After three days of fumbling his answers on whether he would have supported the Iraq War knowing what we know now, presidential hopeful Jeb Bush tried to offer new “clarity” on his position Thursday. At an event in Tempe, Arizona, Jeb Bush stated:
Knowing what we know now, I would not have engaged. I would not have gone into Iraq.
That position contrasts starkly with his statement on Monday when he argued that he would have invaded Iraq even knowing what we now know. Since then, Bush has altered his position several times, trying to quell the storm surrounding his Monday remarks. In the course of four days, he has espoused five different positions on the Iraq War, leaving pundits and potential voters bewildered.
On Thursday, Bush finally relented and joined others in the GOP field in admitting that the Iraq War was a mistake. While Jeb Bush has struggled mightily with the question, other Republican hopefuls have aligned themselves against the Iraq invasion.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, for example, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday:
I think it’s a really important question, and I don’t think it’s just hypothetical. I think even at the time invading Iraq was a mistake.
Although Rand Paul was not in the Senate at the time of the Iraq War vote, his father Ron Paul was one of six House Republicans to vote against the Iraq War resolution. 126 House Democrats also voted no.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Ohio Governor John Kasich have also made clear statements that they would not have authorized the use of force in Iraq, at least based on what we know now, which is, that the claims that Iraq had amassed weapons of mass destruction were based on false intelligence.
While Kasich and Christie are regarded as moderates in the GOP field, even conservative firebrand Ted Cruz candidly admitted that the Iraq War was a huge mistake. When FOX News’ Megyn Kelly asked him if he would have supported the 2003 Iraq invasion based on what we know now. Cruz flatly stated “of course not.” Cruz went on to argue:
The entire predicate of the war against Iraq was the intelligence that showed they had weapons of mass destruction and that there was a real risk that they might use them…We now know that intelligence was false.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio also backtracked from previous statements supporting the Iraq War, by arguing that with the benefit of hindsight he would have opposed the war if he had known it was authorized because of false intelligence. Astonishingly, with Jeb Bush’s capitulation on supporting his brother’s decision to authorize war with Iraq, the GOP field has essentially abandoned President George W. Bush’s most significant foreign policy decision
Jeb Bush has modified his position on the Iraq invasion so many times in the course of four days, that it is difficult to regard anything he says as being sincere. Although Jeb entered the race promising to be “his own man”, he has found it very difficult to extricate himself from his brother’s shadow. In addition, by constantly changing his position, and then finally mimicking the stance of fellow Republicans in the GOP field, Bush appears to be more a follower than a leader. The disastrous Iraq War wasn’t damaging enough in 2004 to cost George W. Bush a second term in the White House. However, it may very well cost his brother Jeb a first term.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.