You should avoid reading this unless you’ve seen seasons one through five of Game of Thrones.
It’s obvious. I know. It’s cheap and easy. It’s the cheapest joke this blog has ever made. It’s so obvious that when you google “Jeb Bush Stannis Baratheon,” the first thing you see are articles like this and this and this and each of them even apologize for how cheap and obvious this joke is.
But here’s the thing: Jeb Bush is becoming Stannis Baratheon, and it’s looking to be painfully accurate. In two distinct ways.
He can’t decide whether to embrace or disown his family legacy.
Sure, his blood and his name are the reason Stannis deserves the throne. Same goes for Bush.
But Stannis evades his legacy while needing it. He corrupts his family sigil from a stag to a stag-on-fire. He also looks upon his deceased drunken older brother with disgust and kills his younger brother. Bush, meanwhile, can’t decide what to do about his family’s legacy, saying things such as I’m my own man.
Interestingly, both Stannis and Jeb specifically take issue with how they would approach things differently than their elder brothers. Jeb says his brother “could have brought budget discipline to Washington D.C.” King Robert was known for his spending, drinking, and whoring, qualities that Stannis doesn’t share.
Of course, they do differ in one crucial way. Stannis clarifies: “I don’t know that we ought to call Robert my beloved brother either. He loved me no more than he had to, nor I him.” Jeb, meanwhile, says: “I love my brother, and people are just going to have to get over that.”
His enemies are bringing him to new lows.
Stannis is the man who supposedly has two things: a birthright and a sense of honor. But as the War of Five Kings and its aftermath escalates, Stannis’s honor is displaced by his desperation. He burns people alive, including friends, family, and a few enemies. He alienates the good people close to him. He kills his younger brother and only daughter.
This is the place where Jeb appears to be, tragically, resembling Stannis more and more. Not that we are anticipating fratricide or that Marco Rubio will be burned at the stake a la Mance Rayder. But Jeb is stumbling and taking tactics that one would have expected to be too lowbrow, including using the words “anchor baby” and making statements like “I think we need to take a step back and chill out a little bit as it relates to the political correctness,” which sounds like he is just paraphrasing something he heard Trump say earlier in the day. It sounds as if this is not a one-off moment, but the first sign of a new strategy to match Trump with punches and obnoxiousness.
In their article about this same topic, Politico refers to Jeb and Stannis sharing a “level-headed predictability.” Breaking away from that is what destroyed Stannis, which is something that Politico does not acknowledge in their brief mention of the similarities between Jeb and Stannis. Will the same thing destroy Bush?
Will he become Stannis?
The verdict is still out. Jeb might be switching tactics and getting dirtier, but it’s hard to say if that is going to be the reason he wins or the reason he falls. As of now, just like with Stannis Baratheon up until the final episodes of this last season, it seems too soon to tell if he’s the Future King or another pretender.
I enjoyed considering this comparison very much, especially because I like Game of Thrones more than politics. Where the characters differ most is the level of ambition. In Stannis, that leads more and more to acts of cruelty. Jeb’s more of a kinder, gentler Bushratheon, and a poorer strategist in the military sense.
Thank you! And Bushratheon – nice one there, wish I would’ve included that. That’s interesting to see ambition as being the defining difference. Jeb definitely seems to have a worse grasp on strategy than Stannis.