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Jeb Bush: I'm Too Poor to Run for President!

And, poor thing, he may believe it

Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

If you truly want to understand the disconnect between the rich and everyone else, or politicians and everyone else, look no further than page 116 of Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's Game Change sequel, Double Down. Karl Rove is looking for someone to run against Obama in 2012. Well, what about Jeb Bush?

The former Florida governor was telling everyone the same thing he'd told Romney: he planned to stay on the bench. [Note to readers: Jeb Bush is not a member of the judiciary. This is one of those Heilemann/Halperin sports metaphors.] It wasn't so much concerns about a Bush hangover that were keeping Jeb there. It was his bank account.

You don't understand, Bush would say to the Republican poo-bahs begging him to run. I was in the real-estate development business in my state. There was a huge bubble, but I missed out because I was governor for eight years. So I'm starting from scratch. If, God forbid, I'm in an accident tomorrow—I'm in a wheelchair drooling, saliva coming from my mouth—who's going to take care of me? What are my wife and kids going to do? I've got to look after my family. This is my chance to do it.

I have read these paragraphs several times, and each time they get better. Where to begin? I think my favorite part is the idea of a member of the Bush family "starting from scratch." But put that aside. As The Tampa Bay Times reported in 2008, when Bush came to office he appeared to be worth around $2 million. It's true that the Florida governor makes less than $150,000 per year, but it's also hard to imagine Bush blowing through all his cash while governing. (The paper reports: "He left Tallahassee in January 2007 reporting a net worth of $1.3 million.") And since that time? I encourage people to read the whole story, which details the numerous, numerous, numerous ways Bush has been making huge amounts of money: the speaking circuit, real estate, consulting, the healthcare industry, etc. 

Finally, however, the real beauty of these paragraphs is the picture drawn by either Bush or the authors of what would happen in the case of a medical problem. (It's true that the authors don't quote Bush saying any of this, but the specificity suggests they have some good sources. Needless to say, Heilemann and Halperin do not note how absurd the whole scenario is.) Here's the thing: Bush is a member of...the Bush family. His parents are absurdly wealthy. His brother is absurdly wealthy. Both his father and brother are former presidents. Does Bush not have health insurance? Is his family without health insurance? Would it even matter if they were? The last question is the one to keep your eye on, because unlike the vast majority of Americans, the answer is no. Most Americans do not have multimillionaires spread throughout their family who could pay for any and all treatments in the case of any emergency. 

As we all know, Bush did not run. But disappointed Republicans can take solace in the fact that the Bush family, with Jeb's dedication guaranteed, will be fine.