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Matt Towery
Matt Towery
23 Oct 2014
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Two Things to Count On: Georgia vs. Florida and Clinton Vs. Bush

Comment

In a topsy-turvy world, there are still some things Americans can count on. One is their favorite college football team's annual fall clash with an arch-nemesis rival. To name just a few, there is Army-Navy, Alabama-Auburn, Ohio State-Michigan, and what was long ago dubbed "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" — The Florida-Georgia game.

It so happens that the Florida-Georgia showdown is almost always played around election time. Fans and revelers in both states converge on Jacksonville, Florida, to cheer on the good guys and to party with friends, before returning home to cast their votes the following Tuesday.

And just as the Georgia-Florida rivalry is an annual certainty, so in the political arena it seems that there is inevitably on the horizon another chapter in the storied Clinton-Bush rivalry.

I can already hear the groans from the many conservative-wing Republicans who are swimming in a sea of Clinton-weary poll observers. But with two years to go before the next presidential election, there is a feeling in the air that the Republicans have no viable, original candidates and that Hillary Clinton has no credible opposition. For all the boos and hisses this observation may elicit, there is good news: Neither party's nominee will be named Obama.

As for Ms. Clinton, she was basically robbed of the nomination in 2008 by a crafty, left-leaning Democratic National Committee. They punished Clinton for the actions of a Republican Florida legislature, which chose to move up to an earlier date that state's presidential primary, in violation of national party rules.

That stripped Clinton of a huge number of delegates she otherwise would have received for winning Florida. In turn that allowed Barack Obama's relatively thin upset victories in Iowa and South Carolina to create momentum for him and his "Change We Can Believe In."

Hillary and Bill Clinton are still today one of the most popular former first ladies and presidents in modern history. And anyone who believes the famous couple wasn't bitter about Obama's upstart victory is simply out of touch with political reality.

Then there's Jeb. In light of Florida's current fiasco of a governor's race, Bush's eight years as governor in this state stands out as being two terms of both conservative and enlightened service. And Jeb's timing in presidential politics proved to be no more fortuitous than Hillary's.

He ran a strong gubernatorial contest in the 1998 Florida governor's race, but lost. Meanwhile his brother George W. became governor of Texas, which arguably put him ahead of Jeb in any alleged family hierarchy.

That may be an over-simplification, given that the Bush family in truth doesn't calculate various political moves with a political dynasty in mind, as the Kennedys notably did. The Bushes generally run for office when they feel there is a genuine need for their leadership. Those who know Jeb would tell you that he has no burning desire to continue running for office just to be doing it again. In fact, Jeb has always been arguably quite in touch with political reality, while maintaining a reputation for genuine conservative governance and a solid feel for the pulse of the public.

In recent days Jeb has begun to make noise that suggests he's taking a serious look at a presidential run in 2016. Fundraising letters under his name bemoan the general lack of competent political leadership in America, and his recent comments aimed at Hillary have added fuel to the fire of speculation that he may run.

On the other side of the political aisle, what Ms. Clinton brings to Democratic effort to retain the White House is fairly obvious. Vice President Joe Biden seems a likeable enough fellow, but he is hardly considered a serious political leader. Other names mentioned as potential Democratic nominees are dwarfed by Clinton in experience and electability.

Jeb Bush would bring about a consolidation of the much-maligned "GOP establishment." With that accomplishment comes the ability to raise money and attract talent to his team. Those are two things the Republicans badly need. It's the thinking here that the nomination could be Jeb's for the taking.

And that brings us back to the "field of battle" concept. Comparable to the Georgia-Florida football game, a Hillary-Jeb political showdown would match two seasoned and determined foes. And it would probably be a cliffhanger of a contest. It might even lead to an electronic version of the "hanging chad" controversy that marred the presidential election in Florida in 2000.

Either way, the American people would emerge with a leader who is not named Obama. And that would be plenty enough to cheer about.

Matt Towery is author of the book "Paranoid Nation: The Real Story of the 2008 Fight for the Presidency." He has served as an elected official, has advised major national campaigns and heads a non-partisan polling and media company. He is also publisher of the Washington-based Southern Political Report, the nation's oldest active political newsletter. Follow him on Twitter: @matttowery. To find out more about Matt Towery and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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