Claiming The Republican Party: Bushism, Trumpism, Or Conservatism

The 2016 Republican presidential nomination is a collision course of competing political and cultural views of America. The nomination is a ferocious war among different cultural, economic, and philosophical forces attempting to lay claim over the Republican Party, and South Carolina is now the latest battle. These forces are: Bushism, Trumpism, and conservatism.

Bushism represents those business-friendly Republicans who generally favor international trade agreements, comprehensive immigration reform, a vigorous foreign and defense policy, an active government that supports business interests and traditional entitlement programs and a cautious approach to conservative innovation and reform. Bushism symbolically appeals to traditional conservative positions, but tends to qualify these positions with notions of electability. Thus, George H. W. Bush appealed to a kinder and gentler county; George W. Bush wrapped his conservative arguments in compassion, and Jeb Bush talks of a right to rise. Bushism is the antithesis of populism and finds its greatest support among traditional-establishment political, business, and Wall Street interests. It loves to make deals and side-deals. As a popular political force, it is in decline and its message seems weak. Its donor class is oblivious to this political decline. They invested over $100 million in Jeb Bush, only for him to perform poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Trumpism is a populist movement of the disaffected and disadvantaged, many of whom are inclined to a cultural conservatism and national patriotism. They are economically insecure, distrustful of elites, politically voluble, and generally working class. They are hostile to political correctness, establishment etiquette, the bi-coastal elites, and the media. Unlike the philosophy of Bushism, they are opposed to comprehensive immigration reform, guest-worker programs, bad trade deals, and international corporations that export jobs and plants abroad. They don’t like nation building. Unlike Bushism, which finds its home in the Republican Party, these voters can migrate from one party and personality to another. In southern Ohio, for example, from Steubenville to the eastern suburbs of Cincinnati, these voters alternated from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan to Ross Perot to Bill Clinton and even George W. Bush. In Donald Trump they find a champion that they could not find in Barack Obama, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. They are energized by strength.

The final force is the divided force of conservatism. It includes advocates of limited government, free enterprise, restrained foreign intervention, a strong defense, and a fidelity to traditional values of family, community, and faith. Since 1988, national conservatism has been sliced and diced among its various parts without a credible and coherent set of leaders and principles. Thus conservatism has been divided among libertarians, neo-cons, paleo-cons, and social conservatives. Conservatism can express itself in popular and national success such as in 1994, 2010, and 2014-15, but has so far failed to win a national presidential election. In some instances, conservatism has lost its appeal due to accommodation with Bushism and the establishment, while at the same time could find natural alliances with the Trumpian forces.

These three forces are now competing for the control and direction of the Republican Party. It is no wonder that the Republican primary has become a bitter and personal campaign. The personal and economic grievances of the Trumpistas, the last gasp of the establishment, and the division among conservatives is the perfect storm for a weak and wounded Republican nominee for president. The campaign has worsened the relationship among these forces, and has raised the prospect that none of these forces could come together in a consensus. While it is true that many voters aligned with Donald Trump stayed home when McCain and Romney were the Republican nominees, it may be equally true that many movement conservatives will stay home if Donald Trump is the nominee.

Perhaps the South Carolina primary might clarify the direction of the campaign. A victory by Donald Trump will make it hard for the divided conservatives and the declining establishment to provide an alternative. Conservatism, as we understand it as a political and social philosophy, is on the line in the Palmetto State, and may not recover its national importance for years to come.

– See more at: Vision & Values

Donald Trump On Bush’s WMD ‘Lie’: Ludicrous Canard

“George Bush made a mistake,” said Donald Trump in the South Carolina debate last week. “We should have never been in Iraq.” Trump added that “we destabilized” the larger Middle East.

Those are legitimate points of contention—though Trump should not exclude President Obama’s decision to prematurely pull troops from Iraq. That move by Obama in 2011 was disastrous, as so many (including Bush himself) warned it would be. It unquestionably helped enable the surge of ISIS and its establishment of a self-proclaimed “Islamic State” caliphate.

But then Donald Trump went way overboard.

“I want to tell you, they lied,” said Trump. “They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none.”

The “they” means George W. Bush, and (we must assume) basically Bush’s administration and entire security and foreign-policy and intelligence team.

Trump’s accusation is outrageous.

Given a chance to walk-back that remark in an interview with Sean Hannity, Trump seemed unwilling.

“Some people felt like you were going conspiratorial,” said Hannity, “suggesting that they knew that there were no weapons of mass destruction.”

Trump answered: “No. I don’t have—you know, I can’t tell you that. I can only tell you that getting into the war was a disaster.”

That was all that Trump said. No further elaboration. Was he backing down a bit? Maybe, but it was hardly a major retraction or apology.

Either way, Trump’s initial assertion should be dealt with. The idea that George W. Bush lied about WMDs is an old, ludicrous canard that needs to be dispatched to the ash-heap of history. It is a very unfair smear.

Let’s recall the history leading up to 2003:

The war debate was not over whether Saddam Hussein had WMDs. Everyone was convinced he did, including Democrats, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Kofi Annan at the U.N., the French, the Russians, the world’s intelligence agencies, and on and on.

The debate was not if Saddam had WMDs but how to best go about disarming him. The debate within the international community was whether an American-led invasion should be pursued to disarm Saddam (the approach favored by George Bush and Tony Blair) or whether sanctions and arms inspections should be pursued to disarm Saddam (the French-Russian approach), but never whether Saddam had WMDs.

For years, since at least 1990, the world was certain that the Iraqi dictator was ever-assuredly securing WMDs.

If I may, my personal experience is instructive:

I began working this issue at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) in 1991, and then continued in graduate school, as a professor, and as a researcher for various think-tanks. All along, I supported the Democrats in the White House—that is, Bill Clinton and Al Gore and crew—when they bombed Iraq because of its ominous WMD threat. The last such occasion was December 1998, after Saddam again kicked out U.N. inspectors as they demanded entry to clandestine WMD sites. By 2003, inspections had not occurred in Iraq in five years, which concerned George W. Bush and his team greatly in the post-9/11 world.

In my lectures on Iraq still today, I quote lengthy articles from The New York Times to Newsweek that detailed Saddam’s frightening covert biological and nuclear programs. Check the Washington Post (Barton Gellman, “Iraq Works Toward A-Bomb,” September 30, 1998); The London Times (“Defectors say Iraq tested nuclear bomb,” February 25, 2001, and “Iraq ‘will have nuclear bomb in months,’” September 16, 2002); The New Yorker (Jeffrey Goldberg, “The Great Terror,” March 25, 2002); U.S. News & World Report (Richard J. Newman, “Stalking Saddam,” February 23, 1998); Newsweek (John Barry, “Unearthing the Truth,” March 2, 1998); or Time, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal or other publications. Some of these articles laid out not merely nuclear programs but supposed secret nuclear tests conducted by Saddam. Peruse transcripts from major TV news broadcasts: CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, CBC. Check the BBC and NPR. And don’t neglect the full-blown books published by top houses, like Khadhir Hamza’s Saddam’s Bombmaker.

Watch the terrifying November 23, 1997 clip of Bill Clinton’s secretary of defense, Bill Cohen, on “Meet the Press with Tim Russert,” laying out the Clinton administration’s horrifying projections on Saddam’s WMD production in the absence of inspections. Russert, usually merciless in grilling people, naturally accepted Cohen’s details; there was no reason to doubt them. I used to show my students an amazing video of Clinton’s security team—Cohen, Sandy Berger, and Madeleine Albright—being shouted down by extremely rude students in a forum at Ohio State University in February 1998, which CNN broadcast as an “International Town Meeting.” Despite the embarrassing behavior of the students, the Clinton team hung in there, urging that America “must get those WMDs.” I also regularly showed my students the November 1997 CNN special report, “Showdown with Iraq.”

This is just the tiniest sample of what was always fresh and available.

I began collecting such material at CSIS. I maintained the briefing book (actually, literal briefing boxes) on this subject for our senior analysts, who were CNN’s regular analysts, and most of whom voted for Bill Clinton. In one case, we discovered and blew the whistle on a suspected Iraqi WMD site near Kirkuk. Dan Rather grabbed the story and made it his lead in an October 1992 “CBS Evening News” broadcast. Yes, that was way back in 1992, when even then we were being told that Saddam was on the cusp of an operational nuclear weapon.

George W. Bush, like all of us, first heard about suspected Iraqi WMDs from the media in the 1990s, long before he was governor let alone president. The press was unanimous in reporting daily that Iraq was producing if not harboring WMDs in defiance of the 1991 U.N. ceasefire. There were never-ending reports that Saddam was months away (estimates ranged from six to 18 months) from a nuclear bomb, on top of his equally alarming bio and chemical weapons arsenals, which he previously employed against “enemies” ranging from Kurdish children to the Marsh Arabs to the Iranians and Israelis. He promised to “scorch half of Israel” with “chemical gas.”

It was because of Saddam’s obstruction, remember, that the Clinton administration unceasingly bombed suspected Iraqi WMD sites throughout the 1990s, so often that Thomas Friedman of the New York Times quipped that Saddam Hussein was the reason God invented the cruise missile.

Thus, by 2003, President George W. Bush had correctly calculated that Saddam’s WMD arsenal, after at least five years of no inspections, was an intolerable, unacceptable risk in the wake of 9/11.

This was a fully legitimate fear, with Bush’s suspicion of Saddam’s stockpiles first informed not by his advisers but, instead, by the media that informed all of us in the 1990s, years before Bush became president.

In short, all of that very recent history was forgotten by an emotional, angry political left after our troops didn’t find the WMD stockpiles we all expected.

Of course, we did discover some WMDs in Iraq after 2003 (everyone forgets this), and chief inspector David Kay found both Iraqi “infrastructure and intent” to ramp up WMD production once Saddam later figured he was in the clear. We did not, however, find the warehouses of WMD stockpiles we expected. (The better question is why not and what happened to the WMDs.)

Finally, aside from these facts, imagine strictly for the sake of argument that George W. Bush did lie about WMDs. That would mean that he and his administration went to war in 2003 for a fallacious if not treacherous reason they knew would be exposed the moment we got to Iraq and found no WMDs. They would have pursued this self-defeating tactic realizing it would be revealed as a farce very soon, certainly by the next year, meaning the very year (2004) that Bush ran for re-election. It would have been a mission of political suicide, probably even impeachable.

In short, Donald Trump can legitimately question Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. But his charge that George W. Bush lied about WMDs is outrageous.

This is an old smear that needs to be ended, not resurrected by the Republican front-runner for president.

– See more at: http://www.visionandvalues.org/

Watch: George W. Bush Just Responded To Trump’s Debate Attack With 1 Sentence

At the most recent Republican presidential debate, Donald Trump launched a firestorm of controversy with his contention George W. Bush was responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. The tirade against George W. Bush seemed to shock MSNBC host Joy Reid who remarked even Democrats don’t claim George W Bush was responsible for 9/11.

Trump told Jeb Bush during a heated exchange wherein Bush expressed apparent outrage Trump was going after his family with verbal attacks. Bush praised his brother for creating a security apparatus which Bush contended kept Americans safe from subsequent terrorist attacks. Trump interrupted Bush’s comments with this criticism of George W. Bush, saying, “World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign,” the crowd instantly booed Trump’s comments. Trump continued, “That’s not keeping us safe.”

George W. Bush has remained largely silent during president Obama’s two terms as president. Now that his brother Jeb is running for president, George has broken his long-standing political silence.

George joined his brother Jeb on the campaign trail in South Carolina Monday. In a Bloomberg Business video, George can be seen with wife Laura, who was seated on-stage with Senator Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). George addressed the crowd, “The presidency is a serious job, that requires sound judgment, and good ideas. And there’s no doubt in my mind that Jeb Bush has the experience and the character to be a great president.”

Implying Jeb is the only one who can win the general election, George said, “We need to nominate somebody who can win in November. And all the sloganeering and all the talk doesn’t matter if we don’t win. We need someone who can take a positive message across the entire country, someone who can inspire, in a field of people from all walks of life, not just one party or one class of people.”

George continued by praising his brother’s sensibilities, “Jeb will listen to the voices of the disenfranchised. He will rise above the petty name calling and once elected he will not need a poll or focus group to tell him how to think or what to do.”

Speaking of his brother’s character, George said, “He will stand on principle. He will not waiver in the wind. And he will always do what’s right for American people.”

In what one Bloomberg Business called a “veiled” swipe at Trump, George apparently attempted to distinguish Jeb from Trump with this sentence, “These are tough times and I understand that Americans are angry and frustrated, but we do not need someone in the oval office that mirrors and inflames our anger and frustration.”

Trump responded on Twitter to George campaigning for Jeb. Trump tweeted and apparent warning more attacks on George will continue:

In an earlier tweet which may indicate future attacks on Jew will continue, Trump tweeted:

Watch: MSNBC Just Pointed Out The 1 Thing Trump Said About George Bush ‘Not Even Democrats’ Say

At Saturday’s Republican presidential debates, Donald Trump made a controversial claim currently reverberating into this week’s political commentary.

Trump’s comments came amid a heated exchange between Jeb Bush and Trump. Bush said;

So here’s the deal.  I’m sick and tired of Barack Obama blaming my brother for all of the problem’s that he’s (Obama) had. And frankly, I could care less about the insults that Donald Trump gives to me. It’s blood sport for him. He enjoys it. And I’m glad he’s happy about it. But I am sick and tired. I am sick and tired of him going after my family. My dad is the greatest man alive in my mind.  While Donald Trump was building a reality-TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe. And I’m proud of what he did. He’s had the gall to go after my brother…

Trump immediately jumped in saying, “World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign,” to which the crowd instantly booed Trump’s comments. Taking it one step further Trump said, “That’s not keeping us safe.”

Marco Rubio reiterated Bush’s claim that George Bush kept the U.S. safe.

But Trump rebuked him, as well.

“How did he keep us safe when the World Trade Center came down? I lost hundreds of friends, the World Trade Center came down during the reign of George Bush,” Trump said, while the crowd booed again loudly. “That is not safe, Marco, that is not safe.”

Trump then intimated Bush could’ve prevented 9/11 by killing Osama Bin Laden but Trump stated, “But he didn’t listen to the advice of his CIA.”

Now, even liberal left-leaning commentators are pointing out what they see as an obvious flaw in Trump’s Bush-blaming beliefs. MSNBC commentator Joy Reid remarked on the exchange from the Republican debate. “No elected Democrat has even said that,” Reid said, referencing Trump blaming Bush for 9/11.

Katon Dawson, former George W. Bush campaign chairperson and a guest on Reid’s show, said it was a big mistake for Trump to blame George W. Bush for 9/11. Dawson said Bush’s popularity rating is still in the 80th percentile among South Carolina voters, and going after the former president was a mistake for many reasons.

Dawson said South Carolina voters now know Trump can’t handle a punch and the other candidates have all the video and audio sound bites they need to oppose Trump in South Carolina.

“Trump didn’t handle a punch very well,” Dawson concluded.

Revealed: The Stunning Thing George W. Bush Told Ted Cruz Before He Ran For President

As Texas Senator Ted Cruz vies for the top spot in some presidential polls with GOP front-runner Donald Trump, the newly reported words that President George W. Bush had for Cruz in 2000 seems to show Cruz is exactly what he says he is: a political outsider.

Back in 2000, Ted Cruz was working to get into national politics, and Politico reported on the results of the Texan’s attempts to get some sort of birth in George W. Bush’s Washington.

While the newser tried to make it seem Cruz “wanted to be part of the Establishment,” the truth seems to show just the opposite–his attempts were stillborn because he apparently just isn’t Establishment material.

Politico reports that people familiar with the conversation Cruz had with the 43rd president said Cruz had a whole list of things he would like to accomplish in a Bush administration.

“…consolidate conservatives yearning for a political outsider, how he would outflank the front-runner on the right, how he would proudly carry the mantle of the ascendant tea party to victory over entrenched elites.”

Apparently, though, after delivering his long list of conservative goals, Bush wasn’t biting.

“I guess you don’t want my support. Ted, what the h–l do you think I am?” Bush reportedly told Cruz.

From there, things seemed to go downhill for Cruz’s hopes that the Bush administration might help him out with his own political aspirations.

As Politico notes:

Almost from his arrival at Bush’s headquarters, colleagues say Cruz flashed many of the same assets and liabilities still on his political balance sheet: acumen and ambition, combative and conservative instincts, elbows as sharp as his smarts, a knack for self-promotion and rubbing colleagues the wrong way.

When Bush won, however, Cruz would not get the White House post he had dreamed of; instead, he found himself in the bureaucratic backwater of the Federal Trade Commission.”

Cruz himself said he wasn’t able to get into the Bush White House because he had “burned some bridges on that campaign” due to his “youth and immaturity” in politics.

Despite getting no help from the GOP establishment, though, Cruz went on to win a slot as the Solicitor General of Texas, and then in 2012 went to the Senate from the Lone Star State.

h/t: IJ Review