early and often

Would Jeb Bush Have Invaded Iraq? Now He’s Not Sure

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01: Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (C) listens to opening statements while testifying before the House Budget Committee in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill June 1, 2012 in Washington, DC. The committee members engaged in a wide-ranging debate about tax and spending policy during the hearing titiled,
Jeb Bush. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/2012 Getty Images

Jeb Bush has been taking flak from the right and the left for declaring earlier this week that he would have authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, even though we now know the intelligence was faulty. On Tuesday he tried to clarify his answer on Sean Hannity’s radio show — though he actually has no idea what he would have done. Fox News’ Megyn Kelly asked Bush if he would have invaded “knowing what we know now,” but apparently he missed that last bit. “I interpreted the question wrong, I guess — I was talking about, given what people knew then,” Bush explained. Hannity rephrased Kelly’s query as a yes-or-no question, but he was unable to give a definitive answer. “I don’t know what that decision would have been. That’s a hypothetical, but mistakes were made, as they always are in life,” he said.

Once again Bush vigorously defended his brother, saying the current unrest in the Middle East is really President Obama’s fault. “The simple fact is that under the last few years of my brother’s presidency, the surge was quite effective to bring stability and security to Iraq, which was missing during the early days of the United States’ engagement there,” Bush said. “And that security has been totally obliterated by the president’s pulling out too early. And now these voids are filled by this barbaric asymmetric threat that endangers the entire region and the entire world.”

As the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman pointed out on Twitter, Bush had years to come up with a more coherent response to the Iraq question.

Even without years of preparation, Chris Christie managed to come up with the correct response for a Republican 2016 candidate when asked on Tuesday if sending U.S. forces into Iraq was the right call. “No. It wasn’t,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “I think President Bush made the best decision he could at the time, given that his intelligence community was telling him that there was WMD and that there were other threats right there in Iraq,” Christie said. “But I don’t think you could honestly say that if we knew then that there was no WMD that the country should have gone to war.”

That’s how you defend President Bush while condemning the Iraq War, without actually saying much. Christie even added a bonus jab at Jeb Bush. “I want to directly answer your question because that’s what I do,” he said.

Would Jeb Have Invaded Iraq? Now He’s Not Sure