If Jeb Bush ran for president...

Jeb Bush speaking in 2013.
Jeb Bush speaking in 2013.
Associated Press

New York Times

It is still too soon for Jeb Bush to decide (yet again) whether to do something about his status as the only male in his family who has not yet run for president. But it is not too soon for the former Florida governor to explain the sort of campaign he would like to run.

Mr. Bush (who has been flirting with not running for president pretty much since his father got defeated for re-election in 1992 but most actively since he stepped down as governor in 2007) said on Sunday that he will decide whether to run in 2016 by the end of this year.

What will tip the scales? He told an audience at his father’s presidential library that he wants to be sure he can run with a “hopeful” message. By that, I guess he meant to distinguish himself from all those other Republicans who run on messages of despair, and perhaps from candidates whose campaigns fill the rest of us with despair.

“We need to elect candidates that have a vision that is bigger and broader, and candidates that are organized around winning the election, not making a point,” Mr. Bush said. “Campaigns ought to be about listening and learning and getting better.” Republicans, he said, have “lost our way.”

But lest you conclude that he was saying anything of substance, Mr. Bush hastily added, “I’m not being critical of my party.”

Mr. Bush also said that one factor in whether he’ll grace America with his candidacy for the White House is if he is sure he can avoid “the vortex of a mud fight.”

For a moment, let’s pretend he really means that. One of the best ways he could avoid getting down and dirty when running for president is to avoid hiring any of the people who worked on the distinctly muddy campaigns of some other Republican presidential candidates — like his father George H.W. Bush and his brother, George W. Bush.

So the nation waits, biting our collective nails, for Mr. Bush to make up his mind. Don’t get too agitated. Mr. Bush did admit that he gets a lot more attention by not running than he would if he actually put his name in contention.

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