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For 2016, Bush vs. Clinton

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
November 27, 2012 -- Updated 2046 GMT (0446 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ Granderson: For all the talk of change, 2016 may be another Bush-Clinton race
  • Bush name carries negatives; so toxic that McCain and Romney avoided it, he says
  • LZ: It's not fair to judge Jeb Bush by the actions of George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush
  • He says we should examine the potential candidates on their merits, not family names

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs

(CNN) -- For all of our post-2012 election talk about the changing culture, the changing demographics and, perhaps, a changing party, preliminary thoughts out of D.C. about the 2016 election have us headed toward not much change at all: Clinton vs Bush ... again.

I am as intrigued by the prospects of these two juggernauts, Jeb and Hillary, locking ideological horns as I am repulsed by the thought of half of my life being dominated by two family names. One, Clinton, has risen from the ashes after the White House. The other name, Bush, is so toxic that the past two Republican nominees avoided saying it in public, opting instead to skip their combined 12 years in office and head straight back to Reagan.

Face it, Hillary has baggage, but Jeb has Bush, and that, moreso than his record as governor of Florida or ideas for the future, will determine, at least at the beginning, how he is received. That explains why more than a few conservatives were not thrilled to hear that he was thinking of running.

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

Is it fair for a 59-year-old man to be judged by the actions, or inaction, of his father and brother?

Of course not.

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And we certainly wouldn't judge Hillary solely based on our opinion of Bill.

Yet, as we know, politics is a lot of things but fair is not one of them.

I can already see some super PAC funded by -- oh, that's right, they don't have to tell us -- creating ads morphing George H.W. Bush into George W. Bush and then Jeb Bush, with a Michael Moore voiceover saying, "same name, same failed policies."

Politics: Jeb Bush Jr. hopes dad will run for president

Bush: GOP 'acting stupid' about Latinos
Hillary Clinton saying 'no' to 2016 run

That would be great for Clinton, or whoever eventually claims the Democratic nomination, but not necessarily good for the country. It's not a good thing for the country when voters are robbed of the opportunity to hear smart ideas for superficial reasons.

Like Howard Dean's infamous yelp or Jon Huntsman's quiet demeanor.

And in my book, discounting the idea of a candidate because of his brother's shortcomings is superficial. If someone doesn't like Jeb Bush, let it be because of the record of Jeb, not because of the record of everyone in the White House named Bush.

There are things I like about Jeb and things I don't, but both are based upon what he has done. And if we want an election based upon substance instead of that GOP primary circus we had in 2011, that is how we need to judge both Clinton and Bush. Assuming, of course, it is Clinton and Bush. The speculation is here, but the reality is years away, and a lot can happen.

Politics: Behind the scenes of Clinton's "shuttle diplomacy"

Jeb may not find the conservative support he needs because many view him as a RINO (Republican in name only) while Hillary says she's tired. (And I'm sure she is ... tired of not being president.)

We heard a lot of talk about change after this year's election. The biggest change that's needed is a move away from hyperbolic reactions to inconsequential events.

In August 1988, Jeb's father, in a brief meeting with President Reagan, introduced three of his grandchildren to the Gipper this way: "These are Jebby's kids from Florida, the little brown ones."

Call me crazy, but I doubt at any point in Jeb's life would he introduce his children to anyone as "the little brown ones."

This isn't to paint the father as anything scandalous but to make the point that Jeb is his own person, with his own thoughts and own ideas.

Earlier this year, Jeb Bush spoke his own mind, calling the rhetoric during the Republican primary disturbing and saying that his party was behaving stupidly with regard to Latino voters. I don't recall his brother or dad being that bold in criticizing his own party.

Jeb deserves to be credited, or discredited, on his own merit, not on the record of the men who served as president before him.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

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