From Jeb? to Jeb!

In 1979, the late Senator Edward Kennedy, last of his brothers, was persuaded it was time to launch his own bid for the White House. So he challenged the incumbent, President Jimmy Carter, for the 1980 Democratic nomination.

Making it official in an interview on 60 Minutes, then the most watched hour on American television, he flubbed the obvious question: why? He had no answer. Running for president was just something Kennedys did. His campaign never recovered.

Jeb Bush, who hopes to become the third of that ilk to win the presidency since 1988, looked in recent weeks to be making the same mistake. Knowing what we know now, he was asked, did he think brother George had been right to invade Iraq? For several days he floundered between yes, no and it depends. The punditocracy and the Republican money men were not impressed. Jeb! — as his campaign logo styles him — was suddenly Jeb?

On Monday, the former Florida governor officially announced his candidacy. His well-orchestrated rally, in the gym of a Miami community college, went some way to restoring the exclamation mark. What we saw was a candidate who knew what he had to do to beat Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee-apparent, 17 months hence. Continue reading “From Jeb? to Jeb!”