I've never thought John McCain would be the Republican nominee. His own party doesn't like him; they just liked him better than his dizzyingly absurd rivals. President Giuliani? President Fred Thompson? President Romney? President Mike Huckabee? I'm laughing anyway, I don't care if it hurts. McCain used to be much less laughable than these bozos, of course, but that was before he decided to abandon everything he ever stood for to increase his appeal to the party faithful. A pro-torture McCain is a terrible thing to think about in so many ways -- but President Huckabee is enough to make you think again about evolution.
McCain is too old. Everybody knows it, everybody can see it, every day. And his public pronouncements do show a pattern of real confusion about the most basic things. I'm not saying this confusion is due to his age; I don't know that. I'm just saying that it's confusion, staggering, stupefying confusion. If McCain's behavior and pronouncements don't qualify as "confused," we'll have to find a new definition for the word. Everybody knows this, too, everybody can see it, every day. I never thought McCain would really be the nominee because he didn't seem to me to be remotely electable -- and every day's new implosion, with its attendant bubbling of rage just under the surface, makes his nomination seem less and less likely. I don't want him to drop out. I want him to run. I like watching him run, but I know that isn't nice.
As Steve Rosenbaum points out in his earlier post, "When McCain Drops Out," the Republicans and the people who back them and benefit from their policies will not throw away an election. They can't afford to. They don't think they have to. Remember, they are not trying to elect a Republican President just because they think politics is a grand old game, like football or basketball. That's what the embarrassing politics-is-sports guys think, people like Chris Matthews, who don't care if a fascist or a non-fascist is elected so long as it's a close, dramatic race with lots of gotchas all around, and they get to play big parts, panting and blathering, at the finish. Oh, how the press has betrayed us.
The people that call the shots in this country are going to do everything they can to have a corporate-compatible president. That's not Obama. Hillary would have been fine, but she lost her chance with a poor campaign and a failure to distance herself from the old centrist ways and the corporate trough. McCain would have been fine. He appeals to morons with his strong anti-corporate talk (or used to), but he actually carries the old trough around with him as he campaigns, in the back of his crooked-talk local. But McCain won't work because not enough people will vote for him. Not enough people liked him to begin with and fewer now do every day. It's clear to the puppet-masters that the worn-out old maverick needs to be tossed back in the toy box.
So they need a new candidate: someone young, attractive, experienced, philosophically sound, tested, ready for prime time, corporate-compatible, competent, decent (this is harder to find in the ranks of either party than you might think), and untainted.
Breaking firmly but tenderly with his brother, the "good" Bush will soon be the Republican nominee. He's a celebrity with a big celebrity name (the first requirement now in this failing PeopleMagazinocracy). He'll be able to raise a lot of money. He will have all the support of his vile base, and he will ride in like a Knight out of the Southeast to rally every sort of Republican to the tattered GOP standard. He'll talk about getting out of Iraq as soon as possible, though with "honor" and a "victory." He'll have a nebulous "peace plan," just like Nixon, who beat the disgraced warmonger Humphrey with a similar "peace plan." Jeb will quietly apologize for George, shaking his head, tearing up, not wanting to disrespect his brother, but stepping forward selflessly now because he loves his country and he believes every word Ronald Reagan ever said and he believes in victory and honor and tax cuts. And he'll deliver Florida. He'll be talking a lot more about Dad than bro, he'll be getting Dad's winners on board (Powell, Scowcroft, James Baker), and he'll have some very sharp things to say about some of his brother's losers. (You don't alienate many people, even in the deepest part of the Republican cesspool, by saying nasty things about Donald Rumsfeld or "Brownie" Brown.)
Right. Jeb can argue convincingly that it's not his fault his brother ruined the country. Imagine how quietly, and with what assurance and authority, he'll tell us how his experience in Florida prepared him to handle Katrina -- and everything else a real president has to handle. In fact, though perhaps only his legion of surrogates will be able to say this (and say it they will), when you think about it in a fair and balanced way, Jeb and the country have a lot in common -- Jeb himself may be George's biggest victim! Imagine if you were George's brother. He got such a bad deal. Voters will vote for poor Jeb because they feel sorry for him.
Jeb Bush. I've been saying this for a long time. It still sounds pretty silly, I know, but I'm still saying it. Horrible? Yep. Beyond belief? In the United States, in 2008? We'll see.
And if there are enough racists left in this country (no! you think?), and enough fools ready to be frightened again into voting against their own interests, Jeb will be Bush 44.
It won't be long before Chris Matthews, drooling and gushing, is interrupting a panel of pundits to give them his own ideas about Jeb's Vice-Presidential choices.
Wait and see.