Rubio’s rise and the end of the Bush dynasty

Rubio’s rise and the end of the Bush dynasty
February 07 19:33 2016

The day after the Iowa caucuses, I watched as the Shakespearean drama underlying this year’s Republican race — a classic tale of friendship and betrayal — played out its final act on either edge of New Hampshire.

In Keene, close to the Vermont border, I joined the small group of reporters who came to hear Jeb Bush speak to a polite audience of workers at a grocery wholesaler. Bush was, as ever, reasoned and respectful, but he seemed a little frustrated as he compared his old Florida protégé to President Obama.

Marco Rubio is “gifted as a politician, an unbelievable orator,” Bush said. But “the presidency is a leadership position. It’s not a backbencher, where you argue endlessly over amendments.”

Later, I drove down to Exeter, on the seacoast, where Rubio had just arrived to a line of satellite trucks and a raucous crowd of maybe 800 people, packed so tightly into a steaming, centuries-old theater that I heard a volunteer raise questions about the sturdiness of the balcony.

Playful and sure-footed, Rubio seemed like a different guy from the halting candidate I’d watched in Iowa just a few weeks earlier, under attack from all sides. “It is not enough to be angry,” Rubio told the crowd. “You have a right to be angry. But anger is not a plan.”

At one point, he told the story of how he had courageously decided to take on Florida’s Republican establishment and its then governor, Charlie Crist, when he ran for Senate in 2010. He left out the part about how his mentor, Jeb, had helped make it possible from the shadows.

New Hampshire is a fiercely unpredictable place, and anything can happen Tuesday. But it sure looks like we’re witnessing the last week of the long Bush dynasty in Republican politics — vanquished, in part, by a onetime confidant who understood where American politics was going.

This is not the way it was supposed to go down. When I talked with Rubio back in March, a few weeks before his official announcement, most analysts believed that Bush’s entry into the race had made Rubio redundant. Bush was better known, better funded and better positioned to lock down Florida’s coveted money and delegates.
The thinking among Republicans in Washington then was that the only thing keeping Bush from choosing his younger sidekick as a running mate was the fact that they hailed from the same state, which was just a damn shame.

Primary seasons, though, are when the tectonic undercurrents of our politics reveal themselves. And what’s become clear in the months since is that Bush fundamentally misread the seismic signs of the moment.

Having been out of elective office for eight years, Bush took too long to grasp that the anger fueling conservative revolt was as much about the Republican establishment — with which the Bush name had become synonymous — as it was about Obama.

He entered the race without even thinking through a response to questions about his brother’s foreign policy. Somehow he conceived of his own candidacy as tangential to the family legacy.

“I won the lottery, I totally get it, I’m totally blessed,” I heard Bush tell voters this week with evident exasperation, as if he hoped to acknowledge it and then move on. He should have realized months ago that there was no moving on — that as long as he carried the Bush name, he would have to either defend or disown the past.

-Yahoo News