Poor Jeb

Poor Jeb.

When they write the 2016 campaign books, the Poor Jeb chapter will inevitably be set in Boulder, the site of the third GOP debate. This was where he was supposed to rescue his presidential run. It was where he would come out swinging and, with any luck, knock out that ungrateful twerp, Marco Rubio, his former mentee now trying to ruin his life. Or was it the Donald who was ruining his life?

It was one or the other, or maybe both. But Jeb had already tried to unload on Trump, and that hadn’t worked out so well. Jeb has admitted he can’t fake outrage very well, which is an essential talent for anyone considering a run in a GOP presidential primary. The Donald, meanwhile, majored in outrage of all descriptions. It would be a mismatch every time.

So Jeb would go after Rubio, who owed him, and tie up the establishment vote – such as it is – and reestablish himself as the inevitable candidate once the Donald and the Ben fade away or, better yet, just disappear.

He needed something. His campaign was a disaster, his poll numbers tanking, his money running low, his donors running scared. And to make matters worse, he had embarrassed himself over the weekend at a retreat by whining about how he had cooler things to do than run for president and that if people didn’t like it, they should just vote for the Donald. Not cool.

And so he needed a good debate. He would find his swagger. He would work on his sneer. When he and Rubio met on the stage, they would barely look at each other. They wouldn’t shake hands. It was the intra-Florida showdown playing out half a continent away.

And at the first opportunity, Jeb would take his shot, demanding to know why Rubio had missed so many votes as his senator. To say it was awkward is to say that three Bushes in the White House are at least one too many.

“Because I am a constituent of the senator and I helped him … I expected that he would do constituent service,” Bush said, “which means that he shows up to work.”

Was he outraged? Well, he didn’t just attack Rubio. He attacked … France. Yes. The coup de grace.

“The Senate, what is it like a French work week? You get, like, three days where you have to show up?” Bush said to Rubio, whom he called Marco, because, well, swagger. “You can campaign or just resign and let someone else take the job,” Bush said.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel had called for Rubio to resign. Wasn’t there a trend here?

But who knew that Rubio would duck the punch and land a hard right to Jeb’s nose? Well, everyone knew, except Jeb. This was the moment Rubio was waiting for. He had practiced, too, and he doesn’t even need the practice. Bush had been talking about the absences — a phony attack if ever there was one — for days. He warned people about Rubio as the GOP version of Obama — young and bright, but untested.

But if this was a test, Rubio aced it.

“Over the last few weeks, I’ve listened to Jeb as he has campaigned across the country and he said he was modeling his campaign after John McCain,” Rubio said. “You know how many votes John McCain lost when he was carrying out that furious comeback that you’re now modeling under?

“I don’t remember you ever complaining about John McCain’s vote record, and the only reason you’re complaining about mine is because somebody … has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.”

Bush tried to counter, but Rubio talked right over him. Rubio is young and talented and untested and apparently unable to balance a checkbook. But he knows his low-energy man. They worked together when Bush was governor and Rubio was speaker of the Florida House.

Rubio had already set the tone for the debate by attacking the media, which would become the theme of the night – that and putting the tax code on either the front of a postcard or the inside cover of a pack of matches. The guys at CNBC could fight back, which is more than Bush could say.

What happened?

Well, so much happened it’s hard to know where to start. It didn’t make any sense that Republicans would come to Boulder to debate, but they did, and when they did, the ground shifted. And I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with fracking.

It was Rubio as unanimous pick as winner of the debate. He was already the favorite of the betting markets. If you haven’t bought Rubio stock, now may be the time.

It was Ted Cruz making the case that if you’re going to vote for an obnoxious, anti-establishment loud mouth, it might as well be him.

It was Carson, leading the field in Iowa and beating Trump in a national New York Times poll, showing once again that he has no idea about, or any apparent interest in, anything to do with economic policy. He had nothing to say, but he said it quietly, which is apparently enough to keep him near the top of the polls.

It was the Donald in subdued tones, at least by Trumpian standards.

It was CNBC moderators taking the fight to the candidates and usually losing.

But mostly it was Poor Jeb, who would be happy to know, at least, that there are many cool things to do in Boulder.

Photo credit: DonkeyHotey, Creative Commons, Flickr


  1. Jeb shot himself in the foot when he bashed liberal arts degrees, yet he has one, himself… Some smarts there.

    As a word of warning, though, before we get bandwagon happy- what did everyone like about Obama early on? Oh yeah, his eloquence…

  2. Someone in the Bush camp — perhaps even Jeb?! himself — stumbled across what they think is a winning issue: Telling Americans they don’t work enough or hard enough.

    In July he said, “… people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families.”

    Now in the midst of slamming Rubio, he’s taking a gratuitous (and false) swipe at France, but the essence, once more, is, “You people don’t work enough!”

    Unsurprisingly, nobody in the Jeb?! camp seems to have noticed how much this makes their man seem like an entitled prick lecturing the plebes and serfs.

  3. Personally, I have trouble taking Littwin seriously. He never lies, which means that he is above average for a journalist, but his agenda is not to inform but rather to convince.

  4. If Mr. Littwin thinks Jeb Bush performed poorly just imagine how he must feel about the performance of the CNBC moderators. And you’ll have to imagine it since, true to form, he completely ignored their cringe-inducing, liberal-bias performance.

    This from Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, author, political commentator, and physician Dr. Charles Krauthammer:.

    “I think the panelists were all flaming liberals. I don’t know who said it none of you is going to be a voter in the Republican primary and it showed. I mean, this is just the bias and also the lack of self-restraint, the arrogance, interrupting and it was also disorganized. It was not well done”

    Or this from the Daily Beast:

    “The mainstream media—as represented by the business cable network’s principal moderators, Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick, and especially John Harwood—took it on the chin as candidate after candidate, to hearty applause from the partisan audience at the University of Colorado, pointed out that their questions were inaccurate, unfair, or otherwise plain silly.”

    Or this from Politico:

    “The repeated bursts of anger and anarchy were prompted, in part, by questions from the moderators that veered, at times, beyond sharp into contentiousness. By the end of the first hour, the audience seemed to be siding with the candidates, booing when CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla seemed to play gotcha with Ben Carson about his past work for a questionable company.”

    That Mr. Littwin failed to come to the defense of the moderators tells you everything you need to know about how badly they performed.

    And speaking of things Mr. Littwin has ignored, there’s this from the Wall Street Journal:

    “Hillary Clinton said Wednesday she doesn’t support abolishing the death penalty but would like to see it used more judiciously, another point of contrast with the most liberal members of her party and with her nearest rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.”

    As members of Mr. Littwin’s vast audience know he is a long time opponent of the death penalty, “Before we go any further, I should say that I’m opposed to capital punishment in all cases.”. And lately he has gone off the deep end opposing even the existence of capital punishment laws.

    Will this affect his support of Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations?

    Well, the short answer is no. The long answer is hhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeelllllllllllllll nnnnnnnnoooooo!

    But it does demonstrate how, well, flexible his “belief system” is. Plus—as is his wont—he simply ignores contradictions in much the same way he ignores things he believes aren’t noteworthy like Veterans Day (November 11th).

    His pseudo-journalistic style provides further proof—as if further proof was needed–of the close relationship between “ignore” and “ignorance”.


    “But let’s be clear about precisely what kind of (political) choice this is. Congress’s decision not to pass background checks is not what’s keeping the US from European gun violence levels. The expiration of the assault weapons ban is not behind the gap. What’s behind the gap, plenty of research indicates, is that Americans have more guns. The statistics are mind-blowing: America has 4.4 percent of the world’s population but almost half of its civilian-owned guns.
    Realistically, a gun control plan that has any hope of getting us down to European levels of violence is going to mean taking a huge number of guns away from a huge number of gun owners.” Dylan Matthews, Vox.com

    Courage enlarges, cowardice diminishes resources. In desperate straits the fears of the timid aggravate the dangers that imperil the brave. – Christian Nestell Bovee

    “The resistance of liberals in the media to new ideas was enormous. Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but that’s simply not true! Liberalism has sadly become a knee-jerk ideology, with people barricaded in their comfortable little cells. They think that their views are the only rational ones, and everyone else is not only evil but financed by the Koch brothers. It’s so simplistic!” – Camille Paglia Salon

    “I support anyone’s right to be who they want to be. My question is: to
    what extent do I have to participate in your self-image?” – Dave Chappelle

    “This new Dream, seeking revolutionary change in how America works, is not only impossible, but based on the faulty assumption that black Americans are the world’s first group who can only excel under ideal conditions. We are perhaps the first people on earth taught to consider it insulting when someone suggests we try to cope with the system as it is—even when that person is black, or even the President.” – John McWhorter, Daily Beast

    “..Bernie(Sanders)is the most benign of summer flings.” Mike Littwin

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Greenlight a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Veterans Day – November 11, 2015

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