There’s simply too much riding on the 2016 Presidential election to be intimidated by its vast field of candidates. So in the spirit of true post-partisanship, the Weeklings has decided to help America vote right. Over the course of this 8-part series kicking off with the Iowa Caucuses and running through the New Hampshire primary, we break down our favorite Republican contenders, and tell you exactly who’s worth pulling the lever for.
The Jeb! campaign would have you believe the main reason the third leg of the Bush dynasty should be screwed into the nation’s bar stool is because their man was governor of a large state (Florida) for eight years, a tenure which elevates him above every other Republican candidate but John Kasich. Whether that says more about the relative smallness of New Jersey, or the nearly comical inexperience of Ben Carson and Donald Trump, almost seems beside the point. Jeb balanced budgets, cut taxes, broke unions, and (possibly fatally) developed a humanistic approach to illegal immigration, once calling it an “act of love.” That stance will almost certainly cost him the nomination, let alone double-digit numbers in any primary state, but it’s exactly that rare flash of GOP compassion that is his best attribute.
Listen, we all know Jeb has eight years of his brother to live down, a cloud of toxic George W. Dust so thick it would cease the beating of even Dick Cheney’s strontium heart. So Bush trois was probably doomed even before Donald Trump delivered his widely-beloved Mexican Rapist speech. Still, there’s a chance that as we get past the South Carolina primary, one in which Jeb has taken another drubbing but still manages to hang in due a war chest of hundreds of millions in SuperPac money, his air of rumpled-but-reliable sanity could begin to take hold. It’s not much of a stratagem, but neither was Romney’s “No, Seriously, it’s Okay to be Rich” brand of jittery smiling, and he only lost by 3 million votes. By the time the remaining candidates emerge from the South and the pretenders who’ve gorged on Sheldon Adelson’s blood begin to fall away, leaving only Trump, Cruz, Rubio, and Bush—a taste for apostrophe (Jeb!) just might sweep the land.
Hey, we could do worse. Which, it turns out, was the campaign slogan George H.W. Bush used to defeat Mike Dukakis. Hey, we could do worse was also the slogan George W. Bush thrust at Al Gore, although W lost the popular vote but was still ultimately elected by a Supreme Court refusal to re-count ballots in a state governed by…oh yeah, Jeb. Shrewdly, the Bush campaign team pivoted in anticipation of a second term, changing their slogan to Even John Kerry’s Dead Mother Doesn’t Want to Listen to Another Speech by John Kerry, a move that re-elected the incumbent with ease.
2. Appears to be less spliced together with fetal stem cells and random weasel genes then Ted Cruz.
3. Displays the finest attributes of a truly competent Best Buy manager, combined with the lyrical fatigue of an algebra teacher broken by decades of never-consummated student affairs.
4. If you wanted to swagger around downtown LA full of cheap wine, yelling rude things at passersby with someone whose got a little Latin street cred at your side, you’d probably choose Jeb before Marco Rubio.
5. The smoldering tire fire of Rick Santorum’s unelectability is easily blanketed by Jeb’s alkaline-neutral foam.
6. When Carly Fiorina’s main processor fails mid-press conference, and her mouth hinge clicks audibly in recall mode, one eye pinned toward the ceiling as it tries to reconnect with the binary star from which she receives signals, the fact that Jeb is undeniably, pudgily human will be a big plus.
7. If you told Ben Carson his name was really Cen Barson, he’d suspend his campaign for a week to have his towels re-monogrammed. If you told Jeb Bush his name was really Beb Jush, he’d send Rumsfeld over to make sure you never told him that again.
8. While Mike Huckabee continues to milk (to no discernible statistical or ethical advantage) a brand of aw-shucks populism that would have made Huey Long cringe, Jeb has occasionally flashed a willingness to have genuine policy discussions.
9. President Christie, President Pataki, President Paul, President Trump.
10. Jeb Quincy Adams, Jeb Lincoln, Jeb Roosevelt, Jeb Bush.
So, the best reason to vote for Jeb may be his aggressive inoffensiveness, ironically a very Bushy quality despite ten trillion dollars lost and millions of Iraqi dead. The current slate of Republican candidates does not otherwise feature a ton of sober responsibility and solid middle-management. It’s not a sexy choice, but in the end, reflected in the mirror alongside his peers, Jeb may very well be America’s garlic necklace, the only non-vampire in a slowly darkening room.