Donald Trump told some honest truths, and the Republican Party finally closed ranks to attack him for it.
Trump said George W. Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction. “They lied,” Trump truthfully said. “They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none, and they knew there were none.”
Trump said that invading Iraq was a mistake, that the country was lied into invading Iraq by the Bush administration, and that the claim that Bush kept the country safe from terrorism is ridiculous because 9/11 happened on his watch. We cannot, of course, forget about the terrorist anthrax attacks that terrorized the nation for months after 9-11, and which directly led to the passage of Homeland Security, which is why so many people think the government was behind both 9-11 and the anthrax attacks.
It was a bizarre and telling moment, in which the battered forces of the Republican establishment finally picked themselves up off the floor specifically in order to defend some of its least-defensible conduct of the 21st Century.
Trump lit into George W. Bush on national security.
“While Donald Trump was building a reality TV show,” Jeb Bush retorted, “my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe. And I’m proud of what he did.”
Then Trump cut in with his uppercut: “The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign. Remember that?”
A chorus of boos echoed forth from the crowd packed with establishment Republicans by the state party. Even better for Bush, Marco “I am a programmed robot” Rubio backed him up with lies.
“I just want to say, at least on behalf of me and my family, I thank God all the time it was George W. Bush in the white house on 9/11, and not Al Gore.” According to Rubio, the president to blame for 9/11 was not the president who was in office on 9/11, it was the guy who left office nine months earlier. “The World Trade Center came down because Bill Clinton didn’t kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance to kill him.”
The audience loved this, and were mightily displeased when Trump observed: “George Bush had the chance, also, and he didn’t listen to the advice of his C.I.A.”
The strange thing is that after months of watching Trump say things that are racist, absurd, patently false, or all three at once, the Republican Party establishment decided to go after him for saying honest things.
George W. Bush clearly was in office on 9/11. Repeated invocations of the notion that he “kept us safe” have managed to make this a controversial claim, but it is true. He was inaugurated in January, and was serving as president on the morning of 9/11 when the terrorist attack momentarily interrupted his reading of My Pet Goat. For months Bush had received repeated warnings about al-Qaeda plots against the United States, and refused to meet with Richard Clarke, his counter terrorism chief, who sent him warning after warning. In addition, Bush received warnings throughout the spring and summer of 2001 during each one of his daily presidential briefings. He decided to ignore them, which is another one of the reasons why tens of millions of Americans think 9-11 was an inside job. Nobody could be that stupid, corrupt or careless with national security. Well, okay, maybe George W. Bush could’ve been.
Bush was given a plan to tackle al-Qaeda and the Taliban that he rejected as a holdover from the Clinton administration and a distraction from bigger problems, like improving his golf swing.
On September 6, 2001, an aide handed Bush a CIA report titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in United States.” What did he do with it? He likely never read it. National security was that important to him.
“By Trump standards — this is a man, after all, who claims he can make Mexico pay for the construction of thousands of miles of border wall — these arguments are tame. Indeed, almost banal. For months now, Republicans have wondered how Trump could be winning by claiming up was down. But this was exactly how they won in their mid-aughts heyday — slamming decorated war hero John Kerry for cowardice, claiming to have kept the country safe while presiding over the worst attack in American history, and responding by invading an unrelated country in order to dismantle a nuclear weapons program that didn’t exist.”
Love him or hate him, Trump has been waging an absolutely brilliant campaign to attract Republican voters, many of whom are tired of the Wall Street/Big Oil Republican Party establishment as much as Democratic voters are disgusted with the Wall Street Democratic Party establishment. After the debate, Bush’s poll numbers in South Carolina dropped to as low as 6 percent, while Trump’s numbers stayed the same in a few cases, but in others, they went up.
Bush was considered a threat to Trump in South Carolina, but that appears to be unlikely now that Trump has tarnished the Bush name with honest criticism.