I'm waiting in the George Bush International Airport en route home. On the Sunday morning drive through the winter chill, the city materializes as a sleeping world where no zoning rules or regulations apply. Texas, in key respects, is exactly what the Florida GOP wants Florida to be.
This line of thought trails to the emerging GOP primary for the 2016 presidential election. For that you don't need a crystal ball.
Florida's US Senator Marco Rubio was to walk point for the Jeb Bush candidacy. Even if Rubio did not believe it at first, he must be reading the news too.
The initial concept -- hatched in the center of the GOP -- was to spare Jeb! the carnival show of the 2012 GOP primary by implicitly encouraging a young telegenic Rubio. The concept: for Rubio to deflect the slings and arrows from the other elves who imagine themselves to be legitimate challengers.
None, however, anticipated how quickly Jeb! would lock down big money contributors. This meat pie is cooked.
The Bush fundraising effort has been so successful that already the memo went out: "please, no more contributions over $1 million". In other words, knocking down barriers to corporate campaign contributions achieved its purpose: making it possible to determine the outcome of a Republican presidential primary before even the horses enter the starting gate.
This leaves an interesting conundrum for Rubio's top supporter, Miami billionaire Norman Braman, who pledged at least $10 million if his candidate announces. The problem is that Jeb! is the de facto Republican candidate. $10 million is a lot for anyone to throw away unless, of course, there is some deal for what Rubio will get from Bush in return: a cabinet level position like Secretary of State?
It is also an interesting conundrum for Jeb Bush strategists. They have already largely succeeded in portraying their candidate as a moderate, even though his record as governor of Florida clearly shows him to be an unyielding and rigid conservative. He is a victor who needs to be shown as a struggling candidate.
If there are any Republican challengers they face a difficult choice, not to mention the challenge of being massively outspent by Jeb!
Jeb's challenge is interesting, too: how to appear thrifty, economical and caring of Americans who vote when the keys to the GOP's treasury have already been delivered to his doorstep.
This leaves a clear outline for the work for the GOP/ Fox News juggernaut: paint the GOP primary as a competitive race when it isn't, portray Jeb as worthy of support of independent voters without condemning him too hard, so that it will be awkward for Fox News blowhards to backtrack once the nomination is secured.
There really is only one unanswered question, and EOM isn't the only one to anticipate it: are Americans going to vote for a third member of the Bush family for president and if they are, will it be for father or son, George P., whose path is already being cultivated in the state capitol, Austin, the only city in Texas -- except for San Antonio -- where a Democrat can be elected to office.