W is all of us with a poncho. pic.twitter.com/2WsYj4EKme
— Brody Logan (@BrodyLogan) January 20, 2017
Basically, Trump repeated the left’s “Bush lied” lie:
“You call it whatever you want. I wanna tell you. They lied…They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.”
It’s fascinating how starkly that belief continues to divide us, in terms of our perceptions of reality. The Post‘s Richard Cohen wrote:
Of all the surprises, of all the unexpected ironies, of all the unanticipated turns in the Republican presidential race, it’s possible that Donald Trump has been hurt by telling the truth. Trump himself must be reeling from such a development and has probably by now vowed to return to lying and bluster seasoned with personal insult — “You’re a loser” — but the fact remains that when he called the war in Iraq “a big, fat mistake,” he was exactly right. Jeb Bush, the very good brother of a very bad president, has now turned legitimate criticism of George W. Bush into an attack on his family. His family survived the war. Countless others did not.
Hey, at least he called Jeb a “very good brother,” right?
But it fell to The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial board to state what really happened, and what did not. As to Trump’s “They lied” assertion:
Despite years of investigation and countless memoirs, there is no evidence for this claim. None. The CIA director at the time, George Tenet, famously called evidence of WMD in Iraq a “slam dunk.” Other intelligence services, including the British, also believed Saddam Hussein had such programs. After the first Gulf War in 1991 the CIA had been surprised to learn that Saddam had far more WMD capability than it had thought. So it wasn’t crazy to suspect that Saddam would attempt to rebuild it after he had expelled United Nations arms inspectors in the late 1990s.
President Bush empowered a commission, led by former Democratic Sen. Chuck Robb and federal Judge Laurence Silberman, to dig into the WMD question with access to intelligence and officials across the government. The panel included Patricia Wald, a former chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals appointed by Jimmy Carter, and Richard Levin, president of Yale University at the time.
Their report of more than 600 pages concludes that it was the CIA’s “own independent judgments—flawed though they were—that led them to conclude Iraq had active WMD programs.” The report adds that “the Commission found no evidence of political pressure” to alter intelligence findings: “Analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter their analytical judgments.”…
The Journal‘s headline for that editorial was “Donald Trump’s MoveOn.org Moment.” Indeed. Once again, the extremes meet.
The big question this week is, as W. comes to South Carolina — which has been solid Bush country since 1988 (although not so much in 1980) — to help his brother out, how is Trump’s rant going to play here on Saturday?
In a rational world, it would sink Trump’s chances completely. But when in the past year have you seen the phenomenon of Trump fandom respond to anything resembling reason? Actual Republicans would likely react to this latest by saying Trump’s gone too far. But do you think “Trump supporters” and “Republicans” are the same set of people?
Add to that the fact that the GOP electorate in South Carolina hasn’t entirely been itself since it caught the Tea Party fever in 2010, and the effect of this particular rant may turn out to be a wash. Things are so messed up this year, I’m not going to try to make a prediction…
So I saw this Tweet over the weekend:
— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) February 7, 2015
… and I really didn’t need to follow the link.
Of course it’s not entirely his fault. Just as it wasn’t entirely George W. Bush’s fault that he was the most polarizing president before Obama was.
Basically, we’re on a downward trajectory in terms of unreasoning partisan polarization that first started showing up in the early ’80s (a spate of unusually negative ads across the country in the ’82 campaign, the rise of Lee Atwater), and really blossomed with the election of Bill Clinton 10 years later — the first sign, for me, was the “Don’t Blame Me; I voted Republican” bumper stickers that showed up after Election Day 1992 and before Clinton even took office.
From the start, from before the start, Republicans abandoned the “loyal opposition” stance and treated Clinton as illegitimate.
Things got worse all through the Clinton years. They got nastier through the Bush years (and were nasty, again, from the start, with a brief hiatus right after 9/11). And as Obama took office, they just kept getting nastier.
Which to meet argues that it’s something about the rest of the country and our dysfunctional politics, and the president is just an incidental target of the vitriol.
If present trends continue — which they will, barring some horrific event that pulls us back together as a country, or some other cause for a drastic change in our political attitudes — then the next president, regardless of who it is, will be the “most polarizing in history.”
I hope I’m wrong about that, but I doubt it.
When I saw this on Twitter:
GOP's secret weapon: How right-wing churches turn the 99 percent into the Tea Party http://t.co/2Rl1yuGipW
— Salon.com (@Salon) November 10, 2014
— Salon.com (@Salon) November 10, 2014
I clicked on the link for the purpose of delving into how the hopelessly ideological (by which I mean, whoever wrote that headline) look at things.
It wasn’t very interesting. But my eyebrows did rise at this:
The answer given by the media then, and often proffered today as well by the Democrats is “It’s the economy, stupid.” They didn’t give that explanation up when Reaganomics produced heavy economic losses for working people who continued to vote Republican, and they didn’t give that explanation up when the Clinton/Gore years produced a booming economy and yet Gore lost (OK, he won but for the Supreme Court, but that was only made possible because of how close the vote was—and why would it have been so close if “the economy” is the determining issue?)…
Wow. Some liberals are still clinging to the “Gore really won” fantasy.
In case any of you still cling to that, it is patently untrue.
Sometime after the legal battle in Florida ended, a consortium of media organizations completed a recount of all the ballots. Actually, they completed several different recounts, using different sets of rules (as you’ll recall, much of the controversy during the Long Count in 2000 was over which set of rules to use).
Bush won the recount that the Gore people claimed was short-circuited by the courts.
Ironically, had there been a total recount of the entire state, the media recount indicates Gore might have won, by as few as 60 votes. However, using the rules in place on Election Day (and I still don’t understand how a reasonable person would expect any other set of rules), Gore still wouldn’t have won:
Gore’s narrow margin in the statewide count was the result of a windfall in overvotes. Those ballots — on which a voter may have marked a candidate’s name and also written it in — were rejected by machines as a double vote on Election Day and most also would not have been included in either of the limited recounts….
So yeah… for good or ill, Bush won.
Troy Patterson says it well in Slate:
Trivago, the Düsseldorf-based travel search engine, has a most peculiar on-air pitchman—a sallow avatar of middle-aged masculinity, a found object and a cult item, an accidental enigma.
Just look at this guy. The voice is deep with command, round with Shatnerian ham gravity, rich with a Peter Graves graininess. The eyes are beseeching but confidently steady. The clothes have been woken up in. The man is seedily creased, grayly stubbled, distractingly beltless. He may be looking for a hotel after coming home at 3 a.m. to find that his wife changed the locks. These unusual ads have been attracting baffled notice for a while, but now is the season for big travel-industry ad buys, and the Trivago pitchman is, unlike the blades of his rotary shaver, in heavy rotation.
Some viewers find his ubiquity annoying, while others fail to succumb to annoyance because they are entranced by his skeevy vibe. Who is he? Why should I trust his judgment? What is his profession? Record producer? Is his travel-planning wisdom born of bitter experience? Has he got any drugs? How did this oddity come to pass?…
What were the ad wizards at Trivago thinking when they picked this guy to be their official face?
But there was something that Troy Patterson didn’t pick up on, something that nagged at me through most of this ad. I sensed a presence, once I had not felt since…
Aha! Right at the end, I saw it. This guy stole that smirky half-smile from George W. Bush. This actor could not have tested well among Democrats, whose teeth are always set on edge by that smile…