As if Jeb Bush's support for immigration reform and Common Core weren't enough to disqualify him for president in the eyes of the GOP voter base, now there's this:
CNN's Peter Hamby reported that during a speech Thursday night at a South Carolina fundraiser, Bush "singled out Fox News" while expressing "annoyance with the polarizing fights and constant negativity of the political news media."Jeb doesn't like Fox? The main source of news for 47% of "consistent conservatives," according to Pew? A news source trusted by 88% of those "consistent conservatives"?
Bush reportedly said that he only watches Fox "for a few minutes a day before switching over to SportsCenter."
It's just more evidence to the angry base that Jeb isn't one of them -- and more evidence to all of us that, unlike John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 (and since), Jeb has no interest in tossing red meat to the angry base. So forget it -- he has no chance of winning the Republican nomination.
The same is probably true for Rand Paul. He just delivered what's said to have been a major foreign policy address -- Vox's Zack Beauchamp breathlessly described it as "one of the most important foreign policy speeches in decades." (Do GOP primary voters don't read Vox? Um, I don't think so.) At The Washington Post, Paul Waldman is less gobsmacked, but he thinks Paul may have done a fine job of needle-threading in the speech. I have serious doubts about that.
If you took out the five Reagan references and changed some words and phrases here and there, the speech Paul gave could have been delivered by Barack Obama. The difference between a Republican and a Democrat, apparently, is that the Republican says that we should always be prepared for war, but war should be a last resort, while the Democrat says that war should be a last resort, but we should always be prepared for war. Paul also added the controversial ideas that American values lead the world, and we're stronger abroad when our economy is stronger at home. And also, Reagan Reagan Reagan."Mission accomplished"? Seriously?
The interesting thing is that, despite the similarity of Paul's ideas to those of Obama, Paul's speech showed that it probably isn't all that hard to give GOP voters what tey want on foreign policy. All it takes is a little dexterity to push the right buttons, as Paul does in this passage:
Although I support the call for defeating and destroying ISIS, I doubt that a decisive victory is possible in the short term, even with the participation of the Kurds, the Iraqi government, and other moderate Arab states.He takes a policy position many Republicans will disagree with, but leavens it with the mention of "the long war" and "civilized Islam," giving a nod to the clash-of-civilizations sentiment so common on the right. Mission accomplished.
In the end, only the people of the region can destroy ISIS. In the end, the long war will end only when civilized Islam steps up to defeat this barbaric aberration.
Look at the quote -- "only the people of the region can destroy ISIS"? "The long war will end only when civilized Islam steps up"? The base hates Muslims. The base doesn't believe that there is such a thing as "civilized Islam." The base doesn't want to hear that this war will be a stalemate for the foreseeable future -- that's weak-kneed, quisling, Obama talk. The base wants Ronald Reagan talk: "We win, they lose."
At Vox, Beauchamp writes,
The real target of Paul's speech were the neoconservatives: the wing of the GOP that believes that American foreign policy should be about the aggressive use of American force and influence, be it against terrorist groups or Russia. Paul's unsubtle argument is that this view, dominant in the GOP, is a departure from what a conservative foreign policy ought to be.He can't. Apart from hardcore Paulites, no one on the right could ever be persuaded that Obama is a hawk -- or Hillary either. The belief that all Democrats are disloyal, spineless, metrosexual love-bead wearers is bone-deep in Republicans' consciousness.
His tactic for selling this argument is innovative. He's reframed arguments with neoconservatives as arguments with Obama, banking on the idea that he can get everyday Republicans to abandon hawkishness altogether if they see Obama as a hawk.
Unless you think all the older Republicans are going to stay home while under-35s do all the voting, this is a recipe for failure in the GOP primaries.
I'll say this, though: 2016 might be the year when a third-party movement could elect a president. This time, though, it would be an extremely right-wing third-party movement -- just not quite as right-wing on every issue as, say, Ted Cruz.
I think if Jeb Bush or Rand Paul decided to abandon the GOP to the Ben Carsons and Ted Cruzes, both the Chamber of Commerce and the mainstream media could flock to the breakaway candidacy. Jeb or Rand could be just as extreme on taxes and spending and abortion and guns as the most right-wing Republican, but the press would sigh and say "moderate" a lot, and declare this the best opportunity ever for America to break free of the two-party system. There'd be talk about how well Jeb or Rand might work with both parties in Congress -- no more gridlock! Compromise on everything! And a lot of voters, I think, would fall for this nonsense (especially if the running mate were a Democrat -- y'know, Joe Lieberman, Leon Panetta, Joe Manchin).
It won't happen -- but if it did, the press and a lot of centrist voters would be stupid enough to fall for it.
UPDATE: I love this, from Laura Ingraham:
Other things Jeb has in common with Barack Obama? Both take pot shots at Fox & prefer left-leaning ESPN.— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) October 24, 2014