PALACE INTRIGUE

Posted in Rants on October 18th, 2015 by Ed

The older I get the more I appreciate the tendency of humans to want to make things more interesting than they really are. This is part of the fundamental appeal of conspiracy theories, for example. Nineteen guys with box cutters are too tame an explanation for an event of the magnitude of 9/11 so we have to spice it up with some stock spy novel machinations. The world is rarely as interesting as it is in our imaginations and we try to close the gap.

For this and other reasons a popular rumor throughout the George W. Bush years was of family drama underlying that man's rise to the presidency. It was believed during the Reagan years that Jeb was the scion of the Bush family and George was little more than an embarrassing afterthought given a job with a baseball team to keep him busy and (hopefully) out of the way. When W sobered up, though, he quickly made his way in Texas politics and from the governor's mansion we know the rest of the story. Whisper campaigns about almost Shakespeareian levels of drama between the brothers intimated that Jeb, as The Serious One, deeply resented being passed over for his Party Boy brother. It's a neat, self-contained narrative and accordingly many people bought it. Hell, I bought it. It made perfect sense and George W's performance left little reason to doubt that his brother would indeed be more capable.

This is all interesting now that Jeb is finally having his big moment on the national stage with no brother or father to upstage him. We get to see him in all his splendor, and he is so terrible we have to remind ourselves repeatedly that, yes, this is it and, no, he's not gonna get any better. A nation and pundit class led to believe that the secret jewel of the Bush dynasty was about to shine are scrambling to concoct excuses for what we are seeing in this election. He's terrible. He's so terrible that he can't handle the intellectual might of Donald Trump. He's more terrible than anyone could have imagined, whisper campaign about his secret greatness or not. He is, dare we even say it, worse than George W.

It's safe to say that very few people saw that coming.

Nothing about him is redeeming. His personality is classic "asshole neighbor / CPA" from Republican Central Casting with none of the fake Folksy Reg'lar Fella crap his brother pulled off. The ideas he puts forth are unimaginative and lightweight even by the standards of this horrendous GOP field. He has zero campaign instincts and he's forever putting his foot in his mouth ("Americans need to work harder" and "Stuff happens" in response to a mass killing, and we're still more than a year out from the election). He's not good on camera, he's not raising money appreciably better than the other candidates, and his debate performances have been embarrassing. I didn't expect him to be great. Nor did I expect him to have no redeeming qualities whatsoever as a candidate. He just seems like a dick. A guy you would go out of your way to avoid having to talk to in a social setting. The guy who only makes VP because his dad owns the company.

If he makes any headway in this race it will be a dark omen for the GOP, as anyone voting for him would be doing so strictly as a default vote of no confidence in the rest of the field. It could happen, but he's been so amazingly bad that he might even lose his grip on that role. I'd love to tell you I saw that coming, but we're in uncharted territory of ineptitude here.