Jeb Bush is gearing up for his own presidential run, hoping to take advantage of Hillary Clinton being the likely Democratic nominee in 2016. Analysts predict a Bush-Clinton dynasty rematch will be seen as stale and boring by voters, and depress turnout to the extent that a GOP candidate could win nationwide again, despite the nation's browner, less Republican-friendly, changing demographics.
Veteran political journalist Joe Conason recently reminded us there are many things voters don't know yet about Jeb's years in Florida, from his shady business dealings to his tenure as an extremely right-wing Governor. For example:
"If Bush runs, extremism and corruption in the Sunshine State during his tenure will provide ample fodder for investigative reporters and primary opponents, as will many episodes in his long business career. Five months after he left the governor's mansion in 2007, he joined Lehman Brothers as a 'consultant.' No doubt he was well-compensated, as reporters may learn if and when he releases his tax returns someday. The following year, Lehman infamously went bust—and left the state of Florida holding about $1 billion worth of bad mortgage investments.
There are many equally fascinating chapters in the Jeb dossier, rooted in his declaration three decades ago that he intended to become 'very wealthy' as a developer and, yes, a 'consultant.' His partners back then included a certain Miguel Recarey, whose International Medical Centers allegedly perpetrated one of history’s biggest Medicare frauds. Indicted by the feds, Recarey fled the country—but not before Jeb placed a call on his behalf to his presidential dad’s health and human services secretary, Margaret Heckler. For serving as the flunky of a crook, he received a generous tip of $75,000 from Recarey, a mob associate."
Today's announcement by Jeb that he would "actively explore" running for President comes as no surprise. The Bush family has been grooming him for the presidency for the past quarter century, and originally planned for him to run in 2000. Until something called democracy got in the way when Jeb lost his first race for Governor of Florida in 1994, thanks to legendary Florida Democrat Lawton Chiles. Jeb had to wait to win until his second try in 1998, the same year George W. was re-elected to the top job in Texas. Which is how W. ended up with just enough experience mis-governing a large red state to be a credible GOP contender for the 2000 nomination.
And we all know how that turned out. After the debacle of W.'s presidency, why would anyone vote for another Bush? Unfortunately, history fades fast in America, even more so now that we're living in a 24-7 news cycle when the latest shiny distraction is all that seems to matter. As Conason warns, "If Jeb runs for president, it will be fascinating to see whether the mainstream press, which vetted his brother George W. so inadequately during the 2000 presidential race, performs any better this time." America shouldn't count on it.