Even by the normal laws of Republican political physics, 2016 was never a lock to be Jeb Bush’s year. The prospect that voters would pick three presidents from two generations of just one family always struck plenty of politicos as at least one Bush too far.
But the calamitous slow-motion collapse of a candidate so certain that his resume, Rolodex and fundraising prowess would make him a strong contender—if not the prohibitive front-runner—for his party’s nomination has nevertheless been stunning to behold. On Saturday evening, Bush dropped out of the presidential race after a disappointing finish in South Carolina, a state that had once been so kind to his father and brother.
In hindsight, there were telltale clues from the start. Bush’s Right to Rise super-PAC raised some $100 million last year — most of it before he even formally declared his candidacy—yet he still couldn’t manage to clear the raucous and splintered Republican field the way his older brother largely did in 1999.