Tag Archives: Jeb Bush

‘I can defend the invasion of Iraq’

Ryan Lizza’s essential story on the calamity of Jeb Bush’s foreign policy includes cameos by many members of the Legion of Doom: Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Porter Goss, Stephen Hadley. Another nasty piece of work, Otto Reich, makes an appearance. Reich, I’m sorry to say, is a Cuban American whose most notorious sting was as the head of the excellently named Office of Public Diplomacy, charged with persuading the media to publish lies about the extent of Soviet involvement in Central America. Among the pearls: Soviets had MiGs in Nicaragua; that Nicaragua had chemical weapons; that American reporters, gay and straight, received sexual favors from Sandinista prostitutes.

Here is in 2015:

“I can defend the invasion of Iraq,” Reich told me. “What did the invasion of Iraq do? It caused all of the people who would’ve otherwise come and attacked us and killed Americans on our soil—it caused them to go to Iraq and die there. That may sound very brutal, or whatever, but we have seen what has happened when you have an Administration like the current one, that did not realize what Bush had done; sent the troops home from Iraq; created a vacuum that was filled by ISIS. And they’re killing Americans and everyone else—they’re mostly killing Muslims. I lay that at the feet of the Obama Administration.”

He added, “All Republicans say what I just did . . . but it’s not reported. Nobody listens. It goes against conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom is that Bush was a failure in foreign policy, because of Iraq. Well, history is beginning to tell a different story.”

One truth bleeds out of this human pustule. I have no doubt that the GOP believes “Iraq,” whatever this term means in 2015, is a success, or was at least salvageable had it not been for the perfidy of Obama and the Democrats cutting a surge that the Maliki government had no intention of supporting.

Now Reich’s new client has fictions of his own to peddle:

He has called for a no-fly zone over Syria that would help a Sunni-led army fight a two-front war against Assad and ISIS, but it’s unclear who would make up the forces. He told reporters that American airpower in Syria is “restricted by lawyers kind of imposing all sorts of conditions.” He would change the rules, he said, so “that it would be there to fight to win.” He didn’t specify which rules he would lift, but, as Graham noted, almost every military expert dismisses the idea that airpower alone can defeat ISIS…

To fight ISIS in Iraq, Bush made the familiar argument that America should arm the Kurds and “embed with the Iraqi military,” both of which Obama is effectively doing. When asked whether he would send more troops, Bush said that the U.S. already has thirty-five hundred troops in Iraq and that the real issue was how to better integrate them into Iraqi forces. Pressed further, he conceded, in a roundabout way, that he would be willing to send more American troops back to Iraq.

There it is. Send troops back to Iraq. Bush is so stupid that he thinks that he can restore American prestige by returning troops to the battlefield responsible for the biggest moral calamity in American foreign affairs since Vietnam.

GOP extremism: most fundamental campaign issue

I quote Charles Pierce so often because he’s one of the few columnists with a historical sense to match his prose. Often the historical sense is the saucer on which the tea cup of his prose cools (he steeps his sentences in Mencken and Thompson). I’d think, as he argues, that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz would be hanging this ignominious history round every candidate’s neck:

It is all one long, continuous plague of Republican extremism that began quietly when the party moved west and south in its orientation, and when Richard Nixon discovered that George Wallace was onto something that could be immensely useful to a shrewd and brilliant code-talker like Nixon himself. Things began to alarm people in the late 1970’s, when the vicious NCPAC campaigns cleared the Senate of the likes of Frank Church and George McGovern, and when Ronald Reagan was installed in the White House. But it did not break into truly virulent, systemic frenzy until Bill Clinton got elected in 1992. This led to the rise of Newt Gingrich, and the original pack of vandals he herded into the House in 1994, the guys who are now treated like wise old moderate heads, the guys who have dismally rated morning chat shows that are mistaken for being influential by desperate shut-ins and by lonely insomniac congressional aides. This led to fake investigation after fake investigation until, finally, the House went completely over the falls and impeached a sitting president for the second time in history. Remarkably, this singular event has so disappeared down the memory hole that, at the 2000 Republican National Convention, nobody even mentioned what had been touted as a triumph for the rule of law…

…Republican extremism should have been the most fundamental campaign issue for every Democratic candidate for every elected office since about 1991. Every silly thing said by Michele Bachmann, say, or Louie Gohmert should have been hung around the neck of Republican politicians until they choked themselves denying it. (I once spoke to a Democratic candidate who was running against Bachmann who said to me, “Well, I’m not going to call her crazy.” She lost badly.) The mockery and ridicule should have been loud and relentless. It was the only way to break both the grip of the prion disease, and break through the solid bubble of disinformation, anti-facts, and utter bullshit that has sustained the Republican base over the past 25 years. Instead, and it’s hard to fault them entirely for their sense of responsibility, the Democrats chose largely to ignore the dance of the madmen at center stage and fulfill some sense of obligation to the country.

Because Democrats are the straight men to the GOP comedians, he argues, they’re stuck defending policies, and this is hell on their boxing skills; no wonder Alan Grayson makes them nervous. Grayson should be on every network and cable green room acting as obnoxiously as possible, reminding its audience of sixteen that it’s one party who lets a minority of a minority decide on keeping the Speaker of the House’s chair empty; who wants to shut down the government over a constitutionally legal access to abortions; and whose pursuit of white voters, poor or plutocratic, is doomed because they’re dying and there won’t be a middle class from which to rise, respectively. But when the Democratic donor class looks a lot like the GOPs, the paralysis hits.

‘Roger Ailes’s position as a kingmaker remained secure’

This exchange happened last night, and if you excavate what I wrote last night it’ll come up. Jeb Bush positioned himself as the pro-life candidate. “Pro-life” in 2005, according to Bush, meant saving Terri Schivavo’s life. The full answer:

Kelly: Governor Bush, let’s start with you. Many Republicans have been outraged recently by a series of videos on Planned Parenthood. You now say that you support ending federal funding for this organization. However, until late 2014, right before you started your campaign, you sat on the board of a Bloomberg charity that quite publicly gave tens of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood, while you were a Director. How could you not know about these well-publicized donations [a few boos] and if you did know, how could you help a charity so openly committed to abortion rights?

Bush: I joined the Bloomberg foundation because of Mike Bloomberg’s shared commitment for meaningful education reform. That’s why I was on it. We never had a debate about the budget. It was presented and we approved it. Not item by item. Here’s my record. As governor of the state of Florida, I defunded Planned Parenthood. [applause] I created a culture of life in our state. We were the only state to appropriate money for crisis pregnancy centers. We expanded dramatically the number of adoptions out of our foster care system. We created — we did parental notification laws. We ended partial birth abortion. We did all of this. And we were the first state to do a “choose life” license plate. Now 29 states have done it and tens of millions of dollars have gone to create a culture where more people, more babies are adopted.

Kelly: But did you know?

Bush: [pause] No. I didn’t know. But it doesn’t matter. I was working on this board because of the education. My record is clear. My record as a pro-life governor is not in dispute. I am completely pro-life and I believe that we should have a culture of life, it’s informed by my faith from beginning to end. [big applause]

When did he know? He knew nothing. The “culture of life” means denying felons the right to vote while standing in the way of a vegetable’s felons. Charles Pierce:

This debate served two purposes, and two purposes only. The first was to make money for Fox News, and to reinforce its influence within party. It apparently did that splendidly, thereby ensuring that Roger Ailes’s position as a kingmaker remained secure. The second was to be part of eternal auction of souls demanded by the new age of legalized influence-peddling.

AKA: one down, six to go.

Never forget

I missed this story when Politico published it in January — I tend to avoid what Charles Pierce calls Tiger Beat on the Potomac. For many of us who remember the dark period after the second Bush inaugural, his brother’s meddling in the Terri Schiavo case represented the nadir of movement conservatism. Michael Kruse’s splendid reporting accentuates the gruesomeness of the facts as I remembered them:

Michael Schiavo and the mother of his two kids got letters addressed to their “Illegitimate Bastard Children” talking about how sometimes kids disappear.

Up in Washington, Congress debated the case of Terri Schiavo, searching for possible methods of federal intervention—with Frist and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, both of whom now say they don’t want to talk about it, vowing to work together through the weekend of Palm Sunday if necessary. A memo that came from Martinez’s office called it “a great political issue” for Republicans. Frist, a surgeon from Tennessee, said on the Senate floor that Schiavo didn’t seem to him to be in a vegetative state, based on his viewing of the Schindlers’ video snippets. Senator Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania called the removal of the feeding tube “a sentence that would not be placed on the worst criminal.” Majority Leader Tom DeLay led the way in the House. Santorum and Frist did in the Senate. Few members of Congress spoke against it. South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was one. “There is no room for the federal government in this most personal of private angst-ridden family members,” she said. Republican John Warner from Virginia was the only senator to speak against it. Hillary Clinton from New York didn’t. Neither did Barack Obama from Illinois. A bill emerged from the Senate after midnight on March 21 that would let the Schindlers ask the federal courts to take another look at the decision made by the state courts.

And what did the medical examiners learn during the autopsy?

In June, the medical examiner released Terri Schiavo’s autopsy, which confirmed what the judges had ruled for years based on the testimony from doctors concerning her prognosis. Her limbs had atrophied, and her hands had clenched into claws, and her brain had started to disappear. It weighed barely more than a pound and a third, less than half the size it would have been under normal circumstances. “No remaining discernible neurons,” the autopsy said. She couldn’t see. She couldn’t feel, not even pain. Forty-one years after her birth, 15 years after her collapse, Terri Schiavo was literally a shell of who she had been.

So, yeah, please remember this.

The smack of firm government

This guy:

“I don’t think I would have changed anything,” he said in response to a questioner during a “Politics and Eggs” breakfast here Friday. “I stayed within the constitutional responsibilities or authority that I had. We changed the law first and then a year later it was ruled unconstitutional and then basically didn’t have the ability to do anything. The federal government then intervened and that was ruled unconstitutional. So, she starved to death.”

Diagnosed as in a persistent vegetative state, Schiavo, 41, died in April 2005 after a 15-year battle over her husband Michael’s decision to remove her feeding tube. Her parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, fought to keep her alive, a move that prompted Bush, the Florida legislature and Congress to pass laws intervening on their behalf. The legal process stretched from Florida courts to the federal judicial system, but her feeding tube was ultimately ordered removed.

. He has advice:

I think if we’re going to mandate anything from government, it might be that if you’re going to take Medicare that you also sign up for an advanced directive where you talk about this before you’re so disabled that then there’s fights amongst the family. I know for a fact that the Schindlers were more than happy to take over the care of this child. And I supported that.”

Oh, right, an “advanced directive” — death panels. Child. Terry Schiavo was an adult, a woman who like millions — like her husband –lacked the foresight to see the ghoulishness to which government could sink because their papers weren’t in order.

National Review hasn’t mentioned the Schiavo incident. No one else on the right has either in yet another sign of its depravity, although it’s possible that undergirding their suspicion of Bush is incidents like this of robust defiance of the law and order to which they owe fealty.

Hack Writing, Pt. 3412

Count the cliches in this story:

There are other ways the Bush team thinks the Jeb brand could be unique. His father, George H.W. Bush, governed as a ­free-spending, tax-raising, ­foreign-policy pragmatist, while Jeb Bush aims to offer himself as a small-government conservative reformer motivated chiefly by domestic concerns. Where older brother George W. Bush was widely regarded as an incurious and at times inept executive, Jeb Bush believes he might appeal to voters as a competent and detail-oriented leader with wonkish curiosity and a zest for big ideas.

The 41st president presented himself as an patrician patriot and public servant, while the 43rd styled himself as a brush-clearing cowboy with Texas bravado. The Bush who hopes to become the 45th president thinks he can do so by portraying himself as the embodiment of modern America’s cultural melange: a fluent Spanish speaker and Catholic convert who married a Mexican immigrant, made Miami his home and preaches a gospel of inclusion and opportunity.

The operating intelligence of the average political reporter can’t comprehend the mind that can read policy documents, thus “wonk.” Note how the story defines “wonk” — a “detail-oriented” person, a phrase stolen from leadership manuals. Nothing in this excerpt would displease a Bush, not even the ostensibly disparaging remarks about the last Bush president. He’s a Texas maverick, see, full of bravado.

Punditocracy decay, part #1274

Michael Putney, longtime South Florida eminence, demonstrates how covering power turns pundits into vegetables. Check out the Harlequin novel prose:

Some members of the punditocracy wondered if Jeb Bush had lost his campaign chops since he hadn’t run for office in years. The answer is in and it’s obvious. He’s not only got ’em, he used ’em to chew up Mitt Romney.

Jeb’s shrewd, early and preemptive campaign moves drove Mitt to impetuously say he was seriously thinking about running again — third time’s the charm! — and then in the harsh light of day decide that he wouldn’t. It was a very good decision for the GOP and the nominating process. The real Mitt he promised to unleash — the proud Mormon — would have fared no better than the old one.

Note the slang. The masturbatory between-the-dashes use of cliche Putney must have thought an especially deft touch, the lithographer’s master stroke. Well, Michael Schiavo has an answer to the “doctrinaire liberals” twaddle that are the final refuge for hacks like Putney who think Both Sides do it, hence fair play:

Who is Putney referring to as the “doctrinaire liberals” who were horrified by the former governor’s intervention in my family’s trauma? The Republican Attorney General Charlie Crist, who refused to take up the governor’s crusade? Republican Senate President Jim King, who fought Bush on passage of “Terri’s Law?” Pinellas County Judge George Greer, a Republican and Southern Baptist, who looked at the evidence of my wife’s case before having his rulings tossed aside by a governor who never met her?

Schiavo not only got’em, he used’em to chew up Putney:

When his own family came under scrutiny, when his daughter was charged with illegally purchasing Xanax, he pleaded for privacy for his family — privacy that he never considered my family to be worthy of.