LOS ANGELES, Nov. 2, 2015 — Last Wednesday’s third Republican debate was a circus, and the candidates were the ringmasters. As much as John Harwood, Becky Quick and Carl Quintanilla thought they were in charge, with each “gotcha” question and the pushback from the candidates, they pretty much reflected that they were not the adults in the room.
While CNBC and the mainstream media were the biggest losers, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush rated a very close second.
The Jeb Bush death watch started before that evening, and has only intensified over the weekend. Maureen Dowd and Peggy Noonan penned columns in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, respectively, all but telling Bush to stick a fork in it — you’re done.
Peggy’s WSJ piece, “The Not Ready for Prime Time Bush” said almost in lamentation, “It‘s widely believed among high Jeb supporters that Mr. Trump — “The Gong Show,” as they call him — has kept Mr. Bush from rising. But Mr. Trump isn’t the problem, he was the revealer of the problem: Jeb just isn’t very good at this.”
Maureen Dowd is much more scathing — would we expect anything less? — in the Times: “Jeb is trapped in a nightmarish déjà vu. Once he was cast as the wonky one while his brother, the sparky one, slipped ahead. Now Jeb is cast as the wonky one while Marco, the sparky one, slips ahead.
“Jeb got confused. He thought he was still in an era when people had to pay their dues.”
Bush is still denying, not convincingly, that he is not bowing out and even said at a weekend campaign rally that he needs to be more “authentic.” So what has he been up to this point?
Using data from Google Consumer Surveys, the Independent Journal Review asked the poll question, “Which GOP presidential candidate do you most want to drop out of the race?”
Jeb Bush garnered 23.7 percent of the results, followed by Sen. Rand Paul at 20.5 percent, with Donald Trump, of all people, rounding out the top three at 16.8 percent.
Trying to staunch the bleeding, the Bush campaign rolled out a new slogan today, “Jeb Can Fix It,” and released an e-book that reveals a more “personal side” to him.
Don’t you just love the smell of desperation in the morning?
This new slogan was greeted with hilarious mocking on Twitter:
Jeb Can Fix It actually refers to the 2000 election in Florida.
— John Fugelsang (@JohnFugelsang) November 2, 2015
"Jeb can fix it" sounds less like an expression of confidence in his governing ability than a desperate plea not to give up on his campaign.
— Jim Antle (@jimantle) November 2, 2015
— Dreaditor (@Mededitor) November 2, 2015
Looks like most have gone beyond death watch to dancing on the grave. Don’t R.I.P. Jeb!, just go away.
The silver lining to the cloud of this debate debacle: We may now finally have a race with candidates who know how to assert themselves and not to depend on the good graces of an already biased media to get their message to the people.
What the candidates did the other night to the MSM should not be underestimated. At last, it was not just a lone Newt Gingrich bashing the ideological inanity of his interlocutors, but a number of them, including Cruz and Rubio. By presenting a relatively united front against the clear animosity emanating from the three CNBC hosts, the candidates were able to keep the focus off the stupid questions (“are you a comic book version of a campaign?”) and onto the biases of the moderators themselves.
Which is why the morning-after headlines were not so much about who Wwon” but how CNBC — and by extension the entire MSM — disgraced itself. Bashing the media may not be a policy platform, but it’s nourishment and sustenance to a long-suffering conservative constituency which doesn’t much care whom or what is being bashed so long as somebody or something is being bashed. They’re tired of being punching bags, and especially tired of getting smacked around by folks like Reince Priebus (who approved the CNBC debacle), who are ostensibly on their side.
The RNC is currently working with the candidates to “retool” future debates, but it is doubtful that Bush will make it past November, let alone February. While some of his donors would like to drag his bleeding and bloody corpse of a campaign through, it might be wise to make a more dignified end and light the funeral pyre.
Just please do it before Christmas.