Jeb Bush must have set some kind of record for political flip-flopping this month.
“Knowing what we know now,” he was asked — that Saddam Hussein didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction, for example — “would you have authorized the invasion” of Iraq?
“I would’ve,” he said.
Almost immediately, the oatmeal hit the fan. Supporters and critics alike jumped up out of the weeds protesting his embrace of what many consider the greatest foreign policy blunder since Hitler invaded the Soviet Union.
Before nightfall that day, he was backing crab-like away from that position. He had “misinterpreted” the question, he said. In any case, it was futile to take up “hypotheticals” like that.
But back he tracked until it seemed as though the former Florida governor would’ve been marching in front of the White House, occupied at the time by his own brother, with a “Hell No! I won’t go” placard.
The kindest interpretation friendly critics offered was that Jeb Bush was reluctant to take issue with George W., who, after all, ordered the Iraq invasion. It was filial affection, not foreign policy naiveté, that informed his first response.
Are you kidding me?
Of course Jeb Bush would have done the same thing as George W. Bush. There’s hardly the thickness of a sheet of paper between them on Middle East policy.
Don’t believe me? The man who would like to lead the third Bush administration in three decades named Paul Wolfowitz, the Iraq invasion’s architect, to his team of advisers. That’s like taking navigation lessons from the captain of the Titanic.
Wolfowitz, you’ll remember, is the guy who promised a speedy end to the Iraq War and predicted it would pay for itself with rising oil revenue. That was a trillion dollars — and many thousands of lives — ago. And we’re still waiting for our first payment.
I’ve always thought Jeb got too much credit for being smarter than his brother. That was largely a function of the fact that even though he smoked a lot of pot in high school, he didn’t spend his youthful years drunk, unlike George W.
In reality, neither of them has shown much in the way of smarts. They’ve gone a long way on family money and friends in high places.
The best of the Bush bunch, to my thinking, is the old man, George H. W. Bush. Not a brilliant intellectual, perhaps, but he was smart enough to know that Iraq’s not a place where you want to hang out very long. As bad a guy as Saddam Hussein was, the elder Bush had the sense not to dabble in regime change when he went to war with Iraq.
Perhaps the most astonishing piece of information to come out of this latest Bush flap was a Quinnipiac University poll that showed George W. Bush’s favorability rating with likely voters in the Iowa caucus stands at 81 percent.
Eighty-one percent! Chocolate ice cream doesn’t have an 81 percent favorability rating among Iowa Republicans.
What can they be thinking of? Certainly they can’t be thinking very seriously about the Iraq invasion. Did I mention that it’s cost us a trillion dollars and counting?
Perhaps I failed to inform you that our conduct of that war and the other conflicts that seem to have unstoppably flowed from it, with our waterboarding and our drone attacks, have squandered any moral advantage that we claimed over our enemies.
Jeb Bush was the great hope of rational Republicans in the upcoming race. He was the sensible one.
Now we find he hopes to ride his brother’s tattered coat tails to victory.
Who’s his model for economic policy, Herbert Hoover?