As noted, the husband and I were out with friends last evening so we missed the Republican presidential candidate "debate." Perhaps the most delicious moment in the free for all was when Donald Trump accurately assailed George W. Bush for not preventing 9-11, lying the nation into the Iraq War disaster, and not following through to eliminate Osama Bin Laden. It truly must have been a spectacle. A piece in Politico looks at the train wreck which must have left Democrats grinning. Here are highlights:
It was weird that an angry Code Pink-style protester interrupted last night’s Republican presidential debate with a barrage of familiar Democratic talking points about George W. Bush—that he lied the country into a disastrous war in Iraq, failed to prevent the September 11 attacks, and even whiffed on an opportunity to kill Osama bin Laden. It was especially weird that the protestor was one Donald J. Trump, who happens to be the front-runner for the Republican nomination.Trump didn’t just call the Iraq war a mistake. He called it “a big fat mistake.” And he didn't call it an inadvertent mistake because of faulty intelligence. “They lied!” he thundered. “They said there were weapons of mass destruction … and they knew there were none.” Trump even groused that the war cost $5 trillion that could have helped rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, a common Democratic attack line that sounded like a canine talking point at a feline convention, especially in military-heavy South Carolina.Trump’s extended Bush-lied-people-died diatribe, featuring repeated scoffing at Republican Bush-kept-us-safe dogma, was the most surreal stretch of a debate that generally could have been scripted by Salvador Dali.
Trump boasted about his opposition to the Iraq war early in the debate, claiming that he warned at the time that it would destabilize the Middle East—a claim for which there is no evidence—but his real blast into the past began, as his blasts so often do, as a non-sequitur attack on Jeb Bush, who had just made some points about Russia. “Jeb is so wrong,” Trump scoffed. “If you listen to him, that’s why we’ve been in the Middle East for 15 years, and we haven’t won anything.”[M]oderator John Dickerson asked Trump about an old quote where he had suggested that President Bush should have been impeached over Iraq, which gave Trump another excuse to carpet-bomb the Bush family.“Obviously, the war in Iraq was a big, fat mistake, all right?” he said. “It took Jeb Bush, if you remember when he announced for president, it took him five days—it was a mistake, it wasn’t a mistake, it took him five days before his people told him what to say, and he ultimately said it was a mistake. … Obviously, it was a mistake. George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty.”When Dickerson asked Trump again whether the president should have been impeached, Jeb tried to interrupt—“I think it’s my turn, isn’t it?”—but Trump steamrolled ahead. “You call it whatever they want,” he said. “They lied.”Trump barreled back into the fray: “The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign, remember that,” he said. “That’s not keeping us safe.” That sounded more like a canine talking point at a fire hydrant convention, pure heresy in a Republican context.
When Trump went back on the warpath, again noting that the 9/11 attacks happened on Bush’s watch—“That is not safe, Marco. That is not safe.”—Rubio went back to the Republican playbook, blaming Bush’s predecessor for the attacks.“The World Trade Center came down because Bill Clinton didn’t kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance,” Rubio said.Trump didn’t let that pass, either, raising bin Laden’s escape at Tora Bora during the Bush administration. “By the way, George Bush had the chance, also, and he didn’t listen to the advice of his CIA,” Trump said to a chorus of boos. At this point in the metaphor, the canine was basically biting the audience of whatever convention he was addressing, and probably chewing on the furniture, too.[O]verall, the night was a Democratic dream, with the Republicans not only pushing each other to the right on issues like abortion, gay rights, immigration and foreign affairs, but ripping each other to shreds. While Jeb and the audience focused their ire on Trump, Rubio and Trump both called Ted Cruz a liar. “This guy will say anything,” Trump said.
“We’re fixing to lose the election to Hillary Clinton if we don’t stop this,” Kasich said last night. So far, nobody has figured out how to stop the guy who will say anything.