US Elections: Iowa Caucuses Resolve Nothing

A VERY short post to acknowledge today’s primaries in Iowa, as the US begins to select a new President; with Barack Obama barred from seeking a third term by the constitution, one of the candidates who featured today will become President of the United States in November. Whilst Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republicans Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz fared better than expected, today’s results shed little light on who the eventual victor will be.

It really is a short post this evening; operating on ten hours’ sleep in three days, I’m not going to be conscious very long. But I wanted to make some remarks on the first of the nominating contests that took place in the US state of Iowa today (AEDT) as Americans begin the process of selecting a new President.

I have always had a sense that the next President of the United States would be a Republican, but just who that ends up being remains a matter for conjecture; despite the weight of money, Establishment endorsements, and unrivalled name and personal recognition factors all running in her favour, I would be stunned if a majority of American voters could bring themselves to stomach four more years of the Clintons in the White House: and Hillary Clinton, in particular, being in charge.

Today’s vote within her own party sees her make virtually no progress toward sealing the nomination of her party whatsoever; with 49.9% of the votes cast in Iowa by registered Democratic voters, she couldn’t even win outright, which in turn echoes eerily the omen this state delivered on her prospects when she first stood against Obama eight years ago. It’s hardly a ringing endorsement.

By contrast, ageing “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders has reason to be pleased; despite falling short of Clinton by just over a quarter of a percentage point of the vote, Sanders has done better than anyone predicted or thought, although the “Anyone But Hillary” camp is every bit as alive and well in her own party as it is over at the GOP.

Some weeks ago I saw a supporter of Donald Trump attending a rally with a T-shirt that proclaimed “Hillary for Prison 2016” (and if anyone knows where I can get one of those shirts, do please drop a note in the comments section): all jokes aside, the Clinton camp is unable to proceed with any confidence that Hillary won’t be indicted at some point over any number of scandals (email servers, Benghazi, preferment, arcane relics from her legal career, et al) and the prospect she may in fact be charged can and should be sending prospective supporters scurrying in almost any other direction but hers.

The bottom line is that of the 44 delegates that were on offer today to the Democratic National Convention later this year, Clinton pocketed 23, and Sanders 21: and how the Clintons make any kind of triumph out of that is anyone’s guess.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the political ledger — and speaking of Donald Trump — conservative republican Senator Ted Cruz topped the polling with 27.7% of the vote; outspoken loudmouth and “anti-candidate” Trump came second, with 24.3%; and in something of a surprise, Florida Senator Marco Rubio came third with a solidly respectable 23.1%, with nine also-rans rounding out the table and collecting a quarter of the votes cast by registered republican voters between them.

For the stats junkies, a link to the results from both the Democratic and republican primaries held in Iowa can be accessed here.

There’s not a great deal of point making any definitive predictions at this earliest of junctures, and quite aside from the fact I’m completely exhausted tonight (and don’t have the energy) this is a theme we will obviously be covering in increasing detail over the next nine months.

I had thought, as far back as 18 months ago, that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush — the “competent” Bush, as some call him — was the likeliest to emerge from the Republican pack with his party’s nomination, and a good chance of beating (as I then thought) Hillary Clinton to follow his father and older brother into the White House.

How politics changes: today, Bush scored less than 3% of the votes from Iowan Republicans; it could be that Americans have “had enough of Bushes” generally (much as many of them are heartily sick of the Clintons); it could be, given Jeb was a mentor as Florida Governor to the GOP’s boy wonder in Rubio, that the apprentice has merely stolen a march on the master.

One thing I am sure of, however, is that today’s results do not spell the end of the Trump campaign: he was always likelier to prevail later this month in New Hampshire than in Iowa, and unlike many of his rivals is flush with cash and enjoys a popular underpinning that none of the other candidates on either side of the ledger enjoy.

One will say, however, that a rash of drop-outs should be expected in the next week on the Republican side: starting with Rick Santorum, whose 1% today embarrassed the almost one-third share he pulled in this state four years ago, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, whose “endorsement” of Obama three days before the 2012 presidential election arguably swung the result behind Obama, and who must surely be regarded as unelectable after a corruption scandal in his state a few years back and after only polling 1.8% of the vote today.

The only conclusive takeout from today’s result is that despite the overwhelming advantages she arrived at this contest with in her arsenal, Hillary Clinton — one of the most unbackable favourites to win the Presidency in decades — couldn’t even garner half the vote.

This process has a million miles to run, and as it evolves the story will become clearer. But if I were a betting man (which, in small bier, I can be) I wouldn’t be putting any money on Clinton now, and it will be interesting to watch whether voters in other states take their cue from the Iowa result, and now begin to desert her in favour of Sanders.

On that note — goodnight…

🙂

 

 

President Hillary? God Help Us, And God Help The United States Of America

THE WORST PROSPECTIVE CANDIDATE as President of the United States has declared, with an announcement by former Secretary of State and New York Senator Hillary Clinton that she would seek the Democratic Party nomination as President; the development should galvanise conservatives and more reasonable figures in Clinton’s own party, for she would be a domestic liability and international menace if ever elected to office.

At the outset — to answer the charge my trenchant opposition to a “President” Hillary Clinton is motivated by opposition to women, which it most certainly isn’t — I should like to simply observe that there are several capable, high profile women on both sides of American politics who would theoretically make very good Presidents, and that anyone whose politics are dictated by gender rather than a rational assessment of the best candidate for office should identify one of the other women in the field of potential contenders, and get behind her instead.

For Hillary Clinton, to be completely blunt, is just about the worst candidate going around for the Presidency, and should she ever be elected to that office the consequences for both the United States and the wider world are likely to be dire.

For someone who has spent decades at, near, or adjacent to the edifices of real power in the United States, Clinton is someone the US public has gotten to know all too well; there can be no doubt hers would be the most recognisable name on the ballot should she win the nomination of her party as President — which she has now announced her intention to seek — but name recognition and suitability for office are two very different notions.

In some respects, it is possible to feel some admiration for Clinton’s stoic determination; after all, this high-profile liberal lawyer (and no intellectual slouch) was forced to play bridesmaid — literally — to her husband Bill through stints as Governor of Arkansas in the 1980s, two terms as President himself, and what seems to have been a virtual lifetime of dealing with her husband’s philandering and infidelity, with a string of affairs and humiliations an unwanted bequest in life from the contemptible specimen to whom she is married.

I don’t propose today to embark on some forensic analysis of Bill Clinton’s tenure as President, although it is safe to assert it was helpful that it ended when it did, and equally helpful that the Democratic Party was moved on from the White House after eight years lest his deputy — who, among other things, “invented the Internet” and forecast polar ice caps would have melted by last year — be elevated to an unmerited and equally unpalatable stint as the US’ Commander-in-Chief.

Clinton is, to coin an idiom only ever deployed to demean its target, a Washington insider; this scion of the Democratic Party establishment, left-leaning social activist and hypocritical champion of the status of women is synonymous to many Americans with the interests of big business, lobby groups, and not concerned with the lot of the “little guy.”

And I say “hypocritical champion” of women because there is ample evidence Clinton is nothing of the kind; in recent weeks the US has been swept by rumours — neither denied nor, tellingly, responded to by the Clintons, even through recourse to legal proceedings — that Clinton was the enforcer who bullied and harassed and heavied husband’s conquests to keep them from going public; affairs and even rapes are said to have been hushed up and their victims bought off, intimidated, or thuggishly ground into submission.

Clinton has form for this, as we saw last June, as a report emerged in the US press of her boasting and laughing about getting a child rapist acquitted on a legal technicality; this is not conduct becoming of a putative President, and it is to be hoped Clinton’s Republican adversaries make great use of this — and other items from Clinton’s cavalier and wilful past — to explode the myth that she is in any way the candidate for women and families.

But her problems do not stop there.

Her age, for one thing, is a liability that can and should be turned against her; Democrats have form for making merry over the age of some of the candidates their opponents have run for the Presidency (one of the best Presidents in Ronald Reagan not least) and she deserves to be fair game as a 69-year-old by the time Americans vote in November next year.

As I said last year of the Democrats’ age-based crusade against Reagan, also 69 when first elected:

At 69 by the time the election is held in 2016, Clinton will be the same age Ronald Reagan was when he won in 1980, and despite the spectacular successes of the Reagan era, Democrats have spent the 30+ years since lampooning him as a senile gerontocrat whose administration was run exclusively by his wife and his advisers.

What compounds this consideration is the story — again, never denied by the Clintons — that Hillary some years ago suffered a stroke, and whatever recovery might have been made from that event (and be it one of life’s great injustices or otherwise), anyone who has suffered a stroke is literally not fit to serve in the most powerful office in the world with thousands of nuclear weapons at their disposal and on hair-trigger alert.

Foreign policy is going to be important on the watch of the next President, and incumbent Barack Obama — the worst President since at least the thoroughly useless Jimmy Carter, if not ever — has spent the past six and a half years inflaming global hotspots and imperilling the security of the United States and its allies, a track record neatly if sarcastically itemised in Brisbane’s Courier Mail this morning.

As someone who served for four years as one of the most senior members of the Obama Cabinet and who is deeply enmeshed in Democratic Party governance whenever it holds power, Clinton is as culpable in the representative sense for these failings as Obama is, and as President would face the responsibility of dealing with them.

Yet Americans can have no faith she is equipped or willing to do so, and the evidence of this can be found in the track record of her philandering husband, whose own administration (often said to in fact be influenced and run by Hillary) consistently kicked foreign policy challenges down the road to be dealt with by someone else.

It actually matters who wins this election in the US, with a resurgent and bellicose Russia openly threatening nuclear retaliation if held to account for its outrages, the Middle East seemingly erupting in a firestorm with the tacit imprimatur of Obama, and other hotspots around the world seemingly ignored.

Obama has overseen both the world becoming more dangerous and a diminishing of US power, prestige and reach. His country — and the world — cannot afford another of his ilk to follow him, yet like peas in a pod, Hillary would little different to Obama in his mishandling of international affairs, and America’s role in them.

Like most Democrats, there are few signs that Hillary Clinton has any inclination to address the ballooning US deficit and/or national debt, let alone the ideas and/or the backbone with which to do so; as it is, total US debt has doubled during the tenure of the Obama administration, to $US 13 trillion, and with an agenda heavy on left-leaning social spending and expanding public addiction to welfare, Clinton does not present as a responsible or capable economic stewardess.

Other coverage of the Clinton announcement in today’s press may be viewed here and here.

Clearly, this is no subject that can be summarily dealt with in a single article, and the process for electing a replacement for Obama in a little over 18 months’ time is only now sputtering slowly into motion; we will follow the election races on both the Republican and Democratic sides as they unfold.

But although unsurprising, the formalisation of a Clinton candidacy is the last thing the United States needs, and should be regarded as an invitation to better candidates on the Democratic side of the equation to do what Obama himself did the last time Hillary was said to be a shoo-in for their party’s nomination and to oppose, out-campaign and defeat her.

And I reiterate that at this early stage of proceedings, my own support lies with a hypothetical Republican ticket led by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as his running mate: we will see how that dynamic plays out.

But a “President” Hillary Clinton?

Should it ever come to pass, then God help us all, and God help the United States of America; this veteran, inveterate Washington hack is just about the worst prospective candidate either side of US politics could dredge up to inflict on an unsuspecting public.

It is to be hoped, in good time, that even if she emerges with her party’s nomination, her only reward for the endeavour will be a humiliating concession speech — ideally to Bush — which would be neither more nor less than she deserved but which, by virtue of the fact they would have enforced its delivery in the first place, be exactly what the citizens of the US most needed after eight years of mismanagement and neglect by Obama that has made her country and the world around it a far, far more dangerous and less secure place.

 

POTUS 2016: The Bush-Clinton Showdown Is Coming

UNBELIEVABLY, it’s less than two years until Americans elect a President to replace Barack Obama; pundits have long salivated over a contest between Republican Jeb Bush — former Governor of Florida, son of former President George H. W. Bush and brother of George W. Bush — and former Senator Hillary Clinton. This column has already expressed preliminary support for Bush — if he runs. That prospect appears to be drawing closer to reality.

It is — by my standards — a very quick post from me this morning, and in truth, really just to share some material with readers.

It beggars belief to consider that it’s now more than two years since we sat glued to FOX coverage of the US 2012 presidential election, when former Republican strategist Karl Rove insisted GOP candidate Mitt Romney could still be elected even as the decisive swing state of Ohio declared for Barack Obama — sealing his historic, and in retrospect completely unjustified, re-election.

I wanted to post this morning to share a couple of articles being carried in the Fairfax press today; after all, with the recent US mid-term elections that saw Republicans sweep control of Congress (and making Obama a lame duck in every sense for the final years of his stint in the White House) attention in the States will now increasingly turn to who follows him into office, and a crowded field of potential Republican candidates appears to be taking shape more quickly than the number of names suggest.

In truth — barring some miracle of judgement on the part of the Democratic Party — the GOP contest is really to work out who takes on Hillary Clinton in 2016.

My motivation to briefly publish comment on this today stems from a report that Jeb Bush — sometimes referred to as “the competent Bush” — appears to be shifting decisively toward commencing a full-blown run for the Republican nomination; common sense and consideration dictates that were he to do so he would automatically assume frontrunner status, and in the interests of expediency I’m not going to canvass his prospects today either for or agin, other than to reiterate the early support for a Bush candidacy I have previously indicated.

After all, this post is really only to introduce the issue to our conversation, having occupied our consideration literally once or twice in the past couple of years. There will be ample time to talk this through in coming months.

And in any case, this piece gives cursory consideration to the pros and cons of any Bush run that I don’t have any quarrel with.

Rather, a second article (and companion to the first in today’s Fairfax papers) that purports to list out GOP presidential contenders may be of more early interest to readers as a possible guide to who might stand as VP on any ticket headed by Bush.

I tend to think that Bush’s frontrunner status is likely to be enhanced by the considerable experience (and success) he has already recorded as Governor of Florida, as well as the obvious positives he brings in appealing to the Republican base.

And this rules out a lot of the neophytes on the second list, although some of those names come into the mix as a vice-presidential consideration.

Either way, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is likely to fare very badly in the upcoming Republican primary season, credited as he is with swinging last-minute votes behind Obama in 2012 with his glowing praise of the President’s response to Hurricane Sandy, and the subsequent scandals of governance he has faced in his own state.

Obviously, today’s piece is meant as an early talking point: and to provide my own input into this, an early musing over who might be selected as Bush’s running mate if he runs and prevails as the Republican to face off against Clinton.

I tend to think, despite the conservative nature of his Governorship in Florida, that any running mate is likely to be someone to the Right of the Republican Party — partly to offset some of Bush’s perceived drawbacks to the conservative wing of the party, and partly as a sop to it.

And it is likely to be, like Bush, someone who brings “experience” to the table: again, someone like Clinton, with the experience and political muscle she would bring to the Democratic nomination, is unlikely to be beaten by a slate of novices.

The obvious name is Paul Ryan, who stood in second spot on the GOP ticket to Romney two years ago, although whether he would do so again is a point of conjecture.

The names I would single out (at a very, very early stage in the process) are Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who aside from hailing from the Right would balance a Bush ticket geographically, and Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who would provide accommodation (and perhaps perspective) for the Tea Party contingent within the GOP.

In any case, and as I said at the outset, this piece this morning is really only to get the 2016 election into the mix of our discussions. I am certain it will come around again in more detail soon enough: and possibly as soon as the Christmas break, given the odd timing US elections often seem to follow.

I will be back this evening with something a little more topical, and focused on affairs closer to home.

 

Rape Defence: Is Hillary Clinton Unfit To Serve As POTUS?

A 30-YEAR-OLD INTERVIEW — made public this week for the first time — could be the silver bullet that ends the career of former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once and for all; made when she was a lawyer during husband Bill’s first term as Governor of Arkansas, Clinton is heard laughing about her handiwork in getting a man she clearly believed guilty off a child rape charge. Is Clinton unfit to serve as President of the United States?

There are some people who will excuse practically anything on the basis of “youthful indiscretion,” or as a proverbial slip of the tongue, and indeed when talking about young, brash, excessively confident or ambitious and inadequately experienced young people, these pretexts for forgiveness are often appropriate and, indeed, warranted.

After all, the ruination of a career should not be primarily engineered from the mistakes of immaturity.

But rape — and the rape of a child, no less — is no laughing matter, and it doesn’t matter how young or inexperienced one might purport to be, there is nothing amusing about either the act or the escape of a perpetrator from punishment based on legal technicalities.

It is particularly disturbing, therefore, that an old interview with Hillary Clinton — previously a New York Senator and US Secretary of State, lately a rumoured presidential aspirant — has surfaced for the first time this week, and in my view it seals concerns over Clinton’s suitability to be President that have percolated for decades, and at least since her husband made the move from Little Rock to the Oval Office in 1993.

Readers should peruse this story and, particularly, listen to the six-minute audio file embedded in the article. This is material that has been buried since it was compiled in the 1980s, and with the contest to replace Barack Obama as US President set to ratchet up a notch once midterm elections in November are out of the way, its public release now is something Clinton could well do without.

I acknowledge that in handling the case in question — and representing her client, a 41-year-old man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl — that she was only doing her job; I also acknowledge that in plea bargaining the offence down from first degree rape to “unlawful fondling of a child” based on the destruction of a key piece of evidence by a forensic laboratory that had analysed it, she availed herself of a legal loophole by which to legitimately do so.

Where the problem for Clinton arises lies in some of the other details revealed in this interview, in Clinton’s obvious attitude to both the matter and the complainant, and the implications these raise over her integrity and suitability as a candidate for high office.

This case — to be sordid for a moment — appears to have pivoted on the underwear the accused was wearing on the night of the alleged rape; a section of this (encompassing, it seems, virtually the entire area of contamination with bodily fluids) had been removed by a forensic lab and analysed, with a report on the composition of the foreign material provided to the Court.

However, due to an intricacy of law that I don’t pretend to understand, the fact this evidence was subsequently destroyed (despite the official forensic report having being filed) apparently rendered the prosecution case as good as pointless, enabling Clinton to secure the deal for her client that got him off the charge of rape in exchange for a plea to something less serious.

So far, there’s nothing wrong in that, personal opinions readers might have notwithstanding.

But Clinton makes it very clear she believed her client was guilty: her musings that by passing a lie detector test, he “forever destroyed (her) faith in polygraphs” make that plain.

So, too, does her laughter over various points she makes in the interview, and it is this apparent mirth — hey, I knew he was as guilty as sin, right? But I got him off, and aren’t I clever? — that in my view goes to the heart of her suitability to be President, blowing apart as it does the credibility of her claim to be an unwavering champion of women’s rights.

There is nothing funny about a child being raped; the fact the perpetrator — now deceased — got off as a result of the inadvertent destruction of key evidence doesn’t justify or excuse the fact that someone finds the matter worth laughing about.

I accept that having agreed to defend this fellow, Clinton was bound to do so whether she believed him to be innocent or guilty. But her conduct in this interview is at times tantamount to bragging, which is tasteless at best and downright despicable at worst given the welfare of a 12-year-old girl was central to the case.

As the linked article notes, the victim of the alleged rape claims to have never come to terms with the attack, and harbours ongoing resentment and hostility toward Clinton for her actions.

To be fair, nobody can deny that over the course of her life Hillary Clinton has done a lot of charitable work that has benefited many people. Even so, the appearance of this material will give impetus to those who argue that such work was undertaken purely to build a political profile in readiness for the time she would step clear of her famous husband, and pursue a political career of her own.

And it bears pointing out that this interview wasn’t embargoed, or withheld for security-related reasons; it was never published, it seems, because notorious lad magazine Esquire — for which it was taped — simply opted not to run with it. Its emergence now, however, is difficult to regard as coincidental, coming as it does amid rampant speculation that Clinton will shortly confirm her intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the Presidency to succeed Barack Obama when his term expires in early 2017.

It raises more of the questions that have perennially been asked of her judgement over more than 30 years in the public eye; the cavalier regard for propriety, which critics have often sought to portray as observed only by stonewalling and reliance upon technicalities, evokes memories of the Whitewater scandal that threatened at one point to terminate the Clintons’ tenure in the White House in the 1990s.

Her apparent betrayal of lawyer-client privilege in the interview is a telling pointer to this attitude; Clinton seemed to place greater emphasis on self-promotion.

So, too, is the revelation her certificate to practise as a barrister in Arkansas was suspended in 2002 for failing to undertake certain requirements around career development she was obliged to meet.

And the whole episode will do nothing to promulgate her claims to act as an advocate for women and children.

The irony is that just as Clinton’s opponents begin to produce what is reasonable to expect will become a mountain of material to discredit her, it is already clear Clinton is a flawed, compromised candidate for the Presidency.

At 69 by the time the election is held in 2016, Clinton will be the same age Ronald Reagan was when he won in 1980, and despite the spectacular successes of the Reagan era, Democrats have spent the 30+ years since lampooning him as a senile gerontocrat whose administration was run exclusively by his wife and his advisers.

The Democrats have also since used age to help defeat two other Republicans — Bob Dole at 73 in 1996 and John McCain at 72 in 2008 — and can hardly expect Clinton’s age not to be turned against her.

As a hypothetical President, her return to the White House would reopen many wounds from the administration of her husband: the reputed iffy deals, the policy torpor in international relations, and the divisions the controversial first couple opened in American society the first time around.

The domestic political climate in the US is arguably far more fraught today than it was in the 1990s: with arguments around national security, budget management, healthcare and environmental policy seemingly insuperable, as they are in many Western countries, it is doubtful as to whether such a divisive figure as Hillary Clinton could unify Americans as all US Presidents seek to do.

In any case, I have long maintained that if the Republican Party has the good sense to endorse Jeb Bush as its candidate (provided he can be prevailed upon to run), the Republicans are likely to return to the White House irrespective of who the Democrats put up — Clinton or otherwise.

Even so, I think this episode raises a question that American voters (and, by extension, anyone among America’s allies, partners and adversaries who ponder such matters) are increasingly going to be forced to contemplate over the next two-and-a-bit years, assuming Clinton goes ahead and contests the Democratic nomination.

Is she even fit to hold office? I suggest the answer is no. It remains to be seen what conclusions others draw — and not least, her Democratic Party colleagues and mentors.

 

Another Bush As President Of The United States In 2016?

GEORGE W. BUSH resurfaced this week, in the time-honoured tradition of former US Presidents opening presidential libraries; he has advocated younger brother Jeb running for the US presidency in 2016. Could this most successful of political dynasties produce another American President?

Controversy is never far away these days when it comes to discussing the Bush family; like the Kennedys and the Rockefellers and the Roosevelts, it has been among the most prominent clans in American political life for generations, having produced Senators, state Governors, and two Presidents, and whose members have also filled a myriad of other roles in circles of American governance.

Much of this controversy stems from the Presidency of George W. Bush, which divides and polarises opinion both at home and around the world. Was this the Presidency that saw America reclaim its position in the world, and begin the painful process of migrating the US to the realities of the 21st century?

Or was it the defective and misspent opportunity presided over by a village idiot and manipulated by “evil” Dick Cheney, which heightened the risk of worldwide war and sent the USA down the path of economic ruin?

I suspect final judgements on these issues will take many years to crystallise — history often does. But Bush has reignited a discussion that has simmered since his second term began in 2005: should younger brother (and former Governor of Florida) Jeb Bush run for the Presidency in 2016?

Three years out, my sense is that he should; the Republican Party will need a nationally recognised candidate with a proven record in public office if it is to stand any chance of reclaiming the White House when Barack Obama leaves office in early 2017.

This is an area in which Republicans have fared poorly since the departure of Ronald Reagan from the Presidency in 1989; his successor, former President George H. W. Bush, could well be viewed as lucky.

In 1988, he followed the most popular President in recent times into the White House four years after the most spectacular presidential election win in US history, and at a time in which the boom of the 1980s had yet to fully burst and when the USA was riding high on confidence.

His defeat in 1992 by Bill Clinton was a salutary lesson in the mechanics of modern election techniques — and in the importance of honesty, having promised that Americans could “read my lips: no new taxes” and then proceeded to introduce precisely those.

Bob Dole in 1996 was hamstrung by the fact he was too old (at 73) and on account of being widely regarded in America as too divisive; John McCain in 2008 was also seen as too old (72), swimming against the tide of the economic disaster now known as the Global Financial Crisis, attributed rightly or wrongly to the policies of the outgoing Bush administration.

And Mitt Romney last year was simply the wrong candidate: decent and articulate, he looked like a President, but was too similar to many Republican-inclined voters to the Democratic Party to offer any real alternative to the incumbent Obama.

Ironically, and on paper, George W. was an impressively-credentialled candidate; twice elected as Governor of Texas, he was telegenic and popular, although his folksy style (and capacity to mangle words) made him a figure of fun and derision in many quarters.

I think that had Newt Gingrich — former Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 1990s — won the nomination to stand against Obama last year, he probably would have won; but hypotheticals are just that, and it brings us back to the question of whether Jeb Bush should run in 2016.

Whoever does stand for the Republican Party is likely to face off against former New York Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; the merits of another Clinton as President are as dubious to me as those of another Bush are to those on the political Left.

But the fact of the matter is that Republicans are going to need to select a candidate capable of beating the high-profile, well-resourced Clinton, who boasts a formidable campaign weapon in the form of her husband, teflon-coated ex-President Bill “Slick Willy” Clinton, whose popularity remains vast despite his various failures and foibles in office.

Viewed this way, the GOP has surprisingly few options, despite the score of names that make up the likely field of starters — even this far out from the election.

Romney has already said he will not run again, and in any case would face the same question of his age (69 in 2016) as did Dole and McCain; Gingrich, 72 in a few years’ time, has probably missed on his first and best opportunity in failing to clinch the Republican nomination last time.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum — nominally having put in a strong showing in the GOP primaries against Gingrich and Romney — will likely run again, and at 58 when the contest occurs is certainly the right age.

Yet his brand of conservatism is too doctrinaire and rigid to appeal to the majority of swinging voters in America’s political centre, and what might play well with the Republican Right is probably a recipe for disaster at a general election.

And the raft of past and present Republican state Governors that is habitually trotted out — most notably at present, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie — comprises a group of individuals with, mostly, little profile beyond the boundaries of their own states, and little public support in the context of the US Presidency.

Christie is different, in that he has willingly grabbed the opportunity as Governor for media exposure on a national basis whenever it has arisen, most notably during the Hurricane Sandy disaster in the dying days of the 2012 campaign.

But Christie — a veritable mountain of a man — faces ongoing concerns that his weight poses a grave danger of him dying in office as it is, let alone within four years of any presidential win in 2016.

And he isn’t likely to make it that far in any case, with a large contingent of Republicans residually livid with him for fulsomely endorsing Obama’s handling of the Sandy disaster, and to many minds (including my own) effectively terminating Romney’s campaign for the Presidency from within, one week from polling day, by doing so.

It is inconceivable the same Republicans would tolerate his candidacy.

This brings us back to Jeb Bush, and to my mind he’s the GOP’s best bet by a mile.

He declined to enter the fray for the Republican nomination in 2012; possibly a wise decision, given the circus the primary contests degenerated into and given Obama was always likely to be re-elected once Christie effectively intervened in his favour.

His background in politics is exemplary; after several years in that state’s Congress, he became Florida’s Governor in 1999 in a state that had not elected a Republican between 1877 and 1967, and over which Republican Governors had presided for just 17 of the 145 years to that point.

Jeb Bush ticks a lot of the boxes that many of his Republican contemporaries don’t, or can’t; an orthodox conservative politician, he nonetheless boasts relationships with, and support from, Hispanic and Asian Americans that would be critical in any Presidential bid.

(Romney, for example, won 81% of the Presidential votes cast by white Americans, and still lost to Obama).

And Spanish-speaking Bush, married to a Mexican and espousing innovative and practical ideas about how to solve the USA’s illegal immigration crisis, offers his party the means with which to reach out to and embrace minority communities in America that the likes of Romney and Santorum could only dream of.

Critics will point to the facts of the Florida controversy in the 2000 election that saw his older brother become President and, cruelly, even the fact he is a member of the Bush family at all.

I think the idea of Jeb Bush as President of the United States is not only interesting, it’s probably the best option for his country after Obama leaves office, and especially in light of some of the openly socialist and ideologically driven left-wing measures introduced by the present administration that will need to be wound back.

Of his intentions regarding 2016, Bush simply says that he will make a decision in at least a year from now, in time for the endless drudgery of fundraising and planning that is part of a Presidential run in the US to commence, should he opt to throw his hat in the ring.

In the view of this column, that’s a year for his contemporaries in the GOP to get to work on him, and to convince him to run.