Alternately, he gets the old Dan-Quayle, deer-in-the-headlights look. This, too, is misleading, in my view. For those of us who knew Dan Quayle, the former vice president was actually bright and mentally agile, just as President Bush has seemed to me on those rare occasions when I've encountered him.
Pardon the Christmas season pun, but it's all in the packaging. Gov. Bush is a smartly wrapped package of utter calm and control when major disasters strike his state.
Hurricanes have been devastating Florida in rapid succession in recent years. But Gov. Bush has always started his deft reaction to each storm even before it reaches shore. He always appears in control of the situation without over-dramatizing. That has struck a positive chord with Floridians that goes beyond their political leanings.
Jeb also seems always to pursue a proactive legislative agenda. This week, the Florida Legislature is in special session to consider the governor's Medicaid reform measures. This is strong evidence that the governor seems to have both a plan and an orderly process to see it through.
Finally, there are no backroom heavies with apparent control over Jeb Bush. No Dick Cheneys or Don Rumsfelds hovering in bunkers and seemingly calling the shots, as with President Bush.
Don't get me wrong. My admiration for the political attributes of the governor's brother doesn't put me in the camp of those who have decided to hang the presidential sibling out to dry. Quite the contrary.
I want to see George W. Bush shed himself of those who would appear to be playing surrogate president. I want to see him willing to engage the press more frequently in a no-holds-barred manner. I want him to set forth a real, live agenda in a one-two-three manner of forceful legislative action.
As I've frequently noted, I want the man to start presenting himself like the powerful president he is.
To the point, Americans know a slick public relations job when they see it. Every time President Bush makes a staged public appearance, his handlers always seem to put graphics behind him that make him look like an actor in a cola commercial. I'm always waiting for him to offer an advertising platitude like, "Refresh yourself, America!"
I say quit staging Hollywood-style junk presentations, and start having the chief executive make his case at either a press conference or -- even better -- behind his Oval Office desk. That's the one setting that gets the public's attention. Unfortunately for the president, and perhaps for the well-being of his nation, it's also the one setting his handlers won't use.
You can bet if Jeb were president, he'd be speaking from the Oval Office.
Don't be too shocked if, a political cycle or two down the road, he is doing just that.
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