Sunday, October 18, 2015

Jeb Didn't Want It To Come To This But His Campaign Is Now An Apologia For His Brother's Reign


When Trump says that Bush (and Cheney) ignored all the flashing red lights that they should have taken as warnings of what was to happen on 9/11, he raises the hackles of Bush-Cheney apologists and touches the rawest of raw nerves. Because, of course, he's 100% correct. Let me go back to a passage from Barton Gellman's absolutely definitive Cheney biography Angler about how they aggressively and vehemently dismissed every serious warning that the American security and intelligence agencies flagged regarding al-Qaeda:
When suicide bombers attacked the USS Cole shortly before the 2000 election, killing seventeen sailors and nearly sinking the Navy destroyer, candidate Cheney said, "Any would-be terrorist out there needs to know that if you're going to attack, you'll be hit very hard and very quick. It's not time for diplomacy and debate. It's time for action." This was an essential point of comparison in the 2000 campaign: the strength and resolve of the Bush-Cheney team in contrast to the ditherings of Clinton and Gore.

At the time, the Cole bombing looked like al Qaeda's doing, but U.S. intelligence lacked proof. Bush and Cheney, on the campaign trail, vowed to retaliate once the perpetrators became clear. Soon after they took office, the facts were in.

Cheney told his authorized biographer, "I don't recall it cropping up." That is surprising. At 4 p.m. on February 9, 2001, less than 3 weeks after arriving in the White House, Cheney received a briefing that featured this slide: "Al Qaeda responsible for Nairobi, Dar el Salaam, Tirana, Kampala, Yemen, WTC, NYC tunnels, Jordan millennium, Boston, LA, Washington State bomb materials, USS Cole." … Six days later, in a memo sent directly to Cheney, a senior director on the National Security Council staff suggested that the CIA should be ready to "definitively conclude that al Qaeda was responsible for the Cole. Richard Clarke and others in his counter-terrorism directorate peppered Chaney, Condi Rice, and Steve Hadley with additional evidence-- and recommendations for a military response-- at least 5 more times in writing during the spring.

The vice president, like his colleagues, had other priorities.
Donald Trump, who sometimes appears to have as a major goal to make Jeb unelectable, has lured Jeb and the rest of the Bush-Cheney old guard into the very debate they didn't want to see on the table-- and certainly never thought they would in the Republican primary. With Wall Street still-- if with trepidation and second thoughts-- still backing Jeb as their candidate, as the recent campaign financial filings prove definitively, Jeb still can't get to first base with ordinary Republican voters. According to the Wall Street Journal this weekend, "in a sign of how Mr. Bush’s fundraising pace has slowed down, he raised less from the financial industry in the last three months than he did in the first 15 days of his campaign alone. Of the top 10 employers listed by Mr. Bush’s donors, half are financial firms: Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Neuberger Berman and Barclays, where Mr. Bush previously worked as a consultant making about $2 million a year. In the three months that ended Sept. 30, Mr. Bush raised about $200,000 from the employees of 11 major financial firms, less than 60% of what he raised from those firms in the first 15 days of his campaign, in June. That is roughly seven times the amount collected apiece by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and 11 times the amount collected by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whose wife is on leave from her job as a managing director at Goldman Sachs." Nonetheless, Jeb is starting to feel the fall-off in support, even from his Wall Street devotees. Yesterday Politico reported that an increasingly desperate Jeb has slashed hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign staff salaries.

Still slamming' poor Jeb early this AM
Unfortunately for Jeb, the polling has been uniformly abysmal for him. The newest national poll from CBS shows him in 6th place with a distinctly non-first tier 6%, behind not just Trump and Carson but trailing Ted Cruz, former protégée Marco Rubio, and even Carly Fiorina. Worse yet, he is now viewed more unfavorably (38%) than favorably (32%) by Republican primary voters. But a bitter battled with the clueless Rubio for 4th or 5th place isn't what Jeb or the Bush Machine expected to be fighting in the fall of 2015. Trump claims the credit-- and to some extent he deserves it. He's constant needling and his success at "marketing" Jeb as "low energy" and too weak to be president and not smart enough to be president has stuck. Now, drawing him into a fight over what his brother did or didn't do right around 9/11 could finish the Jeb candidacy off once and for all.
“When you talk about George Bush, I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time,” Mr. Trump said.

Blaming 9/11 on Mr. Bush is taboo for Republicans and has largely been off-limits for Democrats. Pressed on whether he really meant to blame the attacks on Mr. Bush, the billionaire developer did not back down.

“He was president, O.K.?,” Mr. Trump said. “The World Trade Center came down during his reign.”

Mr Trump has been fiercely critical in recent months of Jeb Bush, who is also seeking the Republican presidential nomination, and in the process has levied attacks on his brother, the former president. At a Republican debate last month, Mr. Trump blamed Mr. Bush’s presidency for helping to elect President Obama.

“Your brother’s administration gave us Barack Obama, because it was such a disaster, those last three months, that Abraham Lincoln couldn’t have been elected,” Mr. Trump said.

Jeb Bush, a former Florida governor, defended his brother’s performance, saying he kept the country safe. Mr. Trump rebutted that he did not feel so safe.
At the very top of Jeb Bush's Twitter page yesterday was this:

That was on Jeb's page, not Trump's! But scroll down the page a bit and you find this:

And now even mainstream conservatives like David Frum-- a former employee of Jeb's brother-- are increasingly sickened by how easy it has been for even a silly cardboard bully like Trump to effectively paint Jeb as a weak and pusillanimous straw man with no backbone and no brain. Every time Jeb engages with Trump it becomes more and more apparent he is utterly unfit to be president of anything. The poor sad sack of a man is the furthest thing from a leader of anyone running in either party, save, perhaps, Lincoln Chafee, who at least stands for some decent policies.

Jeb wants to talk to voters about what a successful conservative governor of Florida he was. He doesn't want to re-litigate 9/11-- but he has no choice with Trump bellowing about it now and introducing a new word that is rapidly attaching itself to the definition in voters' minds of Jeb Bush: "pathetic." Whether Trump himself is ultimately the candidate or not, no one wants to vote for someone generally perceived as "pathetic." And that's what the two candidates are now calling each other, "pathetic," a word likely to stick to Bush long after Trump goes back to his successful brand marketing business.

UPDATE: Monday Morning, Early

Trump is still blasting away at Jeb on his most vulnerable point, just pounding the crap out of him. No one can possibly be happier than Bill and Hill.

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At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Henry Sanders said...

I have to agree. There's no word worse than pathetic.

At 9:11 PM, Blogger tamtam said...

As much as I hate Donald Trump, I'm convinced his whole campaign is to troll the Republican Party and hand the White House over to Hillary. I think Trump will have the highest poll numbers, but the GOP will still select Jeb! as their nominee and in doing so, Tump will have pulled down the facade on the plutocracy that is our government. This wouldn't be the first time the Republican Party has pulled a coup (see: Bush v. Gore, 2000)

As bad as Dubya was, he might still serve a useful purpose. Being the catalyst of the Republican Party's downfall is a good start.

At 1:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will never forget Jeb! frozen in fear while his emergency manager broadcast a warning to the people of Tampa to get under cover immediately with a hurricane about to come ashore. I wish I could find the video of that event. It would end Jeb!'s pathetic attempt to win a seat neither of his male relatives deserved either.

At 11:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Righton Tamtam.

GWB DID take down the Republican party. Like the Catholic church, teh head is DEAD, the body is still flopping around.



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