“That no instruction should have been drawn from constant and adverse experience; that the same confidence should have repeatedly grown from the same failures”
------Edward Gibbon, “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”
Gail Collins, writing in yesterday’s Op-Ed section of “The New York Times”, cited a week-old report from “The Washington Post” that John Edward Bush, known to all and sundry as ‘Jeb’, demonstrated that he too has failed to draw any instruction from constant and adverse experience.
In an interview with Faux News host Megyn Kelly Bush responded that “knowing what we know now” he would have done precisely what his brother did and invaded Iraq. After claiming that Hillary Clinton would do the same thing, if she could go back in time, one would think that he misheard the question. “Apparently not”, wrote Collins. “He then went on: ‘I mean, so just for the news flash to the world if they’re trying to find places where there’s big space between me and my brother, this might not be one of those.”’ (1)
Realizing that he had indeed stepped into some ‘deep doo-doo’ as his Yankee patrician father would say, Bush went into immediate damage control appearing on Sean Hannity’s radio talk show saying “I was talking about given what people knew then, would you have done it, rather than knowing what we know now. And knowing what we know now, you know, clearly there were mistakes.” Seeking to extricate himself from this emerging quagmire he finished by declaring that asking ‘hypothetical’ questions were a disservice to our fighting men and women.
Collins summed it up pretty well: “We had now learned” she wrote “that: 1) Jeb Bush still thinks invading Iraq was a good idea; and 2) he has inherited more of the family syntax issues than we knew.” She also alluded to a third: ‘Jeb’ is here displaying the prevailing family trait of gross incompetence. But it isn't simply the amateurish miscues of his nascent campaign that is troubling, it is that ‘Jeb’ should retrench to the position of ‘given what we knew then...’ The point is that his brother should have known better back then. Any acquaintance with the history of the region or with any history at all, would have counseled caution. Anyone, except the band of yahoos who surrounded George would have known better, even a maintenance man working in an apartment complex in Athens, Georgia.
Bush, of course, was wrong to try to involve Hillary in this muddle, but as he struggled with the ‘tar-baby’ that is Iraq and the Middle East he did bring attention to one of the central issues in the upcoming campaign for the presidency; and that is the question of lineal succession. Already Bill’s former team is in the process of decamping from the Obama administration and taking up residence again with the Clintons in preparation for the coming restoration. So, too, is the host of Neo-Con fools who piloted the administrations of ‘Ol Two-Cows’ into the morass of Middle East conflict. The same faces, the same policies, the same probable outcomes.
As Clinton operative James Carville is wont to ask: “When did the Republicans last win a presidential election without having a Nixon or a Bush on the ticket”? The answer: 1928 with Hoover and Coolidge. With this in mind, the “Eastern Establishment”, that is the moneyed interests within the party, will not look long or hard at the clown band currently boarding the bus. Instead all eyes will turn to the “House of Bush” in order to effect a restoration of their own.
If one were to pose the same question to the Democrats it would be: “when last did the Democrats win a presidential election without having a Clinton or a candidate not backed by Clinton operatives?” The answer: 1976 with Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale. Hillary, it will be recalled, loudly complained in one of the debates that most of her husband’s former advisors had deserted her in favor of Obama. They are now flocking back to the roost.
This is troubling on several levels. It is not a coincidence that ‘Jeb’ would reach out to the other perceived ‘front-runner’ for validation. He is not here establishing credibility by demonstrating a deep understanding of the complexities of foreign affairs. He is, however, attempting to establish credibility by associating himself with the country’s other ruling family. Diminutive trees and aristocrats behave like this. The same confidence repeatedly grows from the same failures.