Jeb!: A candidate about eight years too late

| Senior Forum Editor

Next fall, Washington University is planning to bring two of the biggest liars and blowhards in the entire nation to our campus. We don’t know who they will be, we don’t know if the Athletic Complex will be finished in time and we probably won’t even get into the event, but boy, are we excited. Hosting our sixth presidential/vice presidential debate is indeed a momentous accomplishment, but are any of us actually prepared to engage meaningfully with the pressing policy issues that will shape our nation? Maybe, but it’s doubtful. Even after six Republican debates and four Democratic debates, both nomination races are still very much up in the air, and we here at Forum have no idea who to expect in the fall.

Over the next weeks, our writers will take a good, hard, unbiased, completely serious look at the frontrunner candidates to get us prepared for Super Tuesday on March 1. We’re starting with Jeb! because he may not be around much longer, but expect the following profiles as follows: Jeb Bush (Jan. 25), Marco Rubio (Feb. 1), Hillary Clinton (Feb. 8), Donald Trump (Feb. 15), Bernie Sanders (Feb. 22), Ted Cruz (Feb. 29).

Jeb Bush

Who is this guy?

The son of former President George H.W. Bush and brother of other former President George W. Bush, Jeb Bush’s biggest weakness is not being named George. Jeb served two terms as governor of Florida (1999-2007), notably instituting stronger educational standards and signing “stand your ground” gun legislation. Jeb is also the guy who admitted “forty years ago, I smoked marijuana” and said he wanted “to kill a terrorist with my bare hands.” If none of that rings any bells, Jeb is also the guy whose slogan is “Jeb!” but should be: ! (the artist formerly known as Jeb).

What does he care about?

In 2013, noted statistician Nate Silver compiled an “ideological score” for each of the possible Republican candidates. Jeb! scored a 37 on the 0-100 scale, labeling him as a moderate Republican, along the same lines as his father. As for the specific issues, Jeb! is all about dismantling President Barack Obama’s health care law and boosting education. Highlights of his education program include doing away with FAFSA, making colleges responsible for student debt and better student testing and data collection. Compared to other conservatives, Jeb! is fairly lax on social issues, but he does advocate for banning abortions after 20 weeks, leaving marijuana legalization to the states and strengthening gun rights.

Why should we care about that?

In the greater scope of things, we should care about Jeb! because he is a less radical conservative candidate than the other options still on the board. Compared to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, Jeb!’s policies are in line with what we’ve seen from the Republican Party over the past decade, which has driven many pundits to deem him a “nice man” (aka boring). Specifically looking at Jeb!’s ideas, his reform of the college debt process is relevant to all of us. It’s not as drastic as any student would hope for, but, for some it’s seen as a step towards some sort of progress.

I’m bored: Tell me something funny about him.

Despite being 6 feet 3 inches tall, Jeb! might have an inferiority complex. During the September Republican debate, Jeb! was caught standing on his tiptoes just before a photo op began, presumably to seem even taller than his chief competitor Trump (who is 6 feet 2 inches tall). When pressed for a reason as to why he was preening himself, Jeb! explained, “I was looking over to the press to see where my wife was sitting because she’s the love of my life and just I need to have eye contact with her before we started. You’ve been married 42 years that’s the kind of thing you do.” When pressed for a better answer, Jeb! was silent staring off into the distance, desperately searching for his wife.

Who would his vice president be?

At the end of November, Jeb! let it slip that his vice president would be a woman, saying “I think she will be a great partner.” While it might’ve been a forward minded word choice attacking our male-centric culture, as he played it off, it’s more likely that Jeb! is intending to have a woman vice president to pander to a greater constituency of voters. Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley has been touted as the logical choice for Jeb! considering their warm relationship, but the limited geographic reach that the two command (South Carolina and Florida) would be a hindrance. Instead, Jeb! would likely choose Governor of New Mexico Susana Martinez, another moderate Republican.

What would their couple name be?

There is no clear cut choice here as every single possibility is abhorrent. Juzana? Nope. Suzeb? Ew. Jebana? Getting there but still no. Given that each politician has an amazing name, creating a spoonerism shouldn’t be this hard. Alas, we must reach to Jeb’s own eccentricity to create the running mate “Suz!”

So will he win the nomination?

Short answer: no. There is far too much support for radical, extreme positions in the Republican Party for a moderate like Jeb! to draw any attention. Four years ago, Jeb! would’ve been the ideal candidate to confront Obama, but today America wants to be great again, not to focus on the empty excitement of exclamation.

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