CBS moderator John Dickerson opened the debate, asking Donald Trump and the other candidates if the Senate should confirm an Obama nomination to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly.
Trump said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should do everything in his power to “delay, delay, delay” confirming any new Justice until after the election.
The five other candidates generally agreed with Trump. Then all civility went out of the window and the debate quickly devolved into a bar room brawl reminiscent of a “reality TV show” that could be called –GOP Gangstas of 2016.
Trump may have swung the biggest, riskiest punch of the night, assailing Jeb Bush’s brother George’s foreign policy as president. Apparently, now that Trump is the frontrunner, embarrassing Jeb, it’s sacrosanct to criticize the former president.
In another ferocious performance lean on details to specific policy questions, Trump doubled down on blunt talk, which his supporters love but which drew loud boos from the South Carolina debate crowd that the RNC clearly packed with Establishment sycophants.
The audience was particularly offended when Trump accurately noted that “George Bush made a mistake” going to war in Iraq on failed intelligence. Perhaps the establishment forgot that Bush’s former Secretary of State Colin Powell, among many other prominent Republicans said the war was a mistake and Bush relied on faulty intelligence to justify it. But because Trump, the anti-establishment front runner, dared to speak the truth, he was booed.
Turning to 9/11, Trump continued his full frontal assault on Bush and Jeb’s belief that his last name gives him some kind of special privilege to become president.
“The World Trade Center came down during the reign of George Bush,” Trump roared. The other candidates were aghast that Trump had the audacity to suggest Bush bore some responsibility for 9/11.
Yet again Trump was right. While Bush handled the aftermath of the attacks well and prevented another attack, as president Bush missed the warning signs leading up to 9/11. The 9/11 Commission found the intelligence community received frequent reports of attacks during the summer of 2001.
The report found “A terrorist threat advisory distributed in late June indicated a high probability of near-term ‘spectacular’ terrorist attacks resulting in numerous causalities,” p. 257.
Richard Clarke, the National Security Council counterterrorism coordinator warned Bush’s National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and her deputy Stephen Hadley that “six separate intelligence reports showed al Qaeda warning a major attack.
In more incriminating findings to President George W. Bush’s failure to stop 9/11, the bi-partisan 9/11 Commission wrote:
CIA Director George Tenet told us ‘the system was blinking red’ during the summer of 2001. Officials were alerted across the world.
Yet no one working on these late leads in the summer of 2001 connected the case in his or her in-box to the threat reports agitating senior officials and bring briefed to the President. Thus, these individual cases did not become national priorities. As the CIA supervisor ‘John’ told us, no one looked at the bigger picture; no analytic work foresaw the lightning that could connect the thundercloud to the ground. We see little evidence that the progress of the plot was disturbed by any government action. The U. S government was unable to capitalize on mistakes made by al Qaeda. Time ran out.
To be fair, the 9/11 Commission blames former President Bill Clinton for having a woefully inadequate system of intelligence sharing and reporting among US government agencies. The Commission’s report also goes into detail how Clinton’s national security team canceled a viable plan to capture Osama Bin Laden in 1998 in Afghanistan. “No capture plan before 9/11 ever again attained the same level of detail and preparation . . . And Bin Laden’s security precautions and defenses became more elaborate and formidable,” p. 114.
Jeb responded to Trump’s attack by stating that his brother kept Americans safe. He did. After 9/11, America wasn’t attacked again under Bush’s presidency. But Trump was accurate in his unbridled characterization of what happened prior to 9/11, “I am sick and tired of him going after my family,” Jeb yelled back.
Americans are tired of men named Bush thinking they’re entitled to the presidency. Polls continue to show Trump leading Cruz by a double-digit margin in South Carolina. Conversely, reporters on both the left and the right stubbornly keep asking, “Can anyone stop Donald Trump.” Maybe it’s time for the media elites to FINALLY realize that the one conservatives want to stop is GOP Establishment and they’re succeeding.
Crystal Wright is author of the newly released book Con Job: How Democrats Gave Us Crime, Sanctuary Cities, Abortion Profiteering, and Racial Division. As a black conservative woman living in Washington, D.C, some would say she is a triple minority: woman, black and a Republican living in a Democrat dominated city. She’s contemplating moving back to her home state of Virginia, where her vote would count for something. By day, Crystal is a communications consultant and editor and publisher of the blog Conservative Black Chick. Crystal earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Georgetown University and holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Theatre from Virginia Commonwealth University.