The agony of Jeb Bush

29 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Analysis: Bush comeback strategy backfires in GOP debate.

CNBC struck an unapologetic stance against criticism of the way its three moderators handled Wednesday night’s debate among Republican Presidential candidates, suggesting its journalists simply did their job, asking questions without fear or favor. “The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” Senator Ted Cruz said last night, drawing himself up in a way that made him appear to slightly inflate.“If they’re looking for an entertainer in chief, I’m probably not the guy,” former frontrunner Jeb Bush confessed to CNN, minutes after the third Republican debate.If you knew absolutely nothing about American politics and tuned into the Republican presidential debate Wednesday night, you would have come away convinced that the GOP is the party of the little guy, the party that wants to advocate for low-wage workers, middle-class families, and those who are struggling. With Trump surprisingly subdued last night in the third-round debate in Boulder, Colorado, other candidates were able to swoop in and steal the show: namely, Sen.

All tire enjoy reputations as savvy chroniclers of Wall Street and national news, and all three are former staffers of The Wall Street Journal, employed there prior to its being taken over by Rupert Murdoch. And, you look at the questions: ‘Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain?’ ‘Ben Carson, can you do math?’ ‘John Kasich, will you insult two people over here?’ ‘Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign?’ ‘Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?’ How about talking about the substantive issues the people care about?” He got a big round of applause, which Carlos Quintanilla, one of the moderators for CNBC, tried to interrupt, asking, “Do we get credit…,” before Cruz interrupted him again. “The contrast with the Democratic debate, where every fawning question from the media was ‘Which of you is more handsome and why?’ ” Cruz said. Instead of generating much needed momentum, Bush’s attack on his onetime protege raised new questions about his underwhelming candidacy in the primary contest he was once expected to dominate. That wasn’t quite how anyone who saw that debate would remember it, but the Senator just shook his head, compared the Democrats to “the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks,” and wondered at the implausibility of a debate moderator voting in a Republican primary.

If somebody told you that this party’s last presidential nominee got in a heap of trouble for contemptuously saying that 47 percent of Americans are lazy leeches who just want to live off government handouts while the morally upstanding wealthy do all the work, you’d respond, “Surely you must be mistaken.” Like many of the candidates, Ted Cruz has a flat tax plan, which because it eliminates tax progressivity would entail huge tax cuts for the wealthy. And Bush’s continued struggles highlight a deepening sense of uncertainty settling over a 2016 Republican presidential race that remains crowded and without a clear front-runner. Quintanilla tried again to be heard over the laughter of the crowd before he managed to say, somewhat forlornly, “I asked you about the debt limit and I got no answer.” For the record, this was the question that inspired Cruz’s rant about insubstantiality: “Congressional Republicans, Democrats, and the White House are about to strike a compromise that would raise the debt limit, prevent a government shutdown and calm financial markets that fear of—another Washington-created crisis is on the way.

What’s lethal for Jeb Bush’s presidential ambitions, however, is not the mere fact that he underwhelms on the debate stage, but the particular reasons he underwhelms—these five perhaps above all. He described it by saying, “The billionaire and the working man, no hedge fund manager pays less than his secretary.” In the course of arguing (from what I could tell) that all taxation is theft, Mike Huckabee said, “This is for the guy, you know, who owns a landscaping business out there.

Does your opposition to it show that you’re not the kind of problem-solver American voters want?” Given that Cruz’s previous responses to such crises have included filibustering the Senate with a reading of “Green Eggs and Ham,” and that he has, in just the past month, been involved in a squabble with his fellow Republicans over his efforts to make the debt ceiling a hostage in the fight against Planned Parenthood, it was a pretty good question, which Cruz blithely ignored. He arrived at both the second and third debates with plans of attack against his chief rivals of the moment: Donald Trump last time, Marco Rubio this time. If somebody’s already stolen money from you, are you going to give them more?” Carly Fiorina, a former corporate CEO whose biggest accomplishment was the disastrous merger between HP and Compaq, and who is worth tens of millions of dollars, railed against corporate mergers and the wealthy. “Big and powerful use big and powerful government to their advantage,” she said. “It’s why you see Walgreens buying Rite Aid. In a tweet, Harwood said moderating the debate “enriched my understanding of challenges @SpeakerBoehner has faced and @RepPaulRyan will face.” Quintanilla also put on a smile, using Twitter to poke fun at the proceedings. “I’ll say this much: everyone should moderate a debate, once. With his powerful family on hand, Bush spent much of the weekend huddling behind closed doors outlining a strategy that depended, above all else, on challenging Rubio.

Becca Stanek “The two candidates to thrive were a pair of senators who have been slowly but clearly gaining strength over the last few weeks: Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Even before the debate ended, CNBC was being roundly criticized—Reince Priebus, the head of the Republican National Committee, tweeted that CNBC “should be ashamed of how this debate was handled”—and, to be clear, the moderators did fail. Rubio has emerged as something of a bettor’s favorite: Though he still lags in the polls, pundits who assume Donald Trump and Ben Carson can’t win have tabbed him as the man to benefit. The mild-mannered Bush mustered up an attack on Rubio for missing so many votes in the Senate. “Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term, and you should be showing up to work.

When Marco Rubio brushed off criticism of Rubio’s absenteeism from the Senate by invoking John McCain, Bush could have hit back hard. “Seriously Marco? The polished, poised Rubio repeatedly turned what might have been tough questions around on the questioner.” “[Marco Rubio] was good in the first two debates. It is because the moderators utterly failed to control a group of candidates whose level of detachment from facts and vitriol seemed to surprise them when it shouldn’t have. McCain is an American hero, he’s chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he created the 9/11 commission, he’s written more laws than you’ve read. You can campaign, or just resign and let someone else take the job.” The first-term senator, Bush’s junior by 18 years, quickly charged that Bush had praised Arizona Sen.

The long-awaited showdown between Rubio and Bush wound up being a romp; Jeb tried to attack on Rubio’s Senate attendance but got schooled by a very well-prepared Rubio.” “Cruz had the single most memorable moment of the debate when, early on, he took on the CNBC moderators for the alleged “gotcha” questions they were asking. John McCain, who has missed many votes as well. “I don’t remember you ever complaining about John McCain’s vote record,” Rubio said. “The only reason why you’re doing it now is because we’re running for the same position, and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.” The fresh-faced senator then pivoted beautifully: “My campaign is going to be about the future of America, it’s not going to be about attacking anyone else on this stage.” Ari Fleischer, who worked in the George W. Frankly, you’ve never done anything.” Then—sticking the knife in—“Why Marco, you even failed to pass the immigration amnesty deal you co-wrote with Chuck Schumer.” If somebody writes an attack line for him, he can deliver it—unenthusiastically, emphasis in the wrong places, undramatically—but still: It’s delivered.

That is who I’m fighting for.” “Wall Street is doing great,” Cruz said later, and “today the top 1 percent earn a higher share of our income than any year since 1928,” while the Federal Reserve has apparently caused the price of hamburgers to skyrocket. Ben Carson said that when it comes to regulations, “The reason that I hate them so much is because every single regulation costs in terms of goods and services. They defended themselves, their records, and went on the offensive at all the right times, calling out the moderators on unfair questions that were focused less on policy than on personality.”

Carly Fiorina, notably, just started talking when she wanted; at the very end, she had a brief blinking contest with Harwood, who surrendered with a weary “All right, go ahead.” Again, by this point in the campaign, the moderators really should have known better. For example, when Becky Quick asked Trump why he’d been critical of Mark Zuckerberg’s call for more H1B visas for tech workers, and Trump denied that he had been, she seemed surprised, saying, “Where did I read this and come up with this that you were?”—as if he would tell her. “I don’t know—you people write the stuff,” Trump said. A minute later, when Quick tried to follow up by noting that Trump had called Marco Rubio “Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Senator because he was in favor of the H1B,” Trump replied, “I never said that. Doesn’t hurt rich people if their bar of soap goes up ten cents, but it hurts the poor and the middle class.” As it happens, the truth is that Bush’s tax plan showers its biggest benefits on the wealthy, not the middle class, both in percentage terms and in absolute terms. Yet his fundraising should improve coming off a strong performance on national television. “This is all part of slowly moving up in the process,” Rubio’s campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, said after the debate.

Bush.” The soft-spoken retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who has led recent polls, flashed his personality at times, but struggled to articulate his policies at others. The first is that if you’re going to cut everyone’s taxes, of course the wealthy will benefit more, because they pay at higher rates and their incomes are higher. But that’s not the only thing they are, or have to be, and it’s the quality and character of a presidential candidate to elevate them into something more. But that was a rejection of questions about Gingrich’s personal life (“despicable” questions, Gingrich said) and not of fact-based queries altogether.

Quick pressed too much and with too much alarm about Rubio, the father of four school-age children, taking money out of his retirement savings, at a cost to him and his family of thousands of dollars. Paul is in a tough situation because he is running for reelection for Senate in Kentucky, and some want him to quit the presidential run and focus on the Senate. As Philip Marlowe says to Terry Lennox in Chandler’s The Long Goodbye: “You talk too damn much, and it’s too damn much about you.” More and more, it seems no coincidence that he succeeded in government so long, and only so long, as a real estate bubble lifted his state’s economy. My dad was a bartender, my mother was a maid.” He said that after getting married he had to explain to his wife “why someone named Sallie Mae was taking a thousand dollars out of our bank account every month.” Rubio did well all around (my colleague John Cassidy writes about why he was the big winner), including when Jeb Bush tried, with an ill-conceived feint, to cut him down. He instituted a program pretty much exactly like what today’s Republican candidates propose: large tax cuts targeted mostly at the wealthy combined with slashing regulations.

The issue was Rubio’s frequent absence from the Senate—the occasion for another of the questions Cruz objected to, based on a call in an editorial in the Florida Sun-Sentinel for Rubio to resign. Rubio had already dealt with the question, inevitably, by attacking the press: “It’s actually evidence of the bias that exists in the American media today,” he said of the editorial. Bush asked if he could jump in, “because I’m a constituent of the Senator and I helped him and I expected that he would do constituent service, which means that he shows up to work.” Whoever told Bush, who so often in his life has been given well-paid opportunities through family or political connections, that he should put Rubio in his place by calling him an employee who had failed to provide good “service,” is not advising him very well. But if that’s your explanation for why his economic record was so poor, then you’re saying that neither cutting taxes nor cutting regulations would make much of a difference; all that matters is the size of government.

But he lost the stage, having demonstrated only the sort of petulance that he showed last weekend, when he complained that there were a lot of “really cool things” that he could be doing besides running for President. But then how could they explain the Clinton years, when the economy added 22 million jobs despite the fact that taxes went up, regulations increased, and government grew? His only memorable moment came when he bragged about how well his fantasy-football team was doing—“Gronkowski is still going strong!”—better, it seems, than his fantasy Presidential campaign.

Even when those policies fail to deliver us all to the economic Shangri-La conservatives promise, they do not lose faith in the policies’ righteousness. It fits the Democratic narrative of Republicans’ War on Women, just as George Stephanopoulos asked Mitt Romney whether states have the right to ban contraception in a 2012 presidential debate. By now everyone knows that when experience, choice of profession and time in the workforce are accounted for, women make on average 95% of men’s earnings, not 77%. Rubio has answered criticism of his tax plan by adding a 25% bracket to his 15% and 35% brackets, and proposed a tax credit for businesses that offer paid parental leave.

If they want to debate, why not choose a sponsor such as or the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (my current employer), the American Enterprise Institute, the Tax Foundation or the Heritage Foundation?

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