It seems pretty clear in retrospect that Donald Trump’s candidacy for the Republican nomination for president effectively rendered Jeb Bush’s candidacy superfluous.
Once the Big Jet started gaining altitude, Jeb was reduced to contrail.
And yet, at least one national reporter assigned to cover him has written movingly that she will miss him for his earnestness and sincerity, his vulnerability and awkwardness.
…Here’s another example of where The New York Times stands head and shoulders above the other news organizations. In a story posted tonight, reporter Ashley Parker wrote a compelling story about the many ways in which Bush endeared himself to her and other reporters following him.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Even as he stumbled as a candidate, he was, in many ways, a reporter’s dream.
“He held news conferences so frequently — nearly daily — that their absence felt newsworthy. And he seemed constitutionally incapable of not answering questions, even those he should not have. As aides tried to hustle him away, he would often pause and turn back, or roll down his car window, to give a final response, throwing political caution to the wind.”
“He gave out his email address easily and freely and, early on, even responded to queries sent there.
“…He talked with deep passion about space travel, and spoke to kids as if they were grown-ups, offering 8- and 9-year-olds treatises on the nation’s debt.”
What made Bush so enjoyable to cover, Parker wrote, was “he was deeply, impossibly human.”
“In a cycle where so many other candidates were able to toggle effortlessly between soaring speeches and masterful debate performances, between well-rehearsed outrage and manufactured indignation, Jeb almost seemed to think aloud in real time, and we got to watch him muddle and bumble through, just like any real person.
“He was deeply self-aware, talking openly about how bad he was at debates and explaining, honestly, that his problem was answering the moderators’ questions too directly.
“He was atrocious at bragging in a year when self-aggrandizement was king.”
Parker said that in almost every speech he made, Bush talked about a severely disabled girl he had met while campaigning for Florida governor. And she recounted how, at one of his final events in South Carolina, a Times of London columnist who had been following the campaign, offered an observation before posing a question. The reporter said: “I haven’t heard any other candidate give a long period of their speech to talking about people with learning disabilities, people at the bottom of the pile. Whatever happens to your campaign, sir, that part you should be really proud of.”
…Amid Trump’s fulminating and the battle for second place between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, there wasn’t much about the Bush campaign that grabbed my attention — or that of most observers, I suspect. So, I’m very glad Ashley Parker took the time to reflect deeply, for public consumption, on the man she has spent hundreds, maybe thousands, of hours covering in recent months. With her felicitous writing and insight into Bush’s personality and character, Parker showed clearly that while Jeb Bush had a losing campaign, he was, and is, anything but a loser. He can walk away extremely proud that he presented himself humbly and honestly and came across “just like any real person.”