More and more GOP politicians are realizing their party has a big problem. What once seemed a great idea -- a drawn-out Republican Primary slug-fest intended to take the limelight from President Obama -- may have only served to get their entire field on the wounded list. And what option does that leave?
Well, one solution is to forget about the entire bunch.
Maine's Republican Governor Paul LePage, elected in 2010 with heavy Tea Party support, thinks the circular firing squad scenario might open things up for someone else. The Associated Press quoted LePage the other day on this:
"I would love to see a good old-fashioned convention and a dark horse come out and do it in the fall," LePage said, adding that he didn't have a particular alternative candidate in mind.
Whoever this is, it doesn't need to be a "dark horse," a term signifying a generally unknown prospect who surges to prominence. Instead, as in racing, this competitor out of nowhere could be the progeny of a previous winner. Maybe even a sibling of another.
In other words, he -- and it will be a he -- could be what Donald Rumsfeld might call a "known unknown" -- a major brand name that has not been sullied by the current non-stop mud wrestling. For one has been hanging out at the steps to the arena all this time. His name is Jeb Bush.
Before anyone races to declare that Americans will not stand for another Bush presidential campaign --and certainly not for another Bush presidency -- let me just say that they'd be sorely under-estimating the Bush family.
The Bushes are nothing if not resilient. George W. Bush, he of so few qualifications but with his own distinctive Bush personality and formidable charisma, came out of the dust of his father's re-election defeat in 1992, stronger than his father ever was politically. And though W. is now persona non grata to many, his brother would come back as a significantly different brand. He's widely regarded as more capable, much more focused, much better at delivering points. He's able to pull off a kind of sober, reasonable persona, more stable than a Santorum or a Gingrich or most of the other contenders. Rich but not entitled. A kind of Romney -- without the Romney.
And yet ... And yet he is still a Bush. That means a great deal, because, putting aside all the stylistic differences, this is a clan with a mission. It's a mission they'll never talk about, beyond vague statements about a sense within the family of Duty to Nation. No, the Bush clan is the ultimate representative of the game plan of the one percent of the one percent. What they stand for in private is much, much more troubling than most Americans know. What I learned in the five years I spent investigating them -- as they were going out of power the last time -- shook me to my core.
There isn't space to get into the hundreds of disturbing things about the long-term agenda and covert worldview of this family and their friends, going back not just years but generations. Suffice it to point out a few things that might seem innocuous, but aren't.
One is the propensity the Bushes have for long-term alliances with those on the other side of the aisle. This is emphatically not about bipartisanship. It is about the same kinds of things that bring Republican and Democratic elites together, that explain the 2004 nominees of both parties being members of the same Yale secret society. It is about why the same people stay on top forever.
The Bush family made friends with Bill Clinton at the very start of his administration -- right after he defeated George H.W. Bush -- a relationship that is sustained to the present moment. Although a Democrat, Clinton never did take on the big issues that would have upset the people behind the Bush dynamic. Indeed, he deregulated the financial markets and outsourced government, and carried out a foreign policy comfortable to those used to extracting resources from wherever needed, no questions asked; he failed to challenge the national security establishment or generate a post-Soviet-collapse "peace dividend."
The Bush family has now attempted the same thing with another Democratic "opponent," Barack Obama. Shortly after Obama took office, George H.W. Bush and Jeb (but not W.) paid the new president a private visit in the White House. That's not a common thing, but the media essentially ignored it and we never did learn the real nature of that trip, beyond the notion that the Bush family just wanted one more peek at the West Wing.