Now that it looks like Donald Trump is going to cause a lot of collateral damage this fall, down-ballot Republicans are running for cover. But there is apparently very little cover to be found, since their last, best hope is George W. Bush, who left office in 2009 as one of the least popular presidents in recent American history. He was so unpopular, in fact, that he more or less retreated from public life altogether to focus on painting pictures of his feet in the shower. According to a New York Times report, Bush is now “an unlikely savior” for vulnerable Republicans and will be helping them raise money for what could be a very difficult election.
Of course, Bush is viewed much more favorably now than in 2009. A year ago, he had higher favorability ratings than President Obama and Hillary Clinton. (A year ago, this was seen as being a good sign for Jeb Bush’s presidential prospects.) He is also an avatar for a simpler and less fractious Republican politics. According to the Times, he’s trying to shore up an anti-Trump bloc in case the demagogue is elected president:
Friends say that the former president is deeply bothered by Mr. Trump’s campaign message, especially his derogatory remarks about Muslims and immigrants. At the event with Mr. McCain, Mr. Bush stressed the importance of preserving the Republican-held Senate as a “check and balance” on the White House, suggesting that such a check was needed, whether the next president is Mr. Trump or Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee.
But it remains to be seen whether voters will buy the argument that Republicans, of all people, can be trusted to act as a check on Trump.