The Corner

The Candidate Named Bush in a Post-Bush Party

I think the Iraq question that loomed so large this week can’t tell us much about the foreign policy of the respective candidates or their judgment under pressure. It really has more to do, in my view, with signaling that they are comfortable with the fact that the GOP is now a post-Bush party (or a post-W party, to be more precise). So none of the candidates hesitated to dissent from Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq, at least when it was framed by this particular counter-factual–except, unsurprisingly, Jeb. The former Florida governor says he misheard or misinterpreted the initial question, but he also might have been hearing the question he wanted to answer. Certainly, when he got the question again in subsequent days, he went out of his way not to answer it, and then when he finally gave in, he seemed pretty unhappy about it. Again, none of the other candidates reacted that way, and it must be because none of them were talking about a decision made by their brother. This awkwardness will be there for Jeb throughout the primaries, and if he becomes the nominee, the general election.

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