America. pic.twitter.com/TeduJkwQF3— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) February 16, 2016
In the wake Mr. Bush's Tuesday afternoon tweet, above ... uh, let's just say that nobody's having it. Defintely not gun-control advocates, like the wits at the Daily News, who are winning the internet this morning with their "Dolt .45" cover. But also definitely not the gun-loving conservatives that Mr. Bush meant to court.
It was supposed to be a simple, powerful message: Having received a FNX-45 pistol with his name engraved on it while visiting a Columbia, S.C., gun manufacturer, Mr. Bush -- or, more likely, one of his nitwit campaign staffers who still doesn't understand how social media works -- decided to tweet a photo of it with a one-word caption: "America."
The problem is that Bush previously was the only Republican presidential candidate to not own a firearm. So showing off his new toy this late in the game, and only after a campaign stop at a gun factory, made his level of pandering seem downright grovel-ish.
The other problem is, well, how social media works. Some prime examples:
oh great, Jeb Bush showed us a gun and now according to the rules of drama the Presidential race can't end without it going off— maura quint (@behindyourback) February 16, 2016
Fun fact: Jeb Bush is named after this gun pic.twitter.com/Ygl9fVRPaC— A. History (@AhistoricalPics) February 16, 2016
sadly the gun with Jeb Bush engraved on it is already polling better than he is in South Carolina— Alexandra Petri (@petridishes) February 16, 2016
Jeb Bush's campaign strategy has seriously been reduced to just screaming "GUN!" randomly— Groundhog MGK (@mightygodking) February 16, 2016
Everybody report Jeb Bush to twitter for threatening us with a gun— MonsterKing (@CerromeRussell) February 16, 2016
I think the biggest surprise, for me, about Jeb Bush's gun is that it says "Gov. Jeb Bush" on the barrel and not "point away from face".— Pointless Letters (@pointlesslettrs) February 17, 2016
Jeb Bush pointing his gun at you would be scary for .000001 seconds before you took it and smacked him with it. https://t.co/BtBGVXd8MG— Trim Jesus (@CapricornKing_) February 16, 2016
Jeb bush tweeting a pic of a gun is the political equivalent of saying #masc4masc on Grindr.— Timmy Metzner (@timmymetzner) February 16, 2016
oh ffs, who gave this guy a gun? https://t.co/fdIrzRz1RQ— Jennie Dair Berney (@MrsBerney) February 16, 2016
As Politico's Josh King wrote of Michael Dukakis' notorious standing-in-a-tank photo op from the 1988 presidential campaign trail, this is about a candidate "pretending to be something he wasn't and, in the process, making a fool of himself."
Simon Dumenco, aka Media Guy, is an Ad Age editor-at-large. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.