Monday, May 11, 2015


The conventional wisdom is that Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are the two leading "moderate," "mainstream" presidential aspirants on the Republican side. Of course, "moderate" Jeb has now passed on the opportunity to repudiate his brother's war in Iraq:
Fox News' Megyn Kelly asked [Jeb] Bush a straightforward, concise question: "Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?" Bush's answer was an unhesitating yes.

"I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody," Bush said, "and so would have almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got."

"You don't think it was a mistake?" asked Kelly.

"In retrospect, the intelligence that everybody saw, that the world saw, not just the United States, was faulty," Bush answered.
There's a case to be made that Jeb wasn't really answering the question Kelly asked him, as Mediaite's Evan McMurry wrote yesterday (emoticon in original):
To be clear, there appears to be some confusion between Kelly’s question and Bush’s answer. Kelly asked Bush whether, knowing what he knows now, he would still invade, whereas Bush appears to answer according to the available intelligence in 2003, which was wrong but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
But Bush refused to question the decision to invade -- and as Byron York notes, that puts him somewhat to the right of the GOP's last presidential nominee:
In 2011, [Mitt] Romney said: "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."
So what about the other Florida-based, allegedly respectable, allegedly non-crazy GOP presidential wannabe? Well, I think Marco Rubio generally avoids talking about the Iraq War -- as far back as 2012, he gave what was billed as a major foreign policy speech at the Brookings Institution and didn't mention Iraq once -- but there have been hints of his view. In a 2010 debate during his Senate campaign, there was this exchange:
MODERATOR: Mr. Rubio, is America safer and better off for having gone to war in Iraq?

RUBIO: I think ultimately, yes. First of all, the world is better off because Saddam Hussein is no longer in charge. He is no longer in charge of that country. Let’s understand one thing. Right now we’re worrying about Iran possessing a nuclear weapon. If Saddam Hussein was still there you’d have a full-blown arms war the way you’ve seen between Pakistan and India. So the world is a safer place not to mention the Iraqi people are better off than they were under Saddam Hussein. [...]
There's also the speech he gave in London in December 2013 in which he referred to the Iraq War as one of the "vitally important achievements" of the alliance between the U.S. and Britain.

And, backtracking to 2012, let's not forget that his words about George W. Bush were almost as kind as Jeb's are now:
George W. Bush, in my opinion, did a fantastic job as president over eight years, facing a set of circumstances during those eight years that are different from the circumstances that a President Romney would face.
All of which makes me hope that someone will ask Marco Rubio precisely the same question Jeb was asked: Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion? Rubio might be shrewd enough to evade the question, but if he answers it, my guess is that is answer will be a lot like Jeb's.


Victor said...

As with my comment on this morning's post, Jeb needs to prove he's not a RINO, and show his conservative bona fides.

And, on top of Christian victimhood, the base demands some good old fashioned saber-rattling!!!

Grung_e_Gene said...

The Iraq War was a resounding success until Obummer got into the White House and wrecked the NeoCons Triumph!