As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

Jeb May be Finished

Jeb Bush failed to distinguish himself yet again in the third Republican presidential debate, missing a crucial opportunity to energize his campaign at the very moment when Establishment donors are making final decisions about where to put their money.

Making matters doubly worse for the once-inevitable GOP nominee, Sen. Marco Rubio offered himself up as a credible alternative for the Establishment’s cash with his polished, knowledgeable responses, his ability to personalize issues, and a decisive smackdown of Bush when the former Florida governor came after him.

Bush, with a slightly pleading tone, recited his policies as if reading from an extensive white paper churned out by a boiler room of wonky nerds holed up at his campaign headquarter in Miami.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich also may have made some progress in the Establishment sweepstakes, delivering a passionate performance and an aggressive sales job of his record. But he’s achieved that before, and it hasn’t done much for him in the polls.

Carly Fiorina, another potential Establishment choice, sounded tinny and unremarkable. Her polls will go nowhere but down, since that’s where they eventually went even after her stellar performances in two previous debate.

Rubio calmly made his case, smartly parrying attacks from the other candidates and the obviously anti-GOP CNBC panel that hosted the Boulder, Colo., contest. He didn’t look any younger than he has before, but he had a mature, reassuring manner that contrasted clearly with Bush’s awkwardness and Kasich’s sometimes near-histrionics.

Unlike Bush, who stuck to the facts, Rubio never forgot to relate his ideas to the average people he says his plans are designed to help.

“My mother’s on Medicare and Social Security,” Rubio said. “I’m against anything that’s bad for my mother.” Rubio also was sure to mention, as he always does, that his dad was a bartender, leaving unsaid the contrast with Bush’s father.

But “the guy who does my dry cleaning” would also benefit from a Rubio presidency, the senator said.

A leaden Bush declared, “I have a concrete plan,” jabbering on with some perhaps solid policy details, if anyone was still listening.

“Our monetary policy, our tax policy, regulatory policy needs to be radically changed so we can create high sustained growth for income to rise,” Bush said. After a yawn, one might ask, for whose income to rise?

But the worst moment came early, when Bush assailed Rubio for his absentee senate record — and Rubio dismissed the criticism as the canned stunt that it was.

“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,” Bush whined, as if he had needed his senator’s help fixing a broken traffic light. “Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term, and you should be showing up to work. I mean, literally, the Senate — what is it, like a French work week?”

Bush had ripped into both the French and his opponent with a single salvo. Thought he’d done pretty good. What he actually did was launch an attack Rubio was surely prepared for.

“I get to respond, right?” Rubio asked calmly.

“You know how many votes John McCain missed when he was carrying out that furious comeback that you’re now modeling after?” Rubio said.

“He wasn’t my senator,” responded Bush, sensing the danger.

Rubio ignored him.

“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.”

And that, everyone knew, was true.

Rubio went on to take the high road, refraining as he mostly has from returning Bush’s increasingly desperate attacks against his onetime friend.

“I will continue to have tremendous admiration and respect for Governor Bush,” Rubio said. “I’m not running against Governor Bush, I’m not running against anyone on this stage. I’m running for president because there is no way we can elect Hillary Clinton to continue the policies of Barack Obama.”

That sounded far more presidential than Bush’s sniping.

Rubio still looks barely out of his political diapers, and he can sound a little tinny and whiney himself. But with few to no other obvious alternatives, the checks written by the Establishment may soon be bearing his name as the moderate wing of the Party unites to try to stop Donald Trump.

This post also appears in PoliZette.

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48 Responses to Jeb May be Finished

  1. I missed the debate, but was able to keep up some what by reading comments. Did the moderator’s go after J. Bush with the same ugly gusto as he did the others?

  2. I hate that the media is calling for people to drop out before a single vote is cast. Super Tuesday is still over 100 days away. This whole primary process has devolved into political theater.

  3. Bush missed the big shot when Marco defended himself on his miserable Senate attendance record and aligned himself with Obama and Kerry who ALSO held terrible attendance records.
    Bush just stood there. Crickets!

    The Donald has been living rent-free in Jeb’s brain. He has turned to mush. Time to withdraw.

  4. After last night’s CNBC’s “debate” there should not be a single person in America who has the slightest doubt that the NBC media group is a foul smelling, lefty propaganda machine. The candidates on the stage rose above the stench produced by these three political hack moderators, and easily exposed Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick and John Harwood for what they are: self satisfied, smug and pretentious social misfits who long ago burned their journalist credentials to peddle a political agenda.

  5. Stop Donald Trump – the last three words.
    It’s no surprise that the establishment Repubs want to stomp all over MrTrump. He doesn’t kowtow to the powers, isn’t going on bended knee, hat in hand to big money interests, or even ask the RNC for advice or help.

    The surprise is the MSM’s attempt to “get Donald Trump”, too. Their future could ride on PresidentTrump’s every move, every photo op. MrTrump’s press conferences would be a ratings hit, MrsTrump’s public appearances would be fashion’s saviour and bliss, and allow the anti-Trumps constant reasons to speak their opinions on national TV.
    Who would have watched the ‘debate’ last night if there were only five candidates – Bush, Rubio, Christie, Cruz, and Huckabee? The answer would be their individual supporters, and the simply curious.

  6. Some commenter at the Post said Rubio needed a grownup haircut–yeah, the hair, why don’t we go there again? Maybe some Americans don’t know bad questioning or non-issues when they hear them or don’t care. What a cluster-you-know. I have no idea who the other two besides Harwood (Obama lover), but in the pregame babble, also between people I never saw before, they were clearly anti-Rep. I thought yoh-boy. At least some candidates had the moxie to just say what they wanted and end-run those “journalists” (yes, in quotes). This makes me tired–I need some Dr Carson Magic Juice. Or maybe he should endorse Ben Gay.

  7. Keith is not bashful about showing his bias. Rubio really?
    Another RINO.
    GOP establishment needs to die and go away. America needs a new path. GOP now = democrat light. Does nothing to help, just rubber stamps the Obummer agenda.
    Obamamohamad is the enemy!!!

    • Wish I could see what others see in Rubio, other than he’s ‘cute’.
      What makes him special?
      He never changes that intense expression when he rattles off his well-rehearsed talking points. He doesn’t seem to have a sense of humor. He’s a
      ‘fast talker’.
      And lastly, what’ his hurry? He ‘hates’ his job in the senate – it’s too slow…and boring.
      Why should Rubio be trusted after his ‘amnesty’ deal with Schumer?
      IMO, he is the latino version of Obama. Impatient and cocky.

      • He is a good extemp speaker–even my kid said he is the only one who sounds smart. He explained why now–because now is when this ship is going down, not later when some outside authority pronounces him “ready.” He is a combo of intelligent, wonky, thoughtful, and feisty–to me anyhow. I don’t care how many times (a lot) Joe Scarborough repeats his supposed joke about Rubio’s remarks being made up in homeroom, I don’t read it that way. I think NBC told the NBC baby offshoots to keep pounding him.

          • Dunno if that will happen–Cuban not Mexican. It sure isn’t a slam dunk…I would hope he knows that if everyone thinks he focus groups everything. I still think the Hispanic vote will go Dem–a softer place to land.

          • Meant your. I am shellshocked. The other day on WaPo, I said Speaker when I meant Majority Leader–somehow got the two mixed up..and I was SLAMMED–no one would EVER believe me again, had I ever known ANYTHING about govt, how embarrassing, etc… They must have thought I was infallible before–nice to know. Gone now, though. Tough room.

        • And I might add that despite being openly for Bush, Scarborough used to claim friendship with “Marco,” as he calls him–now, no, the word is out. I know this is pretty Inside MoJoe, but it irks me.

      • I recall VJ saying much the same thing about O: he gets bored easily because he is so phenomenally intelligent.
        So … was the comment about Marco yours or made by some of the brain trusts on TV?
        And Jeb never ever had a dog in this race. I’ve said before – he and several others need to stay on the porch.

  8. What I would gladly PAY to see?
    Those three CNBC a..hats on stage with Ted Cruz in a real debate on policy and issues. Cruz against all 3 and I guarantee you they would be so destroyed they couldn’t land a weekend morning anchor job in Crooked Springs.

  9. I was tickled last night when one of those nasty moderators asked Huckabee about Donald Trump’s morals. Huckabee replied “I’m wearing a Trump tie! Get over it already!” to the moderator.

  10. I wonder why Keith purposefully makes absolutely no mention of Cruz at all in this column about the debate. That was one of the high-decibel moments of the evening.