Jeb Bush Mishandles Iraq Question as Well as His Clarification

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
Washington, DC

There’s been a considerable amount of talk about Hillary Clinton being a flawed candidate with the potential to self-destruct during a tough race.

The last few days of headlines featuring the name “Bush” and “Iraq” may set some wondering if the same isn’t true of Jeb Bush. Even the damage control attempted after a now-controversial exchange with Fox’s Megyn Kelly on Iraq is causing Jeb damage on the right, as well as the left.

Republican Jeb Bush said on Tuesday that “mistakes were made” in the Iraq war, moving to disavow a controversial statement he made in support of the 2003 invasion ordered by his brother, then-President George W. Bush.

The former Florida governor, who is likely to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, had told Fox News in an interview broadcast on Sunday that “I would have” authorized the invasion.

The comment fed a narrative pushed by Democrats that Jeb Bush is little different from his brother, who left office in early 2009 with his popularity weakened by the Iraq war and a faltering U.S. economy.

All in all, Jeb’s mishandling of what had to be a foreseeable issue also calls into question how well-prepared he is for a run at the White House.

Even after his clarification Tuesday afternoon that he wasn’t in actuality reaching beyond his brother’s defense of the Iraq War, Bush continues aligning himself with some of the former president’s most hawkish advisers including former NSA and CIA head Michael Hayden and former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; and the former Florida governor has signaled that his own foreign policy vision would be similar to his brother’s: muscular and interventionist.

After explaining his response to Kelly’s question, Bush immediately pivoted and praised his brother’s 2007 troop surge for effectively bringing “security and stability to Iraq” and blasting the Obama administration’s withdrawal from Iraq for “totally obliterating” the gains that had been made and giving rise to ISIS.

“The United States needs to be engaged in the world,” Bush continued. “We need a foreign policy that is strong, secure and consistent.”