

On the stump, Bush has stuck to his pledge not to shift to the right to win the nomination, but his middle-of-the-road positions on immigration and education have come off more as out of step with the base of his party than shrewdly pragmatic. His wonky question-and-answer exchanges with voters sometimes resemble college lectures rather than a disarming appeal for votes.

Jeb’s biggest problem is Jeb. He’s robotic. He’s interested in antagonizing conservatives. There isn’t a mindset of ‘let’s win this together’. It’s mostly about Jeb.

That’s harmed other parts of Jeb’s campaign:

His operation’s ability to rake in large checks also fueled inflated expectations. Supporters acknowledged this week that an allied super PAC was likely to fall short — perhaps substantially — of predictions that it would bring in $100 million in the first half of the year.

If Jeb isn’t able to carpet-bomb the rest of the GOP field into submission, he won’t win the nomination. He simply isn’t a top tier candidate otherwise. Otherwise, he’s just another legacy candidate living off past headlines.

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