Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Jeb 2008? I'm Just Not Seeing It

Brendan Miniter, writing in the Wall Street Journal, gamely tries to keep Jeb Bush's 2008 prospects alive by offering an endorsement of sorts of a Bush doctrine of incrementally smaller government:
Before stepping out onto the national stage, this Bush generation's ideas of incrementally smaller government proved popular with voters in two large states. George W. Bush defeated Democratic incumbent Ann Richards in 1994 to become governor of Texas and was re-elected in 1998. The Lone Star State is clearly among the most conservative in the country, but Gov. Bush helped turn what was once a reliably Democratic state into one where Republicans now dominate. Jeb, meanwhile, lost a hard-fought race for governor in Florida in 1994. But he came back four years later and was re-elected in 2002, despite the residual bitterness from the 2000 presidential election and the Democrats' decision to make his defeat a priority.
Yes, well...that may have been true in Texas and Florida, but in Washington, Bush hasn't shown much inclination towards smaller government outside of Social Security reform, leading nicely into Miniter's next point:
Political symmetry also favors Jeb Bush. Even if President Bush manages to get some sort of private Social Security account this year, it's now becoming clear that the bulk of the reform is unlikely to come until after 2008. Bush 43 may succeed in establishing the principle of private accounts within the Social Security system, but it will likely be the next president (perhaps Bush 44) who will have the opportunity to steer the bulk of our payroll taxes into such accounts. Voters gave FDR four back-to-back terms. They may now conclude that replacing the New Deal with an Ownership Deal will take sending a Bush to the White House in three or four successive elections.

Remaking New Deal entitlements into assets individual Americans can own may become a powerful political philosophy that nudges into oblivion FDR's already dwindling coalition of union members and entitlement beneficiaries. Jeb Bush's close association to George W. would be an asset if voters embrace the Ownership Society. By 2008 we'll also likely have a national consensus on how well the democratic experiment is working in Iraq. If Americans continue to support spreading democracy as our best defense against international terrorism, Jeb's last name will also be an asset here as well.
It all sounds a bit too rosy to me; I support Social Security privitization, and God knows, I support the Iraq War, but I don't think emphasizing either will be the road to success in 2008. Nor do I believe that the last name of Bush will be quite the asset Miniter thinks it is.

In other words, color me unconvinced and still of the opinion that Jeb remains a considerable long shot...

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