After writing a couple of pieces about Jeb Bush trying to answer such an easy, basic, totally expected question -- "Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion [into Iraq]? -- I figured that was it. But since Jeb Bush continued to screw around with how to answer this gimme putt, it just keeps getting worse. Because after having called up a radio show to explain that he had misinterpreted the "hypothetical" question (yet didn't say what his new answer now was...), he then went to a speaking engagement and told a questioner in an audience that he now wouldn’t even answer such a hypothetical question since it would be disrespectful to the troops.
Sigh. Okay, so that means we have to put our hazmat suit back on and dive again into the detritus sucked deep into a Black Hole.
For starters, he’s wrong. It wouldn’t be remotely disrespectful if his answer was, as he first said, “I would have” still invaded Iraq. So, perhaps he’s suggesting that his answer is, in fact, no. But the reality is that even that isn’t disrespectful to the troops. It’s just hypothetical. What is disrespectful is having actually sent troops to a war where they never should have been sent, that was based on a lie.
Yet it gets even worse! (No, really.) Because later, Jeb Bush actually, finally answered the hypothetical question he said was disrespectful to answer. Annoyed, too, at having to deign answering hypothetical questions. And he said, knowing what we know now – no, he wouldn’t have invaded Iraq. But…but…it gets worse still. (No, really, honest.) Because he immediately followed that by saying – it was still a good idea because it got rid of Saddam Hussein and made the world safer. So…well, that sounds like a “yes.”
Mind you, he didn’t say how it made the world safer, other than getting rid of Saddam Hussein. But since Iraq was destabilized, never formed a substantive government, was weakened as a deterrent against Iran and opened the door for the creation of ISIS, it’s really not quite clear what on earth Jeb Bush means, or if he even knows what he means.
(Side note: While Mr. Bush has been disparaging about this being a hypothetical question, it’s worth noting that pretty much every question he has gotten and will get about what he’d do “if” he became president…is hypothetical.)
Honestly, I don’t dislike Jeb Bush. I think he’s one of the more thoughtful candidates the Republican Party currently has. (Which should tell you something about the candidates that the party currently has.) But he has no foreign policy experience, and he’s been out of politics for eight years. Indeed, if you looked at his job qualifications to be President, leading the list is “Father was a President. Brother was a President.” But by that standard, I should be up for consideration by the AMA for my medical license. Next on the list of qualifications is, “Was governor of Florida,” one of the most dysfunctional states in the union.
It was a bad weak for Jeb Bush. And no, that is not a typo.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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