Not another Bush v. Clinton campaign, you hear from Republicans who aren't for Jeb Bush anyway. Why should these old fashioned brands have such appeal that we actually think we can turn the clock back to the time when the biggest worry was a blue dress. But even that isn't exactly right: There was after all the hopeless search for the weapons of mass destruction and the mission that has yet to be accomplished. Granted, I'm a Democrat. But at least I can find something to look back on fondly, or with amusement, or with anything but a shiver of fear. Not much on the Bush side.
Are we Americans, the children and grandchildren of the greatest generation, just plain afraid? Maye a little lost? Lost in particular as to who we trust to lead us? What makes us think a brand name is better? Do we really expect Jeb Bush to be calling his dad every night for advice on ISIS? Do we even want him consulting his brother? So what does it mean that he has the last name "Bush"? At least Hillary lived through the crises, advised (in some people's minds overadvised the president,) and then went on to advise a president who was not husband, father or brother.
If you judge qualifications by who has lived through similar experiences in the past, you've got to give it to her — not because she's a brand name, but rather an experienced one. And that is a huge difference.
Hillary may or may not be right in her judgments, but at least they are the product of experience on the international stage. Tell me one Republican candidate of whom that is true. And while you're at it, maybe you can explain to me why in a world as dangerous as ours, experience doesn't matter.
Ironic but true: The easiest, slipperiest way to bring Hillary down is to compare her to Jeb Bush, to suggest that they are somehow cut of the same cloth, "the relatives" — maybe second or third string — just two brand names that are keeping us from moving to the future with leaders like George Pataki? OK, Ted Cruz? Carly Fiorina? With great respect, because getting to the top of a tech company is no small achievement — but it's not secretary of state. As William Safire asked pointedly years ago, who wants an inexperienced plumber?
To deny that there will be a "Clinton influence" on a Clinton presidency is obviously naive. But it's equally naive to assume it will be a "Bill Clinton influence" or that the last two decades in the world have not shaped Hillary's views.
I'm not sure any of us could get much beyond "preppie" and "well-bred" and "campaign-born," in discovering just what the Bush brand actually means. Conservative? Moderate? Safe? And is that Jeb?
Jeb has a lot of explaining to do if he is to really turn the Bush name into the ultimate presidential brand. In the meantime, Clinton seems a lot more solid on the things that matter. Imagine.
(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)
- Category: Columns
- Hits: 531