Morning must-read: Clumsy book tour shows Jeb Bush still untested on national stage

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This morning’s must-read comes via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.

Smith discusses how the  “clumsy” book tour Jeb Bush embarked on this week has proceeded so poorly that his supporters are being forced to acknowledge that Bush’s political skills are a bit rusty six years after leaving Florida’s Governor’s Mansion.

Many of Smith’s points are the same ones I’ve been making this week when I’ve been asked about Jeb’s prospects (check out my post from earlier this week — “Jeb Bush is about to pull a Charles Barkley”), that Jeb has not run for political office in a decade, that when he did run he was the biggest of fish in Florida’s small pond, and that when Bush left office in 2007 he did so as not the most popular figure to ever grace Tallahassee. I remember the editorial writers celebrating the return of fresh air after two terms of Bush’s hegemony over state politics. Even if you disagree with that assessment, you must acknowledge that, in the end, Bush was not the beloved figure that Bob Graham or Lawton Chiles were.

Whether Jeb was trying to prepare the way for a presidential run or simply influence the debate, he has not improved his chances to do either. It’s the book’s fault. Potential candidates who write books are trying to hit an impossible target. They have picked a medium that expects bold declarations and truth. A book is supposed to be something above the normal prattle. But presidential campaigns do not reward bold declarations of truth. A campaign requires a book of comfortable truths, nothing too abrasive you’ll have to answer for later.

As Smith concludes, “It’s one thing to make an off-hand comment that requires backpedaling or clarification on a hot-button issue. It’s another to co-author a book on a controversial topic then make a carefully planned publicity tour that prompts much of the political world to question not only where you stand but what your motives are.” 

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.