Among former President Trump’s many accomplishments — the best economy in memory, a secure border, a strong military, energy independence, peace in the Middle East, a China Virus vaccine in record time, and more — the most unsung yet increasingly evident was his purge of the Bush dynasty from American politics. This feat became evident last Saturday honoring the close to 3,000 victims of the worst terrorist massacre in our nation, 20 years ago on September 11th. In a speech in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where 40 heroes died trying to wrest control of United Flight 93 from four Islamic terrorists intent on flying it into the Capitol, George W. Bush, the president at the time, went completely off the rails. Bush indirectly yet unmistakably compared the murderous Muslim fanatics of September 11th to the January 6th Capitol protesters.
“We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within,” Bush said. “There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols — they are children of the same foul spirit, and it is our continuing duty to confront them.”
The lunatic, tasteless, and blatantly inaccurate comparison merely proves that Trump not only broke Jeb Bush’s presidential aspiration but his older brother’s legacy, already on shaky ground. Dubya said nothing about the yearlong Antifa-BLM riots that burned and hollowed major American cities for a year. Had he kept silent, like the vegetative current Chief Executive, it would have been more presidential and respectable. Instead, he soiled the nearly 3,000 dead that day, the magnificent first responders, the late and living soldiers who fought for them, and, yes, even some of the Capitol rioters, who illegitimately manifested their displeasure at the 2020 electoral process yet harmed no one in the process.
The only fatality, Ashli Babbitt, had served our country in uniform, and was unarmed when shot dead by a Capitol Police officer. Even the politically tainted FBI found the January 6th incursion was a sudden outburst and not a planned Insurrection, whereas the September 11th horror was the result of meticulous strategizing by Osama bin Laden and others. This difference alone should have kept Bush’s mouth shut. But the broken man couldn’t help himself. The riot could marginally be tied to Trump, and Bush took the opportunity, dishonoring only himself.
It’s all in the family. The Bushes have long been classic models of O’Sullivan’s First Law, as articulated by the great UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s excellent speechwriter, John O’Sullivan, “All entities that are not explicitly right wing will over time become left wing.” Recent history is replete with examples: the Drudge Report, the Boy Scouts, Chris Wallace, Jonah Goldberg, Peggy Noonan, countless others, and — just like his father — George W. Bush.
I always disliked George H.W. Bush. World War II heroism aside, I deemed him a political wimp and faux conservative out of step with his world-changing true believer boss, Ronald Reagan. Reagan had trounced “country club Republican” Bush in the 1980 GOP primary (engrossingly described in Craig Shirley’s political must read book, Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America), yet the party establishment persuaded him to select Bush as his running mate. When the Reagan Revolution exploded, Bush had a ticket to ride. To his credit, he proved himself a loyal and able Vice President, so conservatives, me among them, thought, hoped he would continue the movement.
The mask slipped during the 1988 Republican Convention. Where Reagan had spoken clearly and inspiringly (“Everyone who is for abortion has already been born,” “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”), Bush blathered about “a thousand points of light.” When Bush whined, “I want a kinder, gentler America,” Nancy Reagan famously turned to her husband and said, “Kinder and gentler than who?” She knew the remark was a jab at Reagan, whom the Bushes secretly disdained, and the ideology that would soon cause the collapse of the Soviet Union, which Reagan had openly called “an evil empire” that would end up “on the ash heap of history.”
Unsurprisingly, Bush proved a docile, ineffective president. He let Russia become a criminal oligarchy, and, after leading a massive “coalition of the willing” (even the name sounded bland) nations against Iraq, left the country and its leader, Saddam Hussein, still standing. Even his greatest legacy, his appointment of the magnificent Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, was diminished by his other appointee, the abysmal David Souter. Only Bush could have turned a then record-high approval of 89% approval post-Iraq War into ignominious defeat. And I was not sorry to see the end of him.
I unenthusiastically supported George W. Bush for President in 2000. Of course, the alternative, Al Gore, would have been a nightmare, and that was before he revealed himself as a total loon. When 9/11 happened, I and much of America thanked God Bush was President. And initially he rose to the challenge. His bullhorn moment at Ground Zero was chilling and exciting. With his arm around a fireman, Bush took the megaphone and declared to New York City and beyond, amid exuberant cheers, “I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”
It was his finest hour, and all downhill from there. Bush committed the finest, mightiest military in the world to impossible nation building in Afghanistan and Iraq while bogging it down with dangerous, counterproductive rules of engagement.
“I remember when Bush declared war in Iraq and we went in and just a couple weeks into that conflict he passed down a rule that we had to take our American flags off our Amtraks,” tweeted conservative radio talk show host Jesse Kelly. “So, yes, George Bush has been a skid mark on this nation for some time.”
By babbling about nonexistent domestic extremists with 13 Marines blown to bits in Kabul, Americans stranded behind enemy lines, and the Taliban flag flying over the Presidential Palace, Bush has become more than a skid mark. He is now an outright disgrace.
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