John Ellis Bush, better known as Jeb, George W Bush’s cleverer brother, appears to be running for president. I say “appears” because he has not said so in plain English. But he is beginning to grow the unmistakable plumage of a candidate.
A book is the traditional non-announcement announcement of White House aspirations and he’s just published Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a politician in possession of a publishing contract wants more than literary glory. Ever since JFK won a Pulitzer Prize in 1957 for Profiles in Courage, most candidates have introduced themselves to the nation, or reminded the nation of their existence, via hardback. Even vice-president Joe Biden, Texas governor Rick Perry and pizza mogul Herman Cain have hunkered down with a ghostwriter and produced something with which to score free media attention.
Immigration Wars is a substantive and thoughtful look at American immigration. But that doesn’t matter. It allows Jeb Bush to put himself out there, reminding the nation of his existence. He appeared on all five of the major political TV programmes: NBC’s Meet the Press, CNN’s State of the Union, Fox News Sunday, ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, and CBS’s Face the Nation—on the same Sunday. This is known as the “full Ginsburg,” named after Monica Lewinsky’s lawyer William Ginsburg, thought to be the first person to pull off such a media coup. On every show, Bush insisted he was not running for president—sort of. As he said on CNN: “I’ve decided to defer any consideration of it until the proper time to make those kind of considerations, which is out more than a year from now, for sure.”
But it’s never too early to deal with his surname problem: “I don’t think there’s any Bush baggage at all,” he told Fox News. “I love my brother, I’m proud of his accomplishments. I love my dad, I’m proud to be a Bush.” Then there’s that other Floridian, the senator who also has an immigration plan and who is spoken of as a potential Republican star in 2016. On NBC, David Gregory asked, “Who’s the hottest Florida politician right now? Is it you or Marco Rubio?”
As speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Rubio was Governor Bush’s protégé, implementor of his privatise-everything priorities; now he may become Bush’s rival. Even in the scrum of a Republican primary campaign,…