It’s In Your Hands, South Carolina Republicans.

by Jim Geraghty

I don’t have a ton to add to David French’s assessment of Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate. Donald Trump, the current Republican frontrunner said, in discussion of George W. Bush and the Iraq War:

They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction, there were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.

“They knew there were none” is a big step away past “they misinterpreted bad intelligence” or other explanations about the decision-making that led to the Iraq War. As Ace over at Ace of Spades puts it:

If Donald Trump is right, and George W. Bush deliberately schemed with his neo-con advisers to “lie” us into a phony war with Iraq, what does that say about the average Republican voter who supported Bush from 1999, voted for him, defended him through the recount, cried with him on 9/11, agreed with him on Iraq, defended him from ceaseless liberal attacks on him during the war, defended him from Obama’s never-expiring “Blame Bush” blame-shifting, etc.?

If Trump is right, then we’re not just wrong to have supported him. If Trump’s right, we’re rubes and fools to have defended this Actual Hitler-Level Monster for going on 17 years now.

Trump continued to suggest that the 9/11 attacks were Bush’s fault: “The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign, remember that.”

Then, moments later:

BUSH: Look, I won the lottery when I was born 63 years ago, looked up, and I saw my mom. My mom is the strongest woman I know.

TRUMP: She should be running.

Trump was about one more tense exchange from responding to Jeb Bush with a “yo momma” joke.

Donald Trump entered the night the front-runner, and he will probably continue to be the front-runner. The odds of him winning South Carolina are good. In the giant, knock-down, drag-out fights we’ve seen over Trump’s candidacy, one of the common claims is, “this isn’t your party anymore!”

If the Republican Party wants to nominate a man who thinks Bush could have prevented 9/11 but chose not to, who knew Iraq had no WMDs and lied the country into war anyway, who sneers and shouts and bellows and interrupts and accuses everyone else of lying… if a majority of South Carolina Republicans look at all that and give it the thumbs up . . . then yeah, maybe it isn’t my party anymore.

Beyond that, Rubio was fine and distinctly non-robotic; Cruz was fine (although I wondered if he was fighting a cold); Jeb Bush was surprisingly pugnacious and sharp although I’m not sure it will change his share of the vote significantly, John Kasich was his insufferable self, and Ben Carson needs to stop complaining that he doesn’t get called on often enough. Those last two guys are human time-outs for when the exchanges between the top four get too heated.

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