6/21/15

This is the second part of the “promised” three-part posting.

Jeb Bush was running for president unofficially for six months. He finally made it official last Monday.

Bush is a very impressive person. I always had the suspicion that he is a much better executive than his brother.

He absolutely is more eloquent, which indicates to me that he is more intelligent than his brother. By the way, his brother was on balance a good president but only because he had the right vision for things, the courage to follow through, and I suppose because the president that followed him is so, so bad.

But I am digressing. Coming back to Jeb . . .

His record as governor of Florida is exceptionally good. While not doing anything as impressive in the eight years since then, he at least managed to stay out of any scandals, trouble, or controversies. On both record and lack of controversies he is miles ahead of the presumptive Democratic candidate: Hillary Clinton.

He speaks with knowledge and gravitas on most issues.

So why not embrace him?

First, to be clear, if Jeb Bush is the Republican nominee for president—which is highly likely—he will be a formidable candidate, better than Clinton in every respect on any measure by so far that it should not even be a contest, although unfortunately it will be.

He is clearly the most favorable Republican amongst the Democrats.

However, I believe that compared to few amongst the other potential Republican candidates, Bush has one big deficiency: he is too timid.

When he speaks, Bush lacks fire and enthusiasm. Many noted that his announcement on Monday was better than expected because he showed enthusiasm and energy in his speech. The fact that he rarely shows that side makes one wonder if he is able to carry the people he needs to carry with him, and attract those he needs to attract, to deliver a win. We live in a media dominated age, and if you do not have what it takes to master that medium, you will not win. Charisma is necessary, fire-branding speeches are required, and it does not matter how good you are; without being articulate and convincing in public appearances, you will not make it.

Bush is way too timid and sort of hesitant on everything.

He is better than Clinton, but that is not optimal if there are other Republican candidates who are even better than him in this regard AND would be as good or better presidents.

In the same vein, Jeb Bush cannot bring himself to give clear-cut answers. He is not anywhere near as bad as Clinton, who has mastered the art of saying absolutely nothing and using only vague platitudes; he is not as bad as that but he is still pretty bad.

When asked if he thinks that Clinton is dishonest, his response is, “This is for the voters to decide.” Really?? No! We want to know what you think about it. Surely you must have an opinion on someone that you expect to be facing as your opponent in the presidential race. You cannot just shy away through this kind of platitude.

A proper, blunt but honest, answer would have been, “I don’t know if she is legally dishonest. Only a proper investigation by the authorities, which I think should take place, can tell us that. However, I will say that she clearly does not meet the threshold of ethical behavior required for the highest office in the nation.”

Now, that is the kind of answer that I would expect from someone who intends to be the Republican nominee for president.

Further, knowing the media he is faced with and its heavy liberal bias, I would have added in a “preemptive strike” that, contrary to her husband who was clearly immoral and unethical when he was a president, at least his digressions were on the private, personal, family values level, not in relation to the governing of the nation. Hillary Clinton’s ethical breaches are clearly related to governing practices, shades of pay-to-play, potential corruption in decision-making, and lack of transparency; these are of much greater concern.

Another example of Bush’s timidity was his acutely mishandled response to the question about Iraq: Would you have attacked Iraq knowing what we know now? Surely he must know that this question—in hundred different versions—will be asked of him throughout his campaign, and he should have been prepared with a decisive and clear answer for all these versions. He was not. It took him good few days to find his tongue and once he did it was a cop-out.

Here is what I believe would have been a forceful clear response:

I do not deal in hypotheticals.

The decision to attack Iraq was made based on a number of reasons, prominent amongst them the unanimous view, held at the time, that they had WMDs.

You can argue if it was right or wrong at the time to attack based on that information, but most people supported it—including Clinton, by the way.

What you cannot argue is that there were many mistakes made in the prosecution of that war. Many.

However, you also cannot argue the fact that my brother, showing political courage and determination, fixed those mistakes and left Iraq in very good shape considering that this is the Middle East and not, say, Switzerland. President Obama, Vice President Biden, as well as many others have stated as much.

The tragedy of Iraq is that this president and his national security team, including the current Democratic presumptive nominee to become the next president, made a mess of it AFTER they took over. Their excuse that they could not negotiate a Status of Force Agreement with Iraq is so lame as to actually, if true, shed even worse light on this administration in terms of weakness and incompetence. But I don’t believe that is what happened. They left Iraq because they did not understand—not one of them—how to handle an emerging democracy in the Middle East. They simply had no clue. They doubled down on that terrible mistake with another one of not intervening in Syria early on when such an intervention could have born fruits. It is the combination of these two major errors that brought Iraq to its knees. Not the decision in 2003 to invade it.

These two cumulative errors are made even worse by this administration’s policy of negotiating with the most malevolent force in the Middle East: Iran.

Altogether, the decision-making of the national security team of the Obama administration—in which Clinton was, of course, a major part—is absolutely terrible and is, and will continue to, damage our national security for decades to come. It is a big mess.

That is a 10 out of 10 response. Avoid the contentious issue, give a correct lesson in the real facts, show full command of national security issues, and put the blame where it belongs: Obama/Clinton. Unfortunately, Bush was not even close.

As I said before, this country is in dire need of a revolutionary presidency. The mess left behind by Obama is of epic proportions on all fronts. Neither timidity nor an “on the one hand and on the other hand” type presidency will do here.

This is why I believe that there are some younger, less “political animal,” candidates in the Republican roster that will do a better job than Jeb.

Jeb Bush is many times better than Hillary Clinton, but not my favorite.