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Jeb Just Can’t Help Himself: The Myth of His Electability Continues to Fade

August 14, 2015 in Blogs

By Joan Walsh, Salon

Calling Saddam's ouster a 'pretty good deal' and name-checking Paul Wolfowitz, Jeb keeps rivals' hope alive.

I’m running out of ways to describe the awfulness of Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign. If or when he fails, his jocular Thursday comment about the Iraq war — “Taking down Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal” – will be in every highlight reel.

Not only is Jeb! now fully embracing his brother’s disastrous, bloody war of choice. He’s talking about it in a glib salesman way, reminding us that the war was in fact “a pretty good deal” for his cronies: for Halliburton spinoff KBR, the entire defense industry, and a metastasizing web of private security contractors including disgraced giant Blackwater. The families of the dead and wounded in Iraq might disagree.

Things got worse in his speech Friday, where he volunteered that “Paul Wolfowitz is giving some advice.” Wolfowitz, the scowling face of the smug neocons.

I’ve asked this before: Does Bush even want to win?

Donald Trump claimed Bush had his “47 percent moment” – the comment that doomed Mitt Romney — when he suggested we’re spending too much on women’s health. But his dumb remark about toppling Saddam being “a pretty good deal” could rival that. Then again, there are so many contenders for the inconvenient, inadvertent truth-telling moment that could doom Bush: suggesting underpaid American workers “need to work more hours;” that “the federal government shouldn’t be doing this” when asked about the minimum wage; arguing that we should be “phasing out” Medicare.

Of course he walked all of those remarks back. Let’s see if he tries to do the same with this one.

All of these campaign flubs are occurring against the backdrop of the strangest presidential primary of our lifetimes, in which Donald Trump has taken the lead nationally, as well as in Iowa and New Hampshire, with 16 lackluster rivals trying to catch up. For a while Bush strategists were pretending the Trump candidacy benefited Bush, by depriving his rivals of the attention they need to gain traction, and predicting Bush would consolidate support …read more


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