Everything, as the euphemism goes, is bigger in Texas. The biggest thing in the Lone Star state this year, is expectation.
Expectation that hides in the jittery hands of Jeb Bush.
On the surface, Jeb Bush walks the easiest path of all the Presidential nominees.
Not in regards to the Republican nomination, no, but in earning a favourable perception from the electorate. As he is a Bush of the same colour, he has to merely ‘fuck up less’ to be seen as an improvement on George W.
But that is the surface world. Deep below the political minefield, a separate battle rages. One that pits brother against brother, hand-against-hand, policy-against-policy; a lifelong arm-wrestle powered by the Weapons of Mass Acceptance.
When the verbal cannonade falls silent and the rusted bayonets of opposing opinion are confiscated for the next four years, we’ll know which shoulders the laurels of POTUS will sit on.
But that’s irrelevant. The real question is:
Who’d be the second-best President at the Bush Family Christmas?
Who’ll sit astride the towering G. H. Bush? He, forever the turkey-carver, the infallible yarn-spinner, he who eats first, and talks last. He who will never be overthrown. He earned that spot. He rolled over the moderate Dukakis before doing the same to Kuwait.
But he did it first.
Sonny-boy sorted out the Grinch, Uncle Saddam, and all was well in Christmastime Dallas.
Those holiday mornings in 2006 must have dawned bitterly for Jeb, as he had to endure the smug face of George, son-number-one, as he unwrapping the larger, more personalised gifts, the first to fetch daddy a beer, showing off in front of his friends, (Colin and Condoleeza) who were invited, while his friends weren’t.
He wasn’t in the Presidential club.
As the calendar flipped over to 2008, there was change afoot. George the II’s Trumanian approval ratings summoned the Ghost of Future presidency. Bathed in recircled Floridian air, Jeb hatched his plot.
For the time being, he’d have to console his brother, spoon-feed him haagen-dasz and placations, remaining silent during the post mortem rounds of conciliatory golf, when George asked “Is it me?”
Fair Jeb knew it was only a matter of time in the race he had been losing his entire life, a liquid burst of speed manifested through politics; in father’s favourite playground, and the blue ribbon of paternal approval would finally be tacked onto his lapel.
Flash-forward to 2015, and with the Jeb’s masterly scheme within grasp, the question is, if Jeb won the presidency, how would he approach it?
The answer is a sobering one, painted in four x moonshine.
The only way up for Jeb, is down.
Would avoiding the fatal mistakes that bombed George II’s presidency be enough? Would Jeb’s A+ approval rating report card take precedence on the fridge door? Or would George’s Crayola scribbles depicting the execution of Daddy’s nemesis still fly?
Stop picking on your brother.
Assuming the latter would be the case, and using history as a guide, The only method of maximal effect would be one of total surpasstion of George II’s presidency, with inexorable Bushian pomp.
Iraq 3: with a vengeance.
Jeb would have to orchestrate the complete withdrawal of US forces before deploying them, a move, that uncompleted, would forever prune him from the family Bush. Jeb would have to make sure it’d be his war.
It’d have to be Iraq 3.
Not Iraq 2 ½. George’d point that out at the dinner table. If Jed took this route, the empowerment of the Iraqi people would not be the optimal aim. True lasting peace, backed by US social, infrastructure and educatory reform would be pointless.
Peace does not have a face to hang.
If Jeb found peace, he’d be the preferred Bush. But not at Christmas.
So, the middle-east is out. Been done to death.
Well, what of the other ornate decoration on the shrugged tree of Bush?
The Global Financial Crisis.
What George the II unleashed upon Wall Street and lower-upper-middle class America would have to be viewed in history and as the preferable option. Jeb would have to ruthlessly straddle the fiduciary torpedo all the way to the salty catacombs of insolvency.
Jeb’s financial brains trust would have to chart a scheme that’d deliver. A scheme that would revert the US economy to pre-‘new deal’-depression America. The removal of private domain. The re-institution of the Barter system. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
Jeb will know that the Christmas dinner debate demands the facts, and the facts only. Not what it meant to be, but what it is.
The loudest question deserves an answer. How much does Jeb want it?
Will all those lonely nights, spent on the top bunk, wide-awake, listening to the two Georges giggling, come back to haunt us? Is regret, doubt, revenge and jealousy enough to power one to the top seat of the table?
We’ll find out this Christmas morn.