Donald Trump looks on as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks during the second official Republican presidential candidates debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif, Sept. 16, 2015. 
Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Trump, Jeb, and an increasingly weird 9/11 debate

Updated
The Rachel Maddow Show, 10/16/15, 9:00 PM ET

Trump blames Bush for 9/11, triggers establishment Republican outrage

Rachel Maddow rounds up the news in the Republican race for the nomination for the presidency, from the bottom-scraping Bobby Jindal and Rand Paul to front-runner Donald Trump, who violated Republican orthodoxy by suggesting that the attacks of 9/11…
Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump sat down with Bloomberg Politics and was asked about his “soft” side and how he might make Americans “feel safe” if elected.
 
The GOP candidate said he has “a bigger heart” than Presidents Obama and Bush, and it led to this exchange:
DONALD TRUMP: When you talk about George Bush, and say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time.
 
STEPHANIE RUHLE, BLOOMBERG: Hold on, you can’t blame George Bush for that.
 
TRUMP: He was president. Blame him, or don’t blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign.
Jeb Bush, not surprisingly, wasn’t pleased with the comments, and described Trump as “pathetic” on Twitter. “We were attacked & my brother kept us safe,” the former governor added.
 
Occasionally, when Republican presidential candidates argue, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that they’re both wrong.
 
If Trump wants to argue that George W. Bush should have taken the warnings from the intelligence agencies more seriously, fine. Trump could also point out that Bush was on a month-long vacation in August 2001 when he told his intelligence briefer, “All right. You’ve covered your ass, now,” following the “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” memo.
 
But to simply say disaster struck “during his reign” is overly simplistic.
 
As for Jeb, about once a month or so, he insists on making the case that his brother “kept us safe.” It never goes well. He just doesn’t seem to care.
 
Indeed, today’s quote is especially brazen: “We were attacked & my brother kept us safe.” Whether the GOP candidate appreciates this or not, the first three words of that sentence go a long way towards refuting the last three words in the sentence.
 
What’s more, as we talked about last month, it’s awfully difficult for Jeb to make the “kept us safe” argument given that terrorists killed more Americans between 2001 and 2009 than under every other American president ever – combined.
 
And even if Republicans are prepared to make the “9/11 doesn’t count” pitch, there were also the deadly anthrax attacks, the scores of terrorist attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the increase in the number of terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomatic outposts around the world.
 
Jeb and his allies may argue that the Bush/Cheney administration shouldn’t be blamed for these attacks. It’s certainly a subject that warrants debate. But to say, over and over again, that George W. Bush “kept us safe” is to pretend this deadly violence simply didn’t happen.
 
It did.
 
 

Donald Trump, George W. Bush and Jeb Bush

Trump, Jeb, and an increasingly weird 9/11 debate

Updated