Republican candidates engaged in another food fight this weekend. Once again it was Donald Trump taking center stage; this time trading barbs with “Jeb!”
During a weekend interview with Bloomberg News, Trump had the very “Un-PC” audacity to lay blame for the 911 attacks at the feet of former President George W. Bush.
“I think I have a bigger heart than all of them. I think I’m much more competent than all of them. When you talk about George Bush… I mean say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time.”
Bloomberg’s Stephanie Ruhle pushed back saying: “Hold on, you can’t blame George Bush for that.”
But Trump wouldn’t back down. “He was president, ok? Blame him, don’t blame him but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign.”
A visibly angry Jeb Bush came to his brother’s defense. He called Trump’s comments “pathetic.” He said: “Leadership is what you do after a crisis...my brother responded to a crisis and he did as you hope a president would do…he kept us safe.”
Sadly, “Jeb’s!” passionate defense of his brother is as flawed in logic as it lacking in historical fact.
Jeb would have us believe that his brother bares no responsibility for failing to prevent the 911 attack in his first year as president; yet be given all credit and due for stopping similar attacks during his final seven years in office. As if the Bush administration didn’t take office until September 12, 2001. Dick Cheney has been trying to re-write history with this same nonsensical rhetoric since he left office. It doesn’t pass the smell test. You can’t have it both ways.
CNN’s Jake Tapper addressed the matter with “Jeb!” on Sunday. He said if George W. Bush should not be held responsible for what happened during his watch on 911 then why should Hillary Clinton be held responsible for what happened in Benghazi? A fumbling stumbling “Jeb!” could only mutter that the situation was different.
Republicans are flummoxed that Trump would dare to utter such a damning statement against one of their own. What they fail to understand is that Trump is a good politician that understands the game. “Jeb!” Bush is not.
Trump’s comment boxed “Jeb!” in a corner. If “Jeb!” refuses to respond he’s labeled as “weak.” If he does respond then he is “lowering himself to Trump’s mud raking level.” Every minute that “Jeb!” is wasting defending his brother he losing in defining himself. Win, win for Trump. “Lose, lose for “Jeb!”
Time is getting short. Iowa and New Hampshire are three months away. If Trump takes both Iowa and New Hampshire…and right now it appears no one can stop him…its Katy bar the door. Engaging Trump in a food fight is wasted time. Laugh at him…dismiss him…but don’t elevate him by acting as if his words matter. Because that is exactly what Trump wants you to do?
Politicians, CEO’s and other people in power are fond of telling us that saying “The buck stops here.” “Jeb!", Dick Cheney and many other former members of the Bush 43 administration prefer to engage in what we call “passing the buck.” Whether it’s 911, the Iraq War, the banking disaster or the economic meltdown they would have us believe that it all happened on someone else’s watch.
To his credit George W. Bush has remained above the fray; refusing to criticize his successor or lash out in Cheney like defense of his policies. Former President Bush understands that his legacy is in the hands of the historians and there is nothing he can do or say to change that now.
A true leader shares the credit for his organization’s success and accepts the blame for its failures. It is with this understanding that we assign both the credit and the blame for the events that occur under a president’s watch. “The buck stops here.”
Apparently “Jeb!” didn’t get that memo. Trump handed just handed him a copy.
Win, win for Trump. Lose, lose for “Jeb!”