Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Jeb Bush has to be perfect

Jeb Bush (photo: CharlieRose.com)

The past couple days have highlighted a serious problem for Jeb Bush's potential candidacy: He's got to be perfect.

We've been hearing for years now that Jeb would make an ideal presidential candidate if his name just weren't "Bush".

Because he's "just.that.good."

The problem is that even if Jeb is a really good candidate, he makes goofs, he flubs, he does everything that all candidates do.

But with a last name of "Bush", Jeb has a very tiny margin of error.

That's because voters will be particularly sensitive to his slightest of flaws. They'll look at Bush's every move through the lens of his father and brother, and the bad stuff will overwhelm the good stuff.

In other words: One boo-boo from Jeb Bush is way more damaging to Jeb Bush than one boo-boo from Chris Christie is to Chris Christie.

Jeb's slightest flaw will provoke "Yup, he's a Bush, what did you expect?!"

A mushy answer will provoke, "Yup. That's a Bush for you."

Even one particularly hawkish statement: "Another Bush, another war!"

He'll fly to Texas for a fundraiser, "Bush courts big oil."

Do voters want to see all that again?

Is Jeb going to get a single benefit of the doubt?

Until this week, Jeb had been living an easy political life. From time-to-time, he'd drop a bomb on his party, earn loads of centrist street cred, provoke some media fawning, and then retreat for a few more months until he wanted to make another splash for a few days.

But now that people will start hearing Jeb and "president" in the same sentence, he might learn very quickly that, yeah, his brother is still the most unpopular, living ex-president and that has political consequences.