Jeb Bush and the Art of the Pre-Campaign Book

After doing five Sunday talk shows to promote his new pre-campaign book, Jeb Bush got tired of being asked if he's going to run for president in 2016.

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After doing five Sunday talk shows to promote his new pre-campaign book, Jeb Bush got tired of being asked if he's going to run for president in 2016. When Meet the Press's David Gregory asked Bush whether he or Sen. Marco Rubio is the hottest Florida politician right now, Bush huffed, "Man, you guys are crack addicts. You really are obsessed with all this politics."  When Gregory seemed surprised, Bush went further, "OK, heroin addict. Is that better? I mean, put aside the politics for a moment. We've got big challenges, and Marco Rubio, to his credit, is working on those." But Bush isn't mad he's being asked about his presidential ambitions. He's mad his pre-campaign rollout isn't going well.

Bush's book, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution, is a pre-presidential campaign book, not a policy book. The most obvious sign of that is the nonsensical subtitle, which reads like the publisher knew "America" needed to be thrown in there somewhere. (Obviously we wouldn't expect Bush to be Forging an Iranian Solution.) More important, Bush is already saying his book called for certain policies out of political expedience, not sincere belief. In response to criticism that Bush reverses himself on a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants -- he was for it in June 2012, and is now against it -- Bush says he was just positioning himself slightly to the left of what was the popular Republican position last fall. "We wrote this book last year, not this year," Bush said on MSNBC last weekImmigration Wars went to press before several Republican senators decided to support a path to citizenship in January.

Bush elaborated on that this weekend. "This book was written last year at a time when the tenor of the debate on immigration was dramatically different than it is today," Bush said on Face the Nation. "I support what Senators Graham and Rubio and McCain and Flake are doing with their Democratic counterparts," he said on Meet the Press. When This Week's George Stephanopoulos asked if his re-entry to politices had been rocky, Bush denied that it was rocky and that it was a re-entry:

"I didn't-- I didn't-- I haven't found it to be rocky, but I'm not viewing this as a political reentry either. I just don't view it that way. I've been concerned about immigration-- and the positive aspects of it being-- put aside while we fight the political fight. And it's a very dangerous time for us to be doing that. And so with my friend Clint Bolick, we set out to write a book last year to lay out a conservative, positive agenda to regain our strength as a nation through embracing our immigrant heritage. And that was the purpose of the book."

This is not true. Books like Bush's typically semi-announce a presidential candidacy and explain the platform the candidate will run on. Mitt Romney called his pre-campaign book No Apologies, a reference to the conservative belief that Obama started his first term by going on an apology tour around the world, saying sorry for how terrible the U.S. is. Mike Huckabee's 2007 book was called Character Makes a Difference at a time when Republicans were dealing with a lot of ethics scandals; he ran on values in 2008. Obama wrote The Audacity of Hope in the fall of 2006; in February 2007 he announced his hope-and-change presidential campaign. Bush got lots of favorable media attention for gently criticizing Republicans for their anti-immigration message in the 2012 presidential primary, and this book was supposed to announce his pro-immigrant candidacy. If Bush didn't want to be asked 2016 campaign questions about his campaign book, then he should have advocated for what he actually believes in.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.