Rerun with Negative Connotations

If Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton run for the U.S. presidency it would make noteworthy political theater, but both names conjure up bad memories.

The presidential primaries in the U.S. begin exactly one year from now. In a little less than two years, on Nov. 1, 2016, Americans will cast their ballots to choose Barack Obama’s successor. The competition to choose who will run in 2016, however, has been underway in both parties for several months already.

One possible scenario being currently discussed with much media enthusiasm is Jeb Bush vs. Hilary Clinton. The Republican has already started putting out feelers to see if he should seriously consider a presidential run. The Democrat will make her decision within the next few weeks, and it appears that she will run for a second time.

Bush vs. Clinton — that could be the stuff of enormous political drama: a gripping story about the intrigues and friendships and the successes and failures of two families that have dominated the White House over the past 25 years.

Bush-Clinton involves a sort of love-hate relationship. The families went head-to-head for the first time about 20 years ago when Hillary’s husband, Bill, climbed into the ring and defeated Jeb Bush’s father, George Herbert, known now as Bush 41.

Both Seen as Politically Moderate

Eight years on, Jeb’s brother George W. avenged that insult to the Bush family name and was elected as a controversial 43rd president. Hillary Clinton had sought to become president in 2008 but lost in the primary election to Barack Obama. Despite being a republic, America shows a strong tendency toward political family dynasties. Beside the Bush family and the Clintons, see also the Roosevelts, the Rockefellers and the Kennedys.

But Jeb Bush and Hilary Clinton are no mere defenders of their respective family names; they are politicians in their own right. Republican Bush served as governor of Florida and Democrat Clinton was New York’s representative in Congress. She also served as President Obama’s secretary of state for four years.

Both are seen as representing the political middle and, on matters such as immigration and foreign policy, have more or less moderate views within their party. That doesn’t exactly endear them to their party’s base but may help them in the primary elections. In any event, early surveys indicate that most Americans would prefer their next president to be moderate and open to compromise.

For that reason, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton are the current favorites within their respective party establishments. Whether the rank and file agree with them is less certain. Above all, Jeb Bush is regarded by die-hard Republicans as too liberal and not ideologically rigid enough.

Dynasties Are a Heavy Burden

Jeb’s mother, Barbara, has expressed her reservations publicly. When asked during a television interview about her son’s possible candidacy, she replied somewhat aghast, “There are other people out there that are very qualified, and we’ve had enough Bushes.”

But there is another reason mitigating against another Clinton-Bush face-off: their names are a heavy burden, which many Americans associate with a more inglorious chapter in the nation’s political history.

Jeb Bush, for example, must constantly try to distance himself from his brother’s White House history and, despite the fact that the anger against him is fading with time, another Bush in the Oval Office could quickly ignite those same fears. Jeb Bush is faced with having to convince voters that he’s not his brother’s twin, who would start another war. There would be little room for any other political message.

Hillary Clinton is also trapped into the permanently defensive position of fighting off the shadows of the past. While her husband Bill is now highly popular, the prospect of another Clinton administration would quickly dredge up the darker side of his eight-year White House term, with all its attendant lies, affairs and dissembling.

Jeb Bush vs. Hilary Clinton: That matchup might make for interesting conversation, but it wouldn’t be helpful as a guide to the future.

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1 Comment

  1. There is no “dark side” to the Bill Clinton years. He got oral sex from an intern at the White House. This is not unheard of in the annals of politicians, and you Europeans should be the last to think that is really such a big deal that it will haunt the future if Hillary Clinton becomes President of the U.S.

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