Shrewd, scathing Anthony Zurcher of the British Broadcasting Corporation got it just right. His article was headlined “Jeb Bush: Four days, four answers on Iraq.
Everyone makes mistakes, everyone flubs. But for a twice-elected governor of a major state and presidential candidate to flub, reflub, triflub and then quartroflub takes some doing.
On Monday, when asked about invading Iraq, he sounded decisive – and stupid. “Yeah, I would have.”
On Tuesday, retreating in front of the unexpected media frenzy, he told Sean Hannity –a toothless, thrower of softballs to any GOP frontrunner what was clearly the truth. He hadn’t a clue what he would have done. “I don’t know what that decision would’ve been.”
This was truthful, at least. But it was hardly presidential.
So on Wednesday, he retreated further and tried to hide a cloud of obfuscation. “Going back in time and talking about hypotheticals, what would have happened, what could have happened, I think it does a disservice to them, What we want to be focusing on are what the lessons learned… I think the focus should be on that, on the future.”
This pathetic blathering, at least, had the sound of authenticity to it. It as the voice of the real Jeb Bush.
By the time he got to his fourth try, it really didn’t matter what he said any more. But Jeb being Jeb, he couldn’t leave bad alone.
As the BBC’s Zurcher wrote, “Another day brought another answer.”
“Here’s the deal,” Bush ventured at Tempe, Arizona. “If we’re all supposed to answer hypothetical questions – knowing what we know now, what would you have done – I would have not engaged. I would not have gone into Iraq.”
The voice of firm leadership at last? Hardly.
Remember this week. It marks Jeb out as the worthy successor, not just to his intellect- and judgment-challenged brother, but to Mitt Romney’s endless foot-in-the mouth pratfalls of the 2012 campaign as well.
Four takes on Iraq without question ranks up there as an “ignore the 47 percent” moment.
The first rule of politics, Dan Hodges of the London Daily Telegraph writes, “is that you cannot select a leader who is unable to communicate with the country he or she aspires to lead.”
He is completely correct.
Jeb Bush already has failed that test.
His gigantic financial war chest doesn’t matter. Hillary Clinton had just as commanding financial resources in 2008 and the wheels fell off her juggernaut before she could escape the cornfields of Iowa.
Jeb already looks lackluster in Iowa. The people there simply don’t warm to him. He shows all the dynamism of a drowsing heifer. At least in her hunger for the presidency, it’s Hillary who’s the raging bull.
And as Nicolas Murray Butler famously told Sen. Mark Hanna why Theodore Roosevelt would be unstoppable as the Republican pick for vice president in 1900, “You cannot beat something with nothing.
Hillary, love her or loathe her, is indisputably “something.” Jeb has just memorably proved he’s “nothing.”
Make no mistake about it: This is a mortal wound.
It is a fateful turning point in the race to be the next President of the United States.
Martin Sieff is the author of Cycles of Change: The Three Great Cycles of American History and the Coming Crisis That Will Lead to the Fourth. www.martinsieff.com
Follow Martin on Twitter @MartinSieff
Martin Sieff is an editor at Sputnik, the Russian-owned news organization. He is the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East (2008), Gathering Storm (2014) and Cycles of Change: The Three Great Eras of American History and the Coming Crisis that will Lead to the Fourth (2014). Follow Martin on: @MartinSieff