It has long been obvious that Jeb Bush doesn’t have what it takes in this presidential election cycle.

Part of it is beyond Jeb’s control – there is little appetite outside the donor class for another Bush at the head of the ticket.

More than that, Jeb’s reaction to Donald Trump’s comments about 9/11 having taken place on George W. Bush’s watch demonstrated how having Jeb as the nominee necessarily will result in a re-litigation of the Bush presidency. Intellectually that it possible, but as a practical political matter putting Bush on trial is a strategy that only Democrats can win.

I have compared Jeb’s political counter-punches to George Castanza in Seinfeld – always too little, too late, and said in a way that boomerangs.

And that’s what happened during the CNBC debate, in the most cringe-worthy moment so far:

After that, there was a nearly universal sigh of relief — that maybe Jeb and his donors would get the message that it’s not going to happen.

But apparently Team Jeb learned a different message — double down on attacks on Rubio. U.S. News Reports that Team Jeb is selectively “leaking” it’s oppo-research files on Rubio:

Even before Jeb Bush’s uninspiring debate performance Wednesday night, his sputtering presidential campaign was working to prevent defections.

Bush’s top lieutenants convened with donors in sopping wet Houston on Monday to calm their fears and retrench for the unforgiving haul ahead.

After the confab, Bush’s team distributed a 45-page PowerPoint presentation to select reporters, summarizing an optimistic view of the race, touting the Republican candidate’s cash and organization, and assuring supporters that early polls are rarely indicative of ultimate success.

But in that leak to select media, the campaign purposely left out more than half of what was furnished behind closed doors.

The full presentation, obtained exclusively by U.S. News, spans 112 pages and includes a trove of new details, including Bush’s internal polling, his vote goal in Iowa and his advertising plan for January.

Additionally, while the slides released to the media outlined Bush’s overarching argument against Florida Sen. Marco Rubio – that he’s the GOP’s Barack Obama – the complete offering contains more biting, detailed slights, pointedly questioning the character and ethics of Bush’s home state rival.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with oppo-research dumps. That’s why oppo-research is done. And if there is a damaging skeleton in Rubio’s closet, let’s find out now.

But in this case it smells vindictive and petty, a way to overcome Jeb’s downward spiral not by attacking the leaders in the polls — Trump and Carson — but by attacking Rubio out of spite.

Jeb was the mentor and Marco the mentee, but now the roles are reversed.

The desire to attack Rubio now is overwhelming the Jeb strategy, as the NY Times reports (h/t Hot Air):

But among Mr. Bush’s top aides and his super PAC, there is growing contempt for Mr. Rubio and a desire to attack him.

Danny Diaz, Mr. Bush’s hard-charging campaign manager, has told people he would like to accelerate the assault on Mr. Rubio. At a briefing earlier this month for congressional chiefs of staff whose bosses are backing Mr. Bush, Mr. Diaz bragged about the size of their opposition research file on the senator, and said they were prepared to begin a full-scale attack, according to a presidential campaign veteran who was briefed on the conversation and requested anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Mike Murphy, the longtime adviser to Mr. Bush who now controls the super PAC, has told people he would like to go after Mr. Rubio but does not want to do so immediately after the debate because it could reinforce a perception of desperation.

If you will allow me to quote Bernie Sanders’ favorite philosopher:

“History repeats … first as tragedy, then as farce”

Jeb’s campaign has been a tragedy.

It’s about to turn into farce.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.