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Charles Cutter

Election 2008: Kerry Vs Bush?
By Charles Cutter (
Jan 6, 2005 - 7:05:00 PM

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Selecting Dick Cheney as a running mate was a clever tactical move for the Bush forces. For a number of reasons - health, age, temperament, personal negatives - Mr. Cheney is, unlike most vice presidents in modern history, not positioning himself as a future presidential candidate.

Enter Jeb Bush?

George W. Bush selected his younger brother to accompany Secretary of State Colin Powell in surveying the damage caused by the recent Asian tsunamis. Ostensibly, the choice of Florida governor Jeb Bush was intended to show - finally - that his older brother was taking the catastrophe seriously. To political analysts, the choice suggested that Bush & Co. may be seeking to prolong their hold on the American presidency.

From the Miami Herald, 1/5/05: "Tapped by his brother to head up a fact-finding mission to tsunami-ravaged South Asia, the younger Bush’s appearance on the international front is fueling talk that he may be eyeing his own presidential bid in 2008…"

From the St. Petersburg Times, 1/5/05: "[Jeb Bush’s] profile-raising tour of tsunami-wrecked countries has rekindled talk of a third Bush presidency…The governor’s trip…seems tailor-made for a White House aspirant looking to pad his resume."

From the Palm Beach Post, 1/1/05: "[The Asian trip] may set the stage for Gov. Jeb Bush’s own run at the White House in 2008, despite his insistence he is headed back to the business world in Miami."

Jeb Bush’s background is strikingly similar to that of his older brother. He’s a two-term governor of a southern state; he made his financial mark by trading on family connections in dubious "sweetheart" deals.

When the younger Mr. Bush was running for governor in 1998, the St. Petersburg Times did a profile on his financial and business history ("Make the Money and Run," 9/20/98). The article noted that "The 27-year-old who arrived in Miami in 1980 so broke that he used his American Express card to pay his MasterCard bill is now worth $2.4 million."

How did Mr. Bush manage to cash in so dramatically on the American dream?

Item: "Armando Codina…was one of George (H. W.) Bush’s earliest supporters. He was so tight with the president that he gave Jeb Bush more than his first job in Florida. Codina put Bush’s name on the company and gave him 40 percent of its profits."

Item: "David Eller, a Broward County Republican fund-raiser…partnered with Jeb Bush to market water pumps to poor countries around the world. The company relied on pump sales financed by U.S.-backed loans when President Bush was in the White House. Jeb Bush’s take: $648,250."

Item: "In 1984, Bush put just $1,000 in an office building called Museum Tower. By 1990, he sold out for about $346,000. Similar deals followed…"

It all sounds so familiar.

A Jeb Bush presidency would be good for Bush & Co., as it would extend the blanket of secrecy over their corruption; but a Jeb Bush candidacy might be risky for the Republicans overall. Would the razor-thin majority who preferred George W. Bush to John Kerry in 2004 still support a divisive candidate named Bush in 2008? Or would Jeb Bush encounter a nation afflicted with "Bush fatigue," much as Al Gore’s 2000 campaign confronted Clinton fatigue?

If the thought of Jeb Bush vying for the Oval Office is depressing, consider this: "[John Kerry] is assessing the feasibility of trying again in 2008, friends and aides said yesterday." (Washington Post, 11/9/04). In the 1/10/05 issue of Newsweek, Evan Thomas reports: "Some of Kerry’s followers are already plotting how Kerry can defeat Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses in 2008."

Absent any charismatic new blood in the party, the best hope for the Democrats to retake the White House (and the House, and the Senate) is a decisive public rejection of the Bush-Republican agenda. But, given the tolerance shown by too many Americans over the past four years, what would prove a sufficient catalyst? A new war, followed by a military draft? An economic meltdown, triggered by the Bush policies that have produced massive deficits and a weakening dollar?

It may come to that. If the Democrats can’t come up with a better candidate than John Kerry or Hillary Clinton for 2008, a twelve (or sixteen) year run of Bush presidents is not out of the question.

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