Last night, in the Fox News cocoon, Jeb Bush tied his own shoelaces together and fell flat on his face.
In a ham-handed attempt to defend his brother’s Iraq disaster, Jeb said something so stupefying that even GOP-friendly pundits are aghast. Byron York calls Jeb’s stance “a major step backward for the Republican party,” and warns that if Jeb gets nomination, “the issue will dog him into the general election campaign.”
Jeb said – I kid you not! – that he still thinks his bro’s preemptive invasion of Iraq was a good idea. And he insists – despite all empirical evidence to the contrary – that Hillary Clinton feels the same way.
Megyn Kelly asked him a simple question, succinctly framed: “Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?”
I’ve emphasized those first five words, because what we know now, of course, is that there were no WMDs, and that the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-neocon march to war was one of the most shameless cons in American history.
And yet, even knowing in hindsight that there was no WMD rationale, and therefore no imminent threat to the homeland, Jeb nevertheless replied: “I would have – and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody. And so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got.”
We may have to start calling this guy Slick Jebbie, because there’s all kinds of slickery in that response. If he wants to act as his brother’s keeper, if he wants to double down on Iraq, fine. But it’s a blatant lie to say that Hillary would join him in this folly, that Hillary still believes we should’ve invaded Iraq, even knowing what she knows today.
Jeb apparently doesn’t know what Hillary wrote in her 2014 memoir: “Many senators came to wish they had voted against the (war) resolution. I was one of them. As the war dragged on, with every letter I sent to a family in New York who had lost a son or daughter, a father or mother, my mistake became more painful. I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had. And I wasn’t alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple.”
In fact, Jeb doesn’t even know what Hillary said on the stump in 2007 about W’s war resolution (the italics are mine): “If we knew then what we know now, I would never have voted to give this president the authority.”
So if Jeb wants to bond with his bro on the war, he should leave Hillary out of it – because his view of what she would do is eight years out of date.
(By the way, Megyn Kelly tried to make excuses for Jeb after the Fox interview. She said that he may not have heard, or understood, the what we know now part of her question. If true, that means he’s either semi-deaf or slow on the uptake.)
Even worse, Jeb’s pro-war stance is wildly out of sync with the mainstream. In a ’14 national poll , just 18 percent of Americans (and a mere 27 percent of Republicans) said that the Iraq war had been “worth the loss of American lives and other costs.” At this point, the only people who stand with Jeb on the war are neocons, Cheney, and clueless trolls. If Jeb sticks with what he said on Fox News, Hillary would slice him up in the debates.
Heck, Jeb’s support for a no-WMD invasion of Iraq is so far to the right, it flatly contradicts what Mitt Romney said during the ’12 Republican primary season: “Well, if we knew at the time of our entry into Iraq that there were no weapons of mass destruction – if somehow we had been given that information, why, obviously we would not have gone in.”
Even Jeb’s brother realizes that his tenure was soiled by his failure to find WMDs. In W’s memoir, he called that failure “a massive blow to our credibility – my credibility – that would shake the confidence of the American people. I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do.”
Yet there was Jeb last night, still insisting, even with hindsight, that W’s invasion was wise. Sibling loyalty is adorable, but not when it gets people killed. Jeb needs to “evolve” on Iraq, for his own sake, lest he leave voters with the sickening feeling that a new Bush team would be more of the same.