Note: This post is not an indication that I support either of the two Republican candidates discussed here (and I have been criticized for not being a fan of Donald Trump). But as a political observer its rather hard not to appreciate the way Trump has manhandled Jeb Bush since Friday.
If I was running for President of the United States against Jeb Bush my strategy would be to get Jeb to talk about his family as much as possible. Even Jeb knows that every time he mentions his last name and associates with his brother he gets tied into the politics of the past. In this election season talking about the past is poison.
Trump started the whole thing with saying 9/11 happened on George W. Bush’s watch. “When you talk about George Bush — I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time,” Trump said Friday.
On Fox News Sunday Trump tripled down on his charge that Bush#43 was semi-responsible for 9/11.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace asked Trump what he would have done differently in response to an earlier suggestion that then-President George W. Bush was partially at fault for the attacks. And Trump insisted he is not blaming the former president for them.
“Jeb [Bush] said ‘We were safe with my brother. We were safe.’ Well, the World Trade Center just went down. Now, am I trying to blame him? I’m not blaming anybody, but the World Trade Center came down, so when he said we were safe, we were not safe. We lost 3,000 people. It was one of the greatest — probably the greatest catastrophe ever in this country,” the Republican presidential hopeful said.
Trump’s charge which he had been repeating all last week was both idiotic and masterful at the same time. Would Trump say that FDR didn’t keep us safe because the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor? Of course not. The attacks happened just nine months into Bush’s presidency. And the 9/11 Commission report blamed the government’s failure to stop the plot on structural intelligence problems that began well before Bush took office.
Therefore Trump’s statements about Bush #43 and 9/11 are just plain idiotic— or are they?
Tale a look at what Jeb said to Jake Tapper on Sunday, which is similar to what he’s been saying ever since Trump started attacking his brother:
My brother responded to a crisis, and he did it as you would hope a president would do. He united the country, he organized our country and he kept us safe. And there’s no denying that. The great majority of Americans believe that,” he said.
“And I don’t know why he keeps bringing this up. It doesn’t show that he’s a serious person as it relates to being commander in chief and being the architect of a foreign policy,” Bush added.
Think about it, instead of talking about his policies Jeb Bush has spent the past three news cycles tying himself to the weakest element of his campaign, his brother. Whether intentional or not (and I don’t doubt that it was planned) Trump masterfully boxed Jeb Bush in, knowing that Jeb wouldn’t ignore the attacks on his brother. Every time Jeb defends his brother for 9/11 he hurts his campaign, and every time he answers Trump, the Donald tightens the screws a little more.
Now Trump is taking it further, he is suggesting his tough immigration stance and building that “beautiful wall” would have stopped 9/11. Of course most of the 9/11 hijackers came into the country on legal visas so Trump is blowing smoke up our rear ends, but with Trump that doesn’t matter. If it was a different candidate Trump’s claim would have elicited laughter, but this is “The Donald.” This is the guy who started his campaign by promising to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and that he’d get Mexico to pay for it. When he trashed John McCain’s war record the pundits (including me) said he was dead. When he insinuated that that Megyn Kelly was menstruating during a GOP debate, it was Kelly who was harassed. Now that he comes out with the ridiculous claim he could have prevented 9/11 no one is laughing (and some might even be saying, “hey maybe”).
Allow me to suggest that Trump doesn’t really believe he could have prevented 9/11, though bombastic the guy is very smart. Trump has made up this nonsense to get Jeb to align himself with his brother over and over. And Jeb Bush showing his political ineptness has fallen for Trumps brilliant bait and is hurting what is left of his dying campaign, little by little.