Jeb Bush struggled manfully to energize his combat with Donald Trump in Wednesday's GOP debate, but his subsequent PR is a risky strategy. Under pressure from Trump he leaped to defend his brother's presidency with the words "he kept us safe", following-up by repeating the slogan in campaign releases accompanied by the picture of GW Junior standing amid the rubble of the twin towers.
Perhaps he's banking on short memories, or rewritten history. But the slogan opens up sore wounds, and the image smacks of morbid and misplaced opportunism. Dragging us all back to the final days of the last Bush presidency is a risky strategy. Relatives and friends of those buried beneath that rubble might dispute that he "kept us safe", as might the countless thousands embroiled in the subsequently questionable wars of Afghanistan and Iraq, and those at home stuck in long lines at airports removing shoes, pen-knives and water bottles. Then, there was the collapse of the economy in those final days, and the lasting image of a Saturday Night Live parody in which Bush (Will Ferrell) intervenes to ruin an election campaign pitch by McCain and Palin, (Darrell Hammond and Tina Fey) desperately trying to reinvent the Republican movement in his wake.
To redefine a famous phrase uttered by Reverend Jesse Jackson, Jeb needs to get "out of the bushes", and define his own path. He now risks being mired in an endless media dialogue about the past, in which journalists will pump him with quotes from the findings of the 9/11 Commission - not terribly flattering to his brother. To many, Republicans included, the Bush record is permanently tarnished. Recalling it, or reinventing it, is dangerous PR, nomatter how strong the pull of family loyalty and legacy may be.
Sept 17 2015