Oh boy, Jeb! Bush is on the comeback trail. After weeks of falling poll numbers, poor debate performances, campaign staff cuts and calls for him to stop wasting everyone’s time and drop out of the race already, Bush decided instead to dial the Excitement Meter up to 11 by rebooting his campaign. Sure, reboots of already unpopular franchises don’t always seize America’s imagination. But like a studio that has already sunk $100 million into production costs for a terrible movie, some of Bush’s backers might still be hoping for a return on their investment.
So on Monday the campaign unveiled its new direction with a snazzy slogan, “Jeb Can Fix It.” Aside from bearing an unfortunate resemblance to the slogan long used by a wildly popular British entertainer who turned out to be an insatiable sexual predator, the slogan requires one to ask what it is, exactly, that Bush intends to fix. Our broken health care system? Not with that plan he’s proposed, he isn’t. The mess in the Middle East? His advisors had a hand in creating much of it the last time a Bush sat in the White House, so the argument for letting them clean it up isn’t going to get much traction.
As a rallying cry, “Jeb Can Fix It” feels a bit trite and undersized for the job of fixing the smoking and cratered dystopian hellscape that Republicans keep telling us America has become under the dictatorial misrule of the incompetent socialist Barack Obama. In terms of sheer bravado and promise, it’s a far cry from “Make America Great Again.” Bush is going to have to up his slogan-writing game if he’s going to turn this thing around.
The campaign’s other Monday reveal was the release of an e-book collection of emails from the candidate’s time as governor of Florida. Bush was a prolific emailer during his time in office, trading messages with his staff and constituents for 25 to 30 hours a week, according to the book’s own promotional blurb on Amazon. The book is reportedly filled with the esoteric policy details that often fills the days of the nation’s governors, as well as emails related to the two biggest national stories of Bush’s tenure: the 2000 election recount that installed his brother in the Oval Office and the Terri Schiavo case.
Plus there are stories of just how deeply invested in his constituents’ lives Bush became during his time in office. The Guardian reported on a Bush rally on Monday where he told a story about directing his team to help an old woman evict a wild raccoon that had taken up residence in her attic. (Houseguests! Always overstaying their welcome.) Great. When he’s in the White House maybe he’ll send his staff over to my house to help me deal with a persistent water leak.
Why any human being would spend the paltry sum of $2.99 to wade through a reported 730 pages of Jeb! Bush’s emailed thoughts containing these and other stories is a mystery perhaps best left unsolved. Almost as big a mystery as why Bush would title his book “Reply All,” thus reminding readers of all the times they have been stuck in unending email chains in which they didn’t need to participate about office minutiae and wedding planning.
The emails and the new slogan, along with the stump speech Bush will use on a tour of the early voting states, are meant to highlight the former governor’s experience as a chief executive who gets things done. Which is probably the only role that Bush will feel comfortable playing in this GOP primary field after past awkward attempts at sounding like your Tea Party uncle who spends Thanksgiving railing about how Barack Obama hates capitalism. Always play to your strengths.
Unfortunately, the field is still led by xenophobic demagogues and flat-out morons with no experience in government. Which is what the primary voters seem to want in a candidate this cycle. And isn’t Donald Trump, in his own way, promising to fix things that are broken? Our immigration system is broken, so he’ll build a wall! Healthcare is broken, so he’ll replace Obamacare with something terrific! Ask what he has ever accomplished and he’ll point to one of his buildings and brag about the great deals he made with local politicians and zoning boards to put it up. What’s Jeb! Bush going to point to, some esoteric change to the Florida tax code he pushed through the legislature in 2003?
The Bush family might have a history of fighting dirty, but this is a different time and Jeb! is a man running in the wrong era. It’s kind of sad watching this campaign flounder through the minefield of presidential politics like a chicken with its head cut off still running around a barnyard. You just keep waiting for the chicken to realize it’s dead and finally flop to the ground. It’s a harsh assessment, but showing yourself to be a competent bureaucrat with a technocratic approach to government has been out of style in the GOP for quite a long time now.
Watch how "Jeb Can Fix It" is backfiring:
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