I never thought I would feel sorry for Jeb Bush. He is tall. He is rich. Very, very rich. And he can be quite haughty. But last night he looked like a lost waif.
He plainly does not like campaigning. He said as much recently, blaming the “demonizing” that goes on in political campaigns today. And he plainly does not like having to put on those Little Theater performances his advisers dream up.
That swing he took at Marco Rubio last night, for example. It was about as convincing as some schoolboy’s lame excuse for not doing his homework.
Rubio, Jeb’s former protégé, brushed off the assault with ease. Yes, I think Rubio is headed for the Republican nomination when the dust settles.
If you watched the Republican debate, you know what I’m talking about. If you didn’t you probably don’t want to know.
But, just for the record, Jeb – obviously acting on misguided instructions from some overpaid adviser – took Rubio to task for skipping so many Senate votes. If you get paid to do a job, the least you can do is show up, Jeb pointed out. Rubio not only deflected the barb by implying that everybody else in the Senate plays hooky without being criticized, he also suggested the attack was politically motivated.
“The reason you’re doing this now is because we’re running for the same position,” Rubio said amiably. “And someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.”
And then he delivered a punch line that delighted the audience:
My campaign is going to be about the future of America, it’s not going to be about attacking anyone else on this stage.
It should’ve been Jeb’s exit cue. But he was obliged by protocol to see the rest of the debate through.
It was a horrible debate. Prodded by a line of questioning designed to “poke fire” (as they say in my native Jamaica) , the candidates snarled and snapped at each other and finally turned on the moderators in an awesome display of vitriol.
After it was all over, Republican Chairman Reince Priebus lambasted the CNBC moderators, accusing them of creating a hostile environment and lobbing “one personal low blow after another” at the candidates.
I guess that’s what you get for trying to imitate Fox News.
As for America’s future, sorry Marco, the debate never really got around to that. All we viewers got was a confused and confusing mishmash of half baked tax plans, populist shibboleths, threats to wipe the floor with Hillary Clinton and scary misconceptions of such social programs as Medicare and Social Security.
At one point, Chris Christie even had the gall to advise us seniors that the government had looted our Social Security contributions and we should just get over it.
Or we could just vote Democrat.