Commentary Magazine


Should Jeb Bush Run in 2012?

The field for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination is full of imperfect candidates. Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner according to the most recent Rasmussen poll, has a reputation for flip-flopping. Sarah Palin, the grassroots favorite, is seen by many as too divisive to win in a general election. And social conservative Mike Huckabee is considered unpalatable to many libertarians and East Coast conservatives.

So is now the perfect time for Jeb Bush — whose hindrance is obviously his last name — to throw his hat into the ring? Rich Lowry has a persuasive column at National Review Online on why Jeb should run for president now, as opposed to waiting until 2016.

Lowry’s most convincing point is that 2016 will be too late; Jeb would have been out of office for 10 years, and a new crowd of candidates — Chris Christie, Marco Rubio — will be ready to run.

Jeb also doesn’t seem to have a very compelling reason not to run though the problems that some in his immediate family have had with the law may be an impediment that the press is ignoring. If he’s waiting until the Bush name is rehabilitated, there’s no guarantee that four extra years will have a major impact. Plus, as Lowry notes, “Jeb is different from his patrician dad and different from his thoroughly Texan brother. As soon as people see him on the national stage, they’ll realize he’s his own person and has to be taken on his own terms.”

There’s also this reason for him to run: without a position in public office, Jeb will have a hard time keeping himself on the national radar. Even if he’s unable to win the 2012 nomination, he can still maintain some prominence while giving voters a chance to become familiar with him and his issues. Then, if Obama wins re-election, Jeb will be in a prime position to run again four years later.