Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor seeking the Republican presidential nomination, issued a blistering attack on Tuesday on the Obama administration’s handling of Iraq and terrorism issues, asserting that Hillary Rodham Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, had “stood by” as secretary of state as the situation in Iraq deteriorated.
He said President Obama and Mrs. Clinton had orchestrated an early withdrawal of American troops, setting the stage for the chaos sweeping the region now and the rise of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
“That premature withdrawal was the fatal error, creating the void that ISIS moved in to fill,” Mr. Bush declared in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library here on Tuesday night.
“Where was the secretary of state, Secretary of State Clinton, in all of this? Like the president himself, she had opposed the surge, then joined in claiming credit for its success, then stood by as that hard-won victory by American and allied forces was thrown away.”
I don’t know about you, but whatever the mistakes the Obama administration, including Secretary of State Clinton, made in dealing with Iraq, I absolutely positively do not want to hear a member of the Bush family criticizing them. Is that irrational? Yeah, maybe it is. But as soon as I heard Jeb Bush speaking, I felt a jolt of anger … and then I realized that no matter how intelligent and persuasive he may be, there is no way George W. Bush’s brother will be able to shake off the Iraq albatross. It was one of the greatest strategic mistakes in US history. It’s not exactly news that the Dubya administration, and Iraq, is a liability for Jeb Bush’s campaign, but it was all theoretical for me until I heard his attack on Obama and Hillary for losing Iraq. It’s infuriating, and made me know in my gut that I don’t want any of these people running US foreign policy again.
Maybe that’s just me, but I have to wonder if the Republican Party really wants to take a chance on having its presidential nominee so vulnerable to Hillary Clinton on this point. Note well that any GOP nominee would make the same argument that Jeb Bush is making here. But coming out of the mouth of a Bush, it’s different. It’s audacious in a way that brings to mind the definition of chutzpah: the man who kills his parents then throws himself on the mercy of the court, claiming he’s an orphan. It’s not fair to Jeb, but that doesn’t make it go away.