“I feel your pain” may be Bill Clinton’s best-known remark that doesn’t include the words “sexual relations” or “inhale.” Two lefty bloggers contended on Thursday that Jeb Bush’s supposed failure to feel the pain of the Republican rank and file is a major obstacle to his winning the GOP’s presidential nomination.
One of the bloggers, the Washington Monthly’s Ed Kilgore, asserted that the base’s distress stems from “a self-pitying sense of victimization and vengeful rage about the alleged persecution of good conservative Christian folk by forces ranging from mocking ‘elites’ to the IRS to lurking Muslims and looting black and brown people, all symbolically embodied or led by Barack Obama.” That doesn’t add up to “a real good context for Jeb Bush,” wrote Kilgore, since Jeb “sees the world as a place to be made safe for making a buck, not as a menacing kaleidoscopic series of threats encroaching on The American Dream.”
Kilgore’s post piggybacked on Peter Beinart’s analysis on the Atlantic’s web site of Bush’s Wednesday foreign-policy speech (bolding added):
Sure, [Jeb] talks about destroying ISIS. Yet he refuses to describe the fight in the religious and civilizational terms now common in his party…
Politically, the problem with Jeb’s Chicago speech is that it was about foreign policy. His rivals, by and large, are merely using foreign policy to express the sense of Christian victimhood and superiority that lurks just below the surface in today’s GOP. The storyline is familiar: Yet again, Christians are under attack from ruthless, totalitarian foes. Last year it was the Hobby Lobby case. Now it’s ISIS.
Jeb deserves credit. His speech was neither demagogic nor hateful. It was also painfully dull. It would not rouse a single grassroots GOP activist. For the life of me, I can’t understand why the media keeps treating him like the Republican mostly likely to be his party’s presidential nominee.