The strange, sad tale of Donald Trump and Jeb Bush continues.
After first trying to ignore the billionaire bigot, and then getting humiliated by him, Jeb is now making his willingness to stand up to Trump the centerpiece of his campaign. He’s just released an ad entitled “The Only One,” in which he slams Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Chris Christie (a sure sign that Christie’s surge in New Hampshire is real) for not attacking Trump. By contrast, the ad shows Jeb lustily going after the GOP frontrunner, while words like “chaos candidate,” “unhinged,” and “liberal” flash onto the screen.
At first glance, this seems laudable. But there are a couple of problems. For starters, Jeb can’t attack Trump without triangulating. In his ad, Jeb doesn’t merely denounce Trump for endorsing Vladimir Putin’s murder of journalists. He also denounces him for being “liberal.” This summer, when Trump was calling undocumented Mexican immigrants “rapists,” Jeb did something similar. He said Trump’s immigration policies would “violate people’s civil liberties” but also that they’re “not grounded in conservative principles” because they’ll cost too much. It’s like saying George Wallace was a bad presidential candidate because he opposed African American equality and because he supported too much government spending. When told of Trump’s comments about Hillary’s “disgusting” trip to the bathroom during the Democratic presidential debate, Jeb did it again. He said that, “Trump is not going to be president because he says these things, it turns people off.” But he added that, “This will enhance her victimology status. This is what she loves doing.” More triangulation. In Jeb’s view, Trump was wrong to insult to Hillary for, essentially, being a woman, and Hillary was equally wrong for being insulted.