GOP Iraq Battle Shines New Spotlight on Jeb Bush Weakness

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 18, 2016 | Go to article overview

GOP Iraq Battle Shines New Spotlight on Jeb Bush Weakness


Byline: Byron York

It's entirely reasonable to say the war in Iraq was a disaster. Maybe you disagree, or maybe you think that's too harsh, but it's an arguable proposition. To Jeb Bush, though, it's an attack on his family, and therefore out of bounds.

When Donald Trump attacked the war as a "big fat mistake" during the recent debate in South Carolina, and went on to say that "they" -- the George W. Bush administration -- lied about weapons of mass destruction, Jeb took it personally.

"I am sick and tired of him going after my family," Bush said as Trump stood nearby.

The Iraq War affected a lot of Americans. More than 1 million U.S. military men and women served in Iraq after the 2003 invasion. A total of 4,495 died, while 32,223 were wounded. Their families were affected. Their communities were affected. And, of course, all Americans have an interest in a war's success and the furtherance of U.S. national interest.

In other words, the effects of the Iraq War extend far beyond the confines of the Bush family. But Jeb Bush, in public at least, takes an attack on the war as an attack on his mom and his dad and his brother. When Trump struck, here is what Bush said in response:

"I am sick and tired of him going after my family. My dad is the greatest man alive, in my mind. And while Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe. And I'm proud of what he did. And (Trump) has had the gall to go after my mother. Look, I won the lottery when I was born 63 years ago, looked up, and I saw my mom. My mom is the strongest woman I know."

Some of that is simply non sequitur -- one man says the war was a mistake, and the other answers that his mother is a great woman. But Bush's words, more than anything, showed that he is unable to separate momentous national events, or at least this particular momentous national event, from his own familial bonds.

A few seconds later, Marco Rubio, whose father and brother were not president of the United States, gave a more concise and focused defense of the George W. Bush administration than Jeb did.

And the next day, Jeb did it again. His campaign sent out an email headlined "Donald crossed a line." Did he mean Trump had wrongly attacked the war? No, he meant Trump had attacked his family:

"Friend -- Last night, Donald Trump came after my family yet again. But I told him I was sick and tired of it, and put him in his place.

"But even I was surprised to hear him attack my brother, George W. Bush, over 9/11.

"Donald showed once more he cannot be the Republican Party's nominee. …

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