At the Republican National Convention in Tampa last month, Jeb Bush diverged from the prepared remarks on his teleprompter and attempted to rewrite the history of his brother’s disastrous years as president:
JEB BUSH: I’ve been so blessed to be part of a family that has committed its life to public service. My grandfather and father have been incredible role models for me and served our country honorably. And my brother, well, I love my brother. He is a man of integrity, courage and honor. During incredibly challenging times, he kept us safe. So Mr. president, it is time to stop blaming your predecessor for your failed economic policies. You were dealt a tough hand, but your policies have not worked.
With the exception of his assertion that he loves his brother, nearly everything in Jeb’s statement is a lie — and the biggest lie is his assertion that George W. Bush kept the nation safe. A few weeks before the attacks on 9/11, for starters, George Bush dismissed and then ignored a warning from the CIA that Osama bin Laden was determined to strike inside U.S. borders. When the attacks came, 11 years ago today, the president allowed himself to be ferried from one secure spot to another, leaving command and control of the United States in the hands of his recklessly incompetent vice president, Dick Cheney.
Two years later, at the behest of Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney’s pick for defense secretary, and others, Bush led the country into war based on faulty or false — take your pick — intelligence. The invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq was an unmitigated disaster. Not only did it cost at least $1 trillion that the Bush administration borrowed from foreign creditors, including communist China, it wasted the lives of over 4,000 U.S. troops.
George Bush did not keep us safe on 9/11. He certainly did not keep the troops safe when he needlessly sent them into harm’s way, and, later, when authorized turning America into a torture state, he endangered the lives of Americans for generations to come.
Let’s also not forget that George Bush and his rubberstamp Republicans in Congress, including Reps. Paul Ryan, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Sen. Mitch McConnell and the rest, piled up trillions in debt and mismanaged the economy so badly that it crashed in September 2008. He did not keep the Americans safe who lost their jobs, their homes and their health insurance as a result of his gross negligence.
But it wasn’t just his brother’s presidency that Jeb Bush attempted to whitewash. His grandfather, Sen. Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder in a company that had its assets seized in 1942 because it traded with Nazis. It’s hard to quibble with this fact since the assets were seized under a law called the Trading with the Enemy Act.
And Jeb’s father, former Pres. George H.W. Bush, was a genuine hero in World War II, but, as Ronald Reagan’s vice president, we still do not know the extent of Bush’s involvement in the Iran-Contra terrorist arms-trading scandal. He said he was “out of the loop” while Reagan and his men were conspiring to arm the Contras with weapons they bought from the Iranian terror regime. When George W. Bush came into office in 2001, he signed Executive Order 13233 which effectively sealed documents that may reveal the true extent of his father’s complicity. On his first day in office, Pres. Obama rescinded Bush’s order, but, to the best of our knowledge, and for reasons that are unclear, Bush Sr.’s papers have not yet been unsealed.
Imagine for a minute an alternate universe in which al Qaeda attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2009, nine months into Pres. Obama’s term, rather than in 2001, nine months into George Bush’s term. If the attacks had occurred in 2009, on Pres. Obama’s watch, the national unity America experienced for weeks and months after that day in September 2001 would have evaporated before sunset Republicans would have moved immediately to impeach Pres. Obama and drive him from office — especially if they had as evidence a memo Pres. Obama had received from the CIA while on vacation 36 days before the attack that was titled, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.”
Democrats opted not to hold Bush accountable after they gained majorities in both houses. Republicans certainly will never hold him or any of their own accountable for anything, and Bush himself reflexively avoids taking responsibility for his mistakes. Therefore it will be up to history to hold Bush to set the record straight. That is why it is important to be rigorous about rebutting the Bushes and their supporters every time they attempt to rewrite the history of the Bush years, as Jeb did in Tampa.