Steve Benen gets our nod for the Point of the Day:
When Republicans aren’t blaming intelligence agencies for what transpired in 2003, they’re blaming President Obama – the one who was right about Iraq from the start – for the war they apparently find tough to defend.
Reality paints a very different picture. Bush/Cheney lied the nation into a disastrous war, mismanaged it in every way possible, strengthened U.S. foes, and destabilized the entire region. All of this transpired, of course, before Obama even launched his national campaign. Indeed, the catastrophe began unfolding when Obama was still a state senator.
The crux of the bizarre talking point is that the Democratic president withdrew U.S. forces in Iraq, consistent with the Status of Forces Agreement reached between the two countries. And which bleeding-heart pacifist thought it’d be a good idea to endorse this withdrawal plan? That would be George W. Bush, who negotiated the SOFA in 2008.
But there’s no reason to accept the premise – the Status of Forces Agreement was not responsible for creating a disaster in Iraq. Invading the country in the first place created a disaster in Iraq.
We might also take a moment to note a point about sources; Mr. Benen might be an msnbc producer and blogger, but set that aside for a moment and tell me he’s wrong.
This Republican malady presents a genuine problem; that is to say, we do not expect Jeb Bush actually intended to blame his brother; this is all part of the talking point about incompetence by which Republicans try to blame Barack Obama for decisions made by President George W. Bush. As we learned from Michael Barbaro of The New York Times last week:
Then Ms. Ziedrich asked: “Why are you saying that ISIS was created by us not having a presence in the Middle East when it’s pointless wars where we send young American men to die for the idea of American exceptionalism? Why are you spouting nationalist rhetoric to get us involved in more wars?”
Mr. Bush replied: “We respectfully disagree. We have a disagreement. When we left Iraq, security had been arranged, Al Qaeda had been taken out. There was a fragile system that could have been brought up to eliminate the sectarian violence.”
He added: “And we had an agreement that the president could have signed that would have kept 10,000 troops, less than we have in Korea, could have created the stability that would have allowed for Iraq to progress. The result was the opposite occurred. Immediately, that void was filled.”
He concluded: “Look, you can rewrite history all you want. But the simple fact is that we are in a much more unstable place because America pulled back.”
Did you catch the sleight, there?
How he pointed to a Status of Forces Agreement forged by George W. Bush in order to blame Barack Obama?
This is the catch: It is unclear whether Jeb knows he is actually blaming his brother.
You know, the same brother he considers his foremost advisor on Israel and Middle East affairs?
All in all, we might wonder at the optics of “respectfully” imposing an agreement to disagree while, quite technically, trying to lie. Then again, he’s Jeb Bush, and we’re talking about the American political discourse. Such subtleties can wait for a more thoughtful and therefore opportune age. For now, it is enough to wrap our heads around the fact that this is our political discourse.
Image note: President Bush declares the end of major combat in Iraq as he speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast, in this May 1, 2003 file photo. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Benen, Steve. “Put Iraq blame where it’s due”. msnbc. 20 May 2015.
Barbaro, Michael. “College Student to Jeb Bush: ‘Your Brother Created ISIS'”. First Draft. 13 May 2015.