Jeb Bush was asked by FOX host Megyn Kelly whether, “knowing what we know now,” would he have authorized the war in Iraq? It was a softball question to which Bush could have easily answered, “Of course not, because we now know that the intelligence which indicated that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction was inaccurate”. (He wouldn’t have even had to mention that Cheney and Rumsfeld were spinning what intelligence they did in order to convince their fellow Americans that invading Iraq was a good idea.)
Instead Jeb answered a slightly different question, “I would have (authorized the invasion), and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody. And so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got.” Wow, Jeb turned what could have been a politically safe neutral answer into a miniature political firestorm, by indorsing what was probably the worst decision of his bother George’s Presidency. Why in the heck would he do that? Even hard core Republicans now think that going to war for the second time with Iraq was a huge mistake.
The only answer I can come up is that Jeb had pressing need to defend his brother’s decision. Of course, it’s not surprising that he feels that way. Aside from brotherly loyalty, Jeb’s foreign policy advisers are many of the same people who advised George W. when he was in the White House. So much for Jeb’s strategy of putting some daylight between himself and his father and his not so popular older brother.
What it really comes down to is that for John Ellis “Jeb” Bush. his family, specifically his father and older brother, are both his greatest assets and his greatest liabilities. With President George H. W. Bush as their father, George W. and Jeb enjoyed instant name recognition when they branched out into politics and they inherited their father’s relationships with some of the savviest political operators in the country. It is almost impossible to believe that George W. would have become Governor of Texas and Jeb Governor of Florida had their father stayed in oil business and never became President of the United States.
However, nether the older or the younger George Bush will ever be mentioned among our most successful Presidents. George H. W. Bush, who had favorability ratings in the high eighty percent range after Operation Desert Storm, lost his bid for reelection to upstart Bill Clinton after the economy tanked in the last year of Bush’s Presidency. Brother George not only made the disastrous decision to invade Iraq which cost our nations thousands of military dead and many billion of dollars in wasted taxpayer cash, but he also left the country in the worst economic condition since the great depression. This has caused more than a few believe that Barbara Bush was right when she famously said when asked if Jeb should run for President, “There have been enough Bushes in the White House”.
Jeb Bush might be able to raise piles of cash for his campaign and he is certainly among the top choices of big business Republicans. However, his stances on some of the issues such as immigration and common core educational standards have not exactly delighted the far right Tea Party Republicans who are big factors in choosing the Republican nominee for President. If in addition he continues to try to defend his brother’s Presidency, Jeb won’t have a shot at capturing the Republican nomination. The Bush name certainly helped make him a viable candidate, but it won’t catapult him into the Republican nomination or from there into the Presidency.