Is the former Florida governor desperate? Yes, he is. Is he stupid? Well, he thought his surname and aristocratic family connections would be an asset so, yes, he is. Given that his "Plan A" - ride his surname, family dynasty, and (for a Republican) mounds and mounds of "shock & awe" campaign cash to an unopposed Cleveland coronation next summer - has been killed deader than poor Kelsey's nuts by Trumpmania (and would have fizzled even without the Donk Trojan Horse), though, what really has he got to lose at this point?:
Advisers to Jeb Bush in this crucial early primary State have asked national campaign officials in recent weeks to send in President George W. Bush, sixty-nine, who so far has appeared only at private fund-raisers, to vouch for his younger brother on the campaign trail…
Tim Miller, Jeb Bush’s communications director, suggested that the campaign was open to having Bush43 appear at rallies for his brother before the State’s primary in February.
“To the extent it makes sense on the campaign, we’re going to be happy to have his support, and I know President Bush is willing to help,” Mr. Miller said. “Jeb is running on his record [snicker] but there is obviously tremendous respect for and good will toward President Bush in the party [snort] and beyond thanks to his leadership in a time of crisis for this country.”
As for the danger of the former president’s undermining his brother’s prospects in a general election, supporters of Jeb Bush believe the Democrats will try to link the two regardless of whether George W. Bush engages more in the contest.
That's undoubtedly true. Sending Dubya out as Jeb's surrogate sounds crazy, but the forty-third POTUS has recovered much of his former popularity, both within the GOP and the general public beyond in classic "Miss me yet?" fashion. Which says absolutely nothing about his ability to lift up his kid brother's dead weight from the crumpled heap into which his presidential candidacy has collapsed, even in South Carolina, which is (so far) the only location in which Dubya is to be turned loose. The latter of which makes sense, for the most part, since the latter never won New Hampshire in 2000 and is unlikely to change any minds in mindlessly "populist" Iowa.
It's more than a little ironic that the thing House Bush is going for by this move is to lend Jeb "stature," given that that was a quantity never accorded to his big bro before or during his presidency. It speaks more to how little of it Jeb possesses than how much Dubya still retains.
But ultimately this move is probably targeted most directly at Marco Rubio, who has supplanted Jeb as the center-right/"establishment" candidate who has all the advantages his one-time mentor lacks: Youth, energy, charisma, encyclopedic policy knowledge, telegenaity, authoritative eloquence, and smooth, caramel brown skin. Block Rubio in South Carolina after an Iowa/New Hampshire muddle, then stamp him out in Florida, and maybe, just maybe, Jeb leaps back into the driver's seat.
No, I don't see that happening, either. But it's not like he's got anything to lose by giving it a shot. Anything's better than being the first Bush to lose a GOP primary campaign in thirty-six years, and far more ignominiously.