1. Opinion

Ruth: Jeb's got the Vegas idea

Published Mar. 24, 2014

While he may enjoy playing Hamlet of the Republican Party, roaming the moors of Miami ruminating on his political future, can we dispense with the faux mystery and cut to the chase?

Do not stop the presses. Former Gov. Jeb Bush is most certainly running for president. And here's a stunner. So is Hillary Clinton. Really. You may go back to sleep now.

How do we know Jeb has visions of Air Force One dancing in his dreams?

Would you slink into Las Vegas to schmooze gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson, who regards GOP presidential nominees as if they were trophy heads mounted in his den, if you had no interest in the White House?

Bush is not going to Vegas to catch Meat Loaf's act at Planet Hollywood. There are many mysteries in life. But Bush's political ambition is not one of them.

To be fair, could anyone really blame him for believing the presidency could be within his grasp? He has to look at the current slacked jaws of Republican candidates and think to himself: "There's more intellectual firepower to be found in a bag of anvils than this crowd. Sheesh, my late dog Marvin could have beaten these folks."

And just who would Bush have to leap over to win the Republican nomination? There's Sen. Marco Rubio, who believes whatever you want him to believe in; Sen. Ted Cruz, the yellow poseur of Texas; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is on television; former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who appears to have nothing else better to do; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who is even grumpier than his father; Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has started wearing glasses to at least look smart; and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who appears to have based his entire political ideology on Atlas Shrugged, one of literature's great doorstops.

Of course, there is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who seems to have been cleared of any wrongdoing in the George Washington Bridge shutdown scandal because the lawyers he hired for $1 million say so. Glad that's cleared up.

As always, Donald Trump, the Great Pumpkin of the GOP, will serve as comic relief.

Little wonder that Bush is wheels up to Nevada.

And when he arrives at Adelsonland, he will be rewarded with top billing and a prime speaking slot at a gathering of other potential candidates.

This is relatively new territory for Bush, who has mostly avoided sharing the spotlight with other presidential contenders, fearing perhaps that tea party cooties are contagious.

It's entirely possible that no good can come from playing footsie with Adelson. It is true when you have a potential benefactor worth an estimated $20.5 billion, it might be a good idea to accept an invitation to come to Las Vegas.

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On the other hand, Adelson has exhibited all the political acumen of Anthony Weiner believing he could get elected mayor of New York.

During the 2012 election cycle, Adelson was the single biggest spreader of financial fairy dust, spending $53 million on individual candidates, almost all whom lost. That includes the $20 million he blew on Newt Gingrich.

With that sort of sorry track record, Adelson should stay away from his gambling tables. So do you really want the full-throated kiss-of-death support of a chap who is the body politic's answer to appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated?

Bush should simply acknowledge what everyone already knows.

In a recent posting on his fivethirtyeight website, statistician Nate Silver, who has a vastly better record picking winners than Adelson, noted this is the first time since 1976, when primaries alone determined presidential nominees, that not a single potential Republican candidate is polling above 20 percent.

Bush is third at 12.2 percent, lagging behind the blameless Christie at 13 percent and Huckabee, who is on television, at 14.8 percent. In case you are wondering, Clinton sits at 67 percent.

Imagine how Bush might poll if he actually acknowledged he is a candidate? Las Vegas might be a good place to roll the dice.