George W. has been making the rounds on the campaign trail for his brother Jeb!, which allows for ridiculous moments like this:
Bringing W. along for the ride isn’t the best move, but at this point in Jeb’s campaign, he might as well try anything. Having W. show up probably won’t hurt Jeb too much, and may even help him a bit, if George’s favorability ratings really have improved from the dismally low 25% at the end of his second term to the mid-forties they were standing at last year. As ridiculous as it is, I believe it, because I think after eight years of Obama, Republicans think the country has gone so full Islamo-socialist that they’d take even a bozo like W. again if it meant they had to.
Though true to form, Republicans seem to have a certain amnesia about W.’s performance in office. Whether Jeb’s insistence that W. ‘kept us safe’ is working or Trump’s attacks on him aren’t, a Morning Consult poll finds that 57% of Republicans believe that he did indeed keep us safe. Even 50% of Trump’s supporters believe Bush kept us more safe, as opposed to Cruz, Carson, and Rubio supporters, who believe it in greater percentages—67%, 69%, and 76%, respectively.
Which is why Rubio can jump on the bandwagon and redirect blame for 9/11 to Bill Clinton:
“Well, I believe that if Osama bin Laden had been killed, Al Qaeda as an organization would not have grown to the point where it could have conducted 9/11,” Rubio said. “And my argument was, no, the responsibility of 9/11 falls on the fact that Al Qaeda was allowed to grow and prosper and the decision was not made to take out the leader when the chance existed to do so.”
Todd asked him if that meant he was not blaming Clinton for 9/11.
“No, he made a decision not to take out its leader, which I think ended up being there, the situation that happened with 9/11. And as this was a response to an attack, that the reason why 9/11 happened was because of George W. Bush,” Rubio said. “And my argument is, if you’re going to ascribe blame, don’t blame George W. Bush, blame a decision that was made years earlier, not to take out bin Laden when the opportunity presented itself.”
Two things to take away from this. 1) 9/11 can’t be blamed on George W. Bush, even though he was the President. (Remember, only Democratic Presidents can be blamed for things that happen during their terms, and sometimes for things that happened before they even took office!) 2) It isn’t Bill Clinton who’s to blame for 9/11; his decision is to blame, as if Clinton’s decision is something that exists independently of his body. Talk about weasel wording.
It’s moments like these that really make me wonder just what the hell Republicans think actually happened during the two terms Bush was President. I know the right has a penchant for whitewashing and rewriting history, but Bush has been the subject of such revisionism that you’d think he’d slipped the nation a roofie and everyone blacked out for eight years.
Rubio isn’t alone in deflecting blame for 9/11 away from Bush. Lots of people insist Clinton is to blame, because Bush assumed office in 2001 and only had a short time to do anything before September—even though he received memos about imminent attacks. Lots of people say Bush is not responsible for the failure of the Iraq War because Obama pulled out too early and handed everything over to ISIS—even though Obama stuck to the withdrawal timeline drawn up by the Bush administration. Bush and his administration are not responsible for the failure to find WMD—even though it was sold as a reason for invading and the invasion itself was one of the worst foreign policy blunders in US history. Bush has not one iota of responsibility for the tanked economy—even though his foreign policy ventures were enormously expensive. Then there’s also the botched Katrina response, Bush’s commuting of Scooter Libby’s prison sentence, waterboarding at Guantanamo Bay, dropping white phosphorous over Fallujah, the installation of the PATRIOT Act, the Military Commissions Act, and on and on and on.
So if Republicans can somehow explain away every bad thing that happened during Bush’s eight bad years, what do they think actually happened?
Jeb Bush won’t be President, so we don’t have to worry about how people have already forgotten that Lehman Brothers paid Jeb $1.3 million for Florida state pensions merely weeks before the company collapsed and did its part in ushering in the global economic meltdown. But if Republicans are really willing to deny the failure of the Bush administration, and if they’re willing to insist any Democratic malfeasance is on an equal plane with any Republican malfeasance, then who knows how they’ll spin a surely disastrous Cruz, Rubio, or Trump Presidency as time goes on.