early and often

George W. Bush’s Iraq-Ukraine Gaffe Raises Unanswerable Questions

Photo: @michaeldamianw/Twitter

Today in things I wish I could go back and tell my 2003 self, George W. Bush accidentally condemned “the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq” during a speech in Dallas. The former president was actually talking about Russian president Vladimir Putin, and he quickly corrected himself, saying, “I mean of Ukraine.”

Bush then chuckled and muttered, “Iraq too. Anyway …” The crowd laughed. “Seventy-five,” Bush added, prompting more laughter. You know, because now that he’s old, Bush has started stumbling over his words … like he has notoriously done his entire life.

I did not expect the Bush administration to conclude with a Jinx-like confession, and, frankly, I don’t quite know what to make of this. Here are a few questions I’m still pondering after watching this video more than a dozen times.

Why did Bush say “Iraq too”?

Bush executed an adequate save, saying he meant to say Ukraine. But then he reversed, noting that what he said was actually true of “Iraq too”? Was this a joke? An admission of guilt? Deep down, does W. want to be tried at the Hague? Because it kind of seems like he’s looking to get caught.

Are you a monster if you laugh at this?

MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan put it well — unlike the countless sanctimonious Twitter users who are just out to scold people.

On the other hand, come on. One of Bush’s bad traits (constantly making gaffes) collided with his worst trait (starting illegal wars) — resulting in an admission we’ve been waiting two decades to hear! That’s black-comedy gold.

Who asked to hear Bush’s thoughts on fair elections?

The former president was speaking at an event titled “Elections — A More Perfect Union,” which was hosted by the George W. Bush Institute. The press release says, “Through a series of conversations with thought leaders, election practitioners, analysts, and democracy experts, the event will tackle how elections work, why they matter, and how we maintain their continued integrity and credibility.”

I’m not saying the U.S. can’t criticize Russia on election integrity, but who thought the guy who was declared president following Supreme Court intervention and a “Brooks Brothers riot” was the best messenger?

What is the George W. Bush Institute, anyway?

The logo designer is trolling W., right?

Please don’t send me your responses to the questions above. This is more of a meditative exercise — like the philosophical riddles “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” and “Is our children learning?”

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George W. Bush’s Iraq-Ukraine Gaffe: Unanswerable Questions