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Daniel Ruth

In a field of pygmies, Bush looks gigantic

There is probably a very good reason why, in the goo-goo eyes of so many in the Greek chorus of Republicans chanting and panting for his return to the hustings, Jeb Bush stands as an electoral colossus of the Club for Growth, the Rambo of the Cato Institute, the beefcake boy of the National Review.

Consider the current crop of GOP presidential pretenders positioning themselves for a run against President Barack Obama next year. For nonstarters there's Newt Gingrich, the bumptious gasbag bloviating at the end of the bar; Mike Huckabee, the Gomer Pyle with a pulpit; Mitt Romney, who can stand foursquare on any side of any issue; Tim Pawlenty, a man with all the charisma of a raw plantain; and of course Sarah Palin, who can see dollar signs from her back porch.

How tepid is this hanging chad of ambition?

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who represents the Planet Kalidnoid 7, is making noises about casting her foil hat into the ring. There are even rumors that Gov. Rick Scott, who has been in office all of 20 minutes, might be thinking of selling off Air Force One and returning the United States monetary system to the pelt standard.

Sheesh, the Bowery Boys had more collective intellectual firepower. Harold Stassen would come off as Reaganesque.

Little wonder, then, that Bush emerges in Republican inner sanctums as Winston Churchill meets the Heritage Foundation.

As the present field of GOP aspirants continues to look more like the ticket line waiting to get into Glenn Beck's latest "We're All Doomed Addled Lunatic Fringe Conspiracy Theory Rally," coming soon to a survivalist bunker near you, it is understandable the two or three rational Republican mandarins would be keen to find a 58-year-old breath of fresh air in a candidate who can construct a sentence and doesn't see Che Guevara lurking behind every newspaper vending box.

Ah, but the human exclamation point continues to play harder to get than Doris Day in one of those old Rock Hudson romantic comedies. The former Florida governor insists he is absolutely, positively, without equivocation, definitely not even remotely considering a run against Obama in 2012. And that means, quite obviously, that Jeb Bush would be available in a heartbeat if the stars were to align themselves.

There is the minor problem of people thinking, "Oymygawd, not another Bush in the White House." One worries about the gene pool. After eight years of George W. Bush, who treated the U.S. Constitution like a paper airplane, there might not be much appetite to embrace his little brother, who never met a wetland he didn't want to turn into a Walmart Supercenter.

It's not that Jeb doesn't want to be president. Of course he does. He came out of the womb whistling Hail to the Chief. The issue, more likely, is that he doesn't want to put up with all the rubber chicken kabuki dancing required to get the nomination.

Can anyone one imagine the Little Lord Fauntleroy of Florida schlepping around Iowa or New Hampshire, enduring the indignity of sharing a dais with those other icky candidates when he should be coronated and transported to and from campaign events hoisted on a sedan chair carried by party loyalists?

It's awfully hard to pose for holy pictures when you're sharing the frame with Rudy Giuliani.

Some things simply aren't done. He's Jeb Bush after all, of whom a fellow Republican political opponent once observed, "He thinks he's spe-cial."

There is also some chin-rubbing that the Blue Boy of Biscayne Bay is simply content to wait until 2016, when the nation will rise up in a Tahrir Square-like frenzy of support begging him to at last please, pretty please come live in the White House.

It is said the three things politics and stand-up comedy have in common are timing, timing and timing.

By 2016, Jeb Bush will be 63, not exactly prime material if the party is looking to appeal to younger voters. And who is to say there isn't some currently unknown Republican up and comer who would be well positioned to lead the party? Such things happen. See: Obama, Barack.

By the way, in 2016 Jeb's oldest son, George P. Bush, will be a mere stripling of 40. Oh dear. They keep coming.

If Jeb Bush wants to walk the moors of South Florida waiting for the phone to ring, he may be in a very long stroll. So it may be time for the Hamlet of Kennebunkport to decide if it is going to be Jeb! Or Jeb?

In a field of pygmies, Bush looks gigantic 02/21/11 [Last modified: Monday, February 21, 2011 5:43pm]

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