At some point in recent months, members of Jeb Bush’s campaign staff probably sent him a strategy memo, encouraging him not to embrace his brother too closely. Given recent events perhaps the former governor missed the word “not.”
The Washington Post reported yesterday on the Florida Republican’s latest effort to connect his unannounced candidacy to some of his brother’s most striking failures.
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush would have authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, as his brother and then-president George W. Bush did, he told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly in an interview to be aired Monday.“I would have [authorized the invasion], and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody. And so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got,” the likely 2016 presidential contender said.
To top this off, the unannounced presidential candidate added, “[S]o 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.”
[Update: Bush was specifically asked ”Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?” He replied, “I would have.”]
Note the evolution in Jeb Bush’s approach to the issue. Just three months ago, asked about the disastrous war in Iraq, the Florida Republican told reporters, “I won’t talk about the past…. If I’m in the process of considering the possibility of running, it’s not about re-litigating anything in the past.” Soon after, Jeb Bush was willing to concede “mistakes were made,” but he wouldn’t say who made the mistakes or how he would have done anything different.
By last month, the GOP candidate was willing to say his brother’s policies are “not really relevant” in the 2016 campaign, as if we weren’t still dealing with the consequences of Bush/Cheney-era decisions.
But now, Bush is throwing caution to the wind, declaring on national television that there’s no “big space between” him and his brother when it comes to launching a disastrous war in Iraq for reasons that weren’t true.
Jeb’s entire posture is a little bizarre. He notes the faulty intelligence, without noting the degree to which it was manipulated by his brother’s team. Bush notes Hillary Clinton’s 2002 vote, without acknowledging the fact that she, unlike him, is willing to say the war was a terrible mistake.
What’s more, all of this comes against a backdrop in which Jeb Bush desperately wants voters to believe he’s his “own man,” despite relying on his brother’s policy guidance, despite turning to his family for fundraising help, and despite surrounding himself with advisers who worked for his father, his brother, or both.
If there’s a sensible strategy behind these moves, it’s hiding well.