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A funny thing happened to Jeb Bush on his way to the White House.
He was rolling assuredly toward his coronation as the GOP presidential nominee, campaigning “joyfully” (as he has described his low-key style). He was busy sacking up millions of dollars in campaign cash from his dynastic family’s extensive coterie of reliable corporate donors and wealthy patrons, and he was confident that he would roll to victory next year.
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But then – Screech! Wham! Eeeeek! – the wheels came off his golden victory wagon. As the campaign entered the month of June, the supposedly-seasoned politico was looking incompetent – he badly bungled an easy question about brother George’s disastrous Iraq invasion, polls showed the presumed front-runner doing poorly in crucial early-voting states, and his campaign staff was in disarray.
So now, a mere six months before the 2016 balloting begins, Jeb has had to hit the re-set button. He is shifting his strategy and style from cruise-control to over-drive, including getting a new campaign manager notorious for full-throttle, nasty attacks on opponents. As one close ally put it, the Bush operation will now be like “Pickett’s Charge” to win the nomination.
But wait – George Pickett was the Confederate general who led 12,500 men in a practically-suicidal infantry assault on Union troops at Gettysburg in 1863. Marching in formation over an open field for nearly a mile, the attack was a horrendous folly that produced a humiliating defeat for the Confederacy, with more than 6,000 of Pickett’s men dead.
That’s an unusual model for a presidential campaign! But Jeb’s got a strategic weapon that poor George Pickett did not have: A war chest of $100 million, double the amount raised by all the other Republican candidates combined. That will cover up a lot of Bush’s incompetence.
“A Shaky Start Compels Bush To Refine Tone,” The New York Times, June 14, 2015.