Stuff that won’t happen

There’s been a boomlet of silly speculation that Jeb Bush will be the 2012 Republican nominee. There is a simple reason why this is wrong: George W. Bush was the most disliked president in modern history. End of story.

Did Democrats put up Billy Carter in 1984? No.

I do wish, though, that all columnists would signal they were about to engage in a round of Slate/TNR-style contrarianism by beginning:

Or at least that’s the conventional wisdom.

Update. Commenters note that Democrats did in fact put Jimmy Carter’s vice-president up in 1984. We know how that turned out.

50 replies
  1. 1
    Napoleon says:

    Further evidence the MSM are disconnected from reality.

  2. 2
    Dean Wormer says:

    there’s more conventional wisdom at ComiCon

  3. 3
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    You’re not comparing apples to apples there, bubba.

  4. 4
    licensed to kill time says:

    What could be more Amurkan than a president named Jeb? O_O

  5. 5
    Violet says:

    It’s an interesting sign they’re desperate. If Jeb weren’t a Bush, he’d be a much more appealing candidate. The candidates they’ve actually got aren’t very appealing at all and they don’t know who would even have a shot. Bobby “Kenneth-from-30-Rock” Jindal? Mitt “please forget I’m Mormon” Romney? Sarah “Grifter” Palin? Who are they going to run?

    Jeb Bush was fairly well liked in Florida and did an okay job. He should have been President, but somehow W took his spot. If he were Jeb Smith he’d be gearing up for a run at the White House for sure. Probably would have done it last time around.

  6. 6
    Eric U. says:

    never did really understand why GWB even had the slightest chance to become prez. His dad was an unpopular, one-term president. Now we’ve seen GWB in action, is anyone really willing to chance another Bush? The republicans seem to have wised up, that’s why they are pushing Palin so hard.

  7. 7
    The Dangerman says:

    Not entirely ludicrous; after all, it’s still a 50:50 country even if the Right runs Foghorn Leghorn and perhaps Jeb would bring Florida back to Red. OK, almost entirely ludicrous unless he changes his name to anything this side of Jeb BiteMeAmerica.

    I heard on some program this week that the caucus and primary Calendar sets up perfectly for Palin; I expect her to be nominated…

    …and then have the shit kicked out of her in the General.

  8. 8
    Punchy says:

    Bush/Palin 2012. Could win, and then watch the population of Canada quadruple.

  9. 9
    Violet says:

    She’d never agree to be the second name on the ticket again. It would have to be Palin/Bush or not gonna happen.

  10. 10
    Brachiator says:

    Did Democrats put up Billy Carter in 1984? No.

    Not quite a fair comparison. Billy Carter is more like a Sarah Palin, but without any political experience.

    How would Jeb sell himself? “Not just another Bush, but a Bush with brains.”

    It must either be a slow news week, or the wingnuts temporarily ran out of crap to sling at Obama.

  11. 11
    Yeggo says:

    For some excessively odd reason, PPP tested ol’ Jeb against “Uncle” Ben Nelson for the 2012 Florida Senate seat. Jeb lost. That probably doesn’t bode well for a national campaign.

  12. 12
    demo woman says:

    @Punchy: I wonder if Red Kitten can adopt us….

  13. 13
    Citizen Alan says:

    I don’t think it’s impossible for Jeb to get the nomination, but he’s definitely a dark horse. He’d probably be better than his brother (which is an awfully low hurdle) but a little worse than his dad. And he would definitely put Florida in play. His biggest drawback is not his last name but his wife — she’s Hispanic so the xenophobic bigot wing of the party would probably view him as soft on immigration.

  14. 14
    QuaintIrene says:

    Remember after Biden was elected VP, there was some chat that his son might take over his Senate seat. bWingnutopia exploded with jeers of ‘dynasty!’ and ‘elitist empirelism.’
    But it seems they have no problem with a succession of Bushes.

  15. 15
    Cacti says:


    How would Jeb sell himself?

    I know how his opposition can sell themselves…

    Never send a Bush to do a President’s job!

  16. 16
    Shelton Lankford says:

    Are you sure that they won’t nominate Jeb just to show how much they are in denial about your proposition that Junior was the most disliked? They show a Colbert-like obliviousness to the facts of the matter in most discussions.

    Those fuckers are so far off the deep end nothing they do could possibly surprise me unless it involved questioning the “defense” budget (and by that I mean questioning that it is too high).

  17. 17

    IIRC, Joshua Green also had John McCain winning the 2004 Democratic nomination.

  18. 18
    El Cid says:

    Wait — wouldn’t that be more like if Billy Carter had come in in 1977, been re-elected, hated, then people began talking about his brother Jimmy being a possibility?

  19. 19
    Napoleon says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    He’d probably be better than his brother (which is an awfully low hurdle) but a little worse than his dad.

    My understanding he is a much of a hardcore wingnut as his brother. Believe it or not the nation may have dodged even a bigger bullet by getting Dubya.

  20. 20
    John W. says:

    Two different, somewhat incompatible snarky responses running through my head here:

    1) Yes, of course the 1984 nominee had absolutely, positively nothing to do with the Carter Administration. Er…

    2) Also, who’s saying that Republicans will ever admit a mistake? Isn’t that what defines them as Republicans? It sure as hell isn’t conservatism.

  21. 21
    KG says:

    @Eric U.: The GWB Administration was a (tragic) mistake of history. For the first time in forever the GOP didn’t have somebody whose turn it was for the nomination, so they went with a name they recognized. GHWB had a very good career pre-presidency, and all things considered, his presidency wasn’t that bad. People thought that GWB came from good stock and that he couldn’t be as bad as the rumors were. People were obviously wrong. On top of that, Gore did not run the greatest of campaigns (really, 2000 should have been a replay of 1988 only with roles reversed). So we ended up with the fiasco in Florida and then a president trying to govern with a mandate that didn’t exist. Saddest of all, I think that had 9/11 not happened, Gore might have made a come back in 2004 and probably would have won.

    Also, while GHWB had low approval ratings going into the ’92 election (something like 32%), in ’93 it was back up above 50% and as recently as 2008 his favorables are above 60%. It could be that while GWB is viewed terribly by just about everyone, he didn’t manage to destroy the family name.

    That said, I think it would be incredibly difficult for someone, any one, to basically run a campaign saying, “really, I’m not a dumbass like my brother.” Admitting that a family member is a fuck up is tough to do, doing it repeatedly in public for two years would be really bad.

  22. 22
    John W. says:

    BTW, my intuition is that if I had to choose between the two, that Jeb is more competent than W. Just my intuition and watching a bunch of stuff, including a free flowing debate.

    I’d rather hang myself than vote for either, of course, but W has a level of stupidity and naiveté that i don’t think Jeb has. That could cut both ways but in general I’d prefer Jeb’s wingnuttery to W’s.

  23. 23

    Perhaps we should have an amendment that no Bush can ever be president again.

  24. 24
    Anne Laurie says:

    I don’t doubt that Jeb Bush is cannily holding his supporters back as he plans to emerge after the 2011 Romney/Palin/Huckabee/OtherInsaneGOPer bloodbath as the Last White GOP Hope.

    But last time JEB! was out grinnin-n-gripping his presidential credentials, there were some pretty potent rumors about how ‘the smart Bush’, during his Realtor(tm) years, had not-so-smartly allowed himself to get caught helpfully outlining ways for his Batistanista bankrollers to steal from the state’s rubes via some targeted legislation.

    Between his brother’s toxicity, his own history of penny-ante graft, and his clan’s decision to sit out the current Rethug shitefight and work on grooming the George P/Jenna generation… my guess would be that JEB! is SOL. Not that that ever stopped a career politician from making a bigger fool of himself trying.

  25. 25
    tworivers says:

    Jebinator 2012!

    Stranger things have happened. Romney’s a front runner right now, but his history of politically-expedient flip flops makes him a pretty easy mark for an opponent (plus there’s the whole Mormon thing, and the fact that Obamacare is based largely on what Romney did in MA).

    Palin riles up the base, but would get annihilated in the general election. Huckabee? Maybe, but seems unlikely somehow. Newt? No way.

    I could see John Thune getting the nod.

  26. 26
    KG says:

    I’m beginning to think that none of the expected front runners will actually win the GOP nomination in 2012. I seriously doubt the Evangelical wing will accept Romney. Nor do I think that Palin will win because of the GOP’s fetisization of the presidency and her general unseriousness. So, for nothing other than shits and giggles, I’m going to throw a couple of real dark horse names out there that might have a chance: Bob McDonnell (governor of Virginia), Chris Christie (governor of New Jersey), Bobby Jindal, and Linda Lingle (governor of Hawaii)

  27. 27

    I’m gonna agree with a couple of posters above in disagreeing with you. Bush was the most disliked president in modern history. BUT, his approval/disapproval numbers among Republicans weren’t that bad.

    He won’t be president. There is a chance, however, that he could win the Republican nomination.

    FWIW, I see this sort of thing in a lot of political venues. Its reciprocal is the large number of Republican and Tea Party fans who insist there’s gonna be a wave because so many Republican incumbents lost primary bids to radical right opponents.

    Republicans are not all voters, and all voters are not Republicans.

  28. 28
    BombIranForChrist says:

    Holy cow, I couldn’t possibly disagree with you more.

    I think it is very likely that Jeb will be the nominee in 2012. And 100% likely in 2016.

    Jeb Bush is not Billy Carter. Billy Carter was not the popular governor of a politically important southern state. Billy Carter was not plugged into one of the biggest nespotic circle jerks in the history of the Republic.

    Sure, people hated Dubya. So what? Americans have notoriously short memories and are just as fickle. All Jeb has to say is “Murka” and “Jesus” and he’s already got 48% of the vote.

    Come on, DougJ. 99% of what you say is correct and / or smart. How can you not see this? America will be electing Bush’s until it (inevitably) destroys itself by virtue of electing too many Bush’s.

  29. 29
    BombIranForChrist says:

    Also, his wife is Latino, and his children are half-Latino. That will easily neutralize the issue of Republicans hating brown people and will help neutralize the Republican immigration policies. It will therefore neutralize part of the Democratic advantage with Latinos.

    I would give Jeb even money to beat Obama.

  30. 30
    eemom says:

    Ah, poor Jeb. Bush III — a modern Shakesperean tragedy.

    Cuz it was supposed to be Jeb all along, ya know, before he lost his race for FL governor in the ’90s and W won in TX. Jeb was the Good Son who wasn’t a drunken coke-addled embarrassment to the Dynasty. He was the heir apparent to Poppy’s prezniting legacy, and it just plain got stole out from under his ass when big brother W found Jesus.

    Oliver Stone’s movie “W” on the subject is worth seeing. The only problem is they couldn’t find an actress ugly enough to play Barbara.

  31. 31
    daveX99 says:

    Did Democrats put up Billy Carter in 1984?

    I don’t mean be contrarian, but…

    Billy Carter did not manage to win the governorship of an actual state, as did Jeb Bush.

    Also: so far as I know, Jeb bush never “urinated on an airport runway in full view of the press and dignitaries”.

    Or at least that’s the conventional wisdom.

  32. 32
    Shalimar says:

    I keep saying I think the 2 Republican favorites are John Thune (gets the good hair, Reagan element of the electorate) and Jim DeMint (because he will be more right-wing than any other candidate if he runs). And it might be 4 years too early for DeMint, though alot can happen before the first primary. The one thing we know right now is that none of the current candidates have a chance in hell. Romney would be closest if he wasn’t Mormon.

    @The Dangerman: If Palin is nominated, I hope she puts McCain on her shortlist for VP before very publicly rejecting him for not having any executive branch experience.

  33. 33
    rob! says:

    Palin/Bush 2012!!

    The great thing about this is, if this ticket did get elected, they wouldn’t have to worry about getting re-elected, because in the intervening four years America–if not good chunks of the world–would be reduced to piles of smoldering ruins. Who cares about winning the Dixville Notch midnight vote when you’re fighting off irradiated mutants for gasoline?


  34. 34
    maya says:


    How would Jeb sell himself? “Not just another Bush, but a Bush with brains.”

    Bush 45!

  35. 35
    Bostondreams says:

    As a Florida public school teacher, and a doc student in UF’s College of Education, I shiver to think of what JEB! could try and do to my profession on a national level. He has spent the past few years trying to destroy public school and its teachers in Florida.
    Please, God, no.

  36. 36
    joe from Lowell says:

    This post is awful.

    No, they Democrats didn’t put up Billy Carter. You know who they put up in the next election?

    Jimmy Carter’s Vice President!

  37. 37
    Citizen Alan says:


    My understanding he is a much of a hardcore wingnut as his brother. Believe it or not the nation may have dodged even a bigger bullet by getting Dubya.

    Well since anyone who is not a raving fascist is now unelectable in a Republican primary, that goes without saying. However, he is not an obvious moron and he does not seem to be crippled by an Oedipus complex so overwhelming that he belongs in a Greek tragedy.

  38. 38
    DougJ says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    Names mean something.

  39. 39

    @joe from Lowell:

    I supported Pat Paulson for that election. Frankly, he had as good a chance as Mondale, though Billy Carter may well have done better than either. Mr. Budweisor had him by the short hairs at the time, however, and then there was that little Libya misunderstanding with Billygate, and BillBeer went beely up. But he coulda been a contender with the proper spiritual guidance imo.

  40. 40
    Citizen Alan says:


    Saddest of all, I think that had 9/11 not happened, Gore might have made a come back in 2004 and probably would have won.

    I remember consoling myself at the outcome of Bush v. Gore with the idea that Gore could come back in 2004 and crush Bush, whereas a President Gore would have had a very tough time fighting off Jebbie. I also believed (correctly, in hindsight) that we would make it to at least 2004 before there was a Supreme Court vacancy.

    Then somebody burned down the Reichstag 9/11 happened, the whole country rallied around Fuckwit George and I realized we were all screwed.

  41. 41
    DougJ says:


    I will be stunned if Jeb Bush is the Republican nominee in 2012. I don’t know about 2016 or 2020, I’m not claiming that I do.

  42. 42
    Citizen Alan says:


    Huckabee’s dangerous. He alone among the Republican contenders is capable of faking warmth and human emotion. The rest of them can’t go more than a week without revealing themselves as lizard people.

  43. 43
    debbie says:

    @ Brachiator:

    How would Jeb sell himself? “

    Third Bush’s a charm!

  44. 44
    joe from Lowell says:


    Names mean something.

    That’s why JEB couldn’t get elected.

    But primary voters are not like general election voters. They’re more extreme, yes, but they’re also not as shallow.

  45. 45
    Ana Gama says:


    How would Jeb sell himself?

    Bushy Brains.

  46. 46
    Tecumseh says:

    @Citizen Alan: Thune’s the one who scares me as nobody knows who he is so whatever craziness he believes in is hard to track down. In fact, from what I’ve read, he’s just your typical conservative instead of a crazy-ass conservative and might almost seem respectable enough to beat Obama. Especially considering, he’s well, you know.

  47. 47
    r€nato says:

    @Eric U.: GHW Bush was the last of the sensible, corporate Republicans. He’s a dinosaur, from a time when knowing shit actually mattered to the GOP.

  48. 48
    Jinchi says:

    The knock on Jeb Bush begins and ends with his name. ”If he weren’t a Bush, he’d be an obvious top choice,”

    This is foolish. The only reason people wonder about “President Jeb Bush” is because he’s the son of George Bush Sr. It was the only reason we spoke about George W. in 1999, too. The Bush brothers never stood out from the conservative field, except that their dad was president.

    The press talks about Jeb for the same reason they’ve wondered about every Kennedy since John. It’s easier than finding out who the real political powerhouses are.

  49. 49
    rob! says:

    No one’s beating Barack Obama in 2012, barring a 9/11-style attack a week before the election (DEAR KARL ROVE: DON’T GET ANY IDEAS).

    Jeb Bush knows that, and if he’s actually considering running for President (dear God), he’ll wait for 2016.

  50. 50
    Brachiator says:

    @John W.:

    BTW, my intuition is that if I had to choose between the two, that Jeb is more competent than W. Just my intuition and watching a bunch of stuff, including a free flowing debate.

    I understand what you mean, but ultimately I think that Jeb shares the Bush perspective. He is a son of American oligarchs, and sees that his first duty is to make sure that conservative elites always have prime place in American life.

    And as far as I am concerned, Governor Bush’s role in the Terri Schiavo affair makes him unfit to hold any government office.

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