I've been wondering when Jeb Bush was going to wake up and realize that he's losing the nominating contest he was favored to win -- although maybe his seeming inability to grasp this fact isn't surprising, given the fact he's the brother of George W. Bush, who went years without noticing that America was losing the Iraq War, something that was obvious to nearly everyone else on the planet.
I've been assuming that Jeb will either (a) flame out or (b) regain his mojo by running vicious negative campaigns against top-tier opponents. Now Business Insider's Hunter Walker tells me that I should expect the latter:
On Monday, news broke that Danny Diaz will be the campaign manager when former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) launches his expected White House bid next Monday.
As The Wall Street Journal reported, the position was originally "expected" to go to David Kochel, another operative who will instead serve as Bush's chief strategist.
... operatives who talked with Business Insider said they thought Bush was abandoning efforts to run a positive, above-the-fray campaign....
[An] operative suggested naming Diaz as his campaign manager was further indication of a more aggressive strategy by Bush.
"Putting one of the best opposition research guys in the business in charge is a dramatic change from Jeb's previous 'joyful' message," the operative said. "This is essentially going back to square one and scrapping the original strategy they touted at the beginning of the year."
I love it. If this is correct, Jeb isn't going to try to be a candidate Republican voters and campaign volunteers will enthusiastically rally around -- he's going to pursue the "death star" strategy Mitt Romney used to crush the campaigns of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Jeb's presumably going to turn the death rays on Scott Walker, the conservative hero GOP voters actually would rally around, as well as Rand Paul (the guy who might be appealing to a few voters outside the usual Republican demographic categories) and Marco Rubio (the guy who seems best positioned to get "new JFK?" coverage from the mainstream media in the general election).
If this works, we'll get what we got in the last two presidential campaigns: a Republican nominee who's a tired old retread regarded as ideologically suspect by his own party's voters. And then, presumably, he'll feel the need to put an ideological purist on the ticket, for balance, just when he needs to try to persuade non-Republican voters that Republicans aren't scary extremists.
Meanwhile, I see the right assuming that all the recent negative coverage of Marco Rubio in The New York Times is the sinister work of the Hillary Clinton campaign. Is it? Or could it be that Jeb is elevating an opposition research guy in part because that oppo guy got a nasty story or two about Rubio into the Times?
I have no idea -- I'm just asking. But if things are going to get bloody in the GOP race now, with Jeb as the main thug, I'm going to cook up a large batch of popcorn.
Crossposted at No More Mister Nice Blog