Jeb Bush Blames Hillary Clinton For The Rise Of ISIS & The GOP Contest To See Who Can Make Headlines Is Officially Back On Track
What do you call a campaign speech centered around the failed policies of a former president, who just so happens to be your older brother? No, that's not a joke — although it sure sounds like one. In a speech on Tuesday evening, former Florida governor and current 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush blamed Hillary Clinton for ISIS' rise in the Middle East over the past few years. It's a topic that had previously been considered a weak point for the GOP hopeful. This is a terrifyingly bold move, especially given that the elder Bush brother has been considered by some Americans to be at least indirectly responsible for the creation of the Islamic State.
"ISIS grew while the United States disengaged from the Middle East and ignored the threat," said Bush to an audience at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. "And where was Secretary of State Clinton in all of this?"
Bush also lambasted Clinton for not visiting Iraq during her tenure as Secretary of State, calling out the former FLOTUS for refusing to support continued efforts in the key Middle Eastern nation: "Like the President himself, she had opposed the surge, then joined in claiming credit for its success, then stood by as that hard-won victory by American and allied forces was thrown away," Bush wrote. "In all her record-setting travels, she stopped by Iraq exactly once."
That's a pretty risky move for anyone, but especially for Bush, who has a troubled history of, you know, not knowing how to answer foreign policy questions in general. And given that the official 2003 dissolution of the Iraqi Army and the later military drawback were both actually devised under his brother, former President George W. Bush, it's almost comical. (Both issues were notably and aggressively posed to Bush after a town hall meeting by one passionate college student this past May).
While Clinton did indeed support the drawback measure, the former Secretary of State also supported a move to keep residual troops on the ground in Iraq. The only reason that didn't happen, as The Wall Street Journal pointed out, was that the Iraqi government wouldn't touch the offer with a 10-foot pole. The Obama administration, including Clinton, attempted to negotiate the remainder of some 10,000 troops left in the drawback's wake. But serious questions over legal immunity prohibited them from getting what they wanted, eventually forcing the administration to pull forces from the region altogether. This left a void for the rising Islamic State, then still in its infancy, to fill.
Keeping in the vein of rival politicians taking their collective frustrations out on Clinton, Bush seemed to ignore any factual evidence that may have lightened the burden of shame on her: "It was a case of blind haste to get out, and to call the tragic consequences somebody else's problem ... The cost has been grievous."
None of this is surprising, however, given the all-out brawl between GOP candidates in recent days, with each of them vying to make national headlines next with an assortment of jarring and ugly statements. From former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's likening the Iran deal to Holocaust ovens and implying that he might employ the FBI or the National Guard to stop women from getting abortions (you can't make this stuff up), to Donald Trump saying basically anything and everything since his campaign launch in June (most recently, a delightful comment about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly's period), to Ted Cruz, um, basically just seconding what Donald Trump says, the Republican race has become a metaphorical circus. Bush is eager to hop in, especially given how the most controversial among them seem to be doing in the polls.
It's anyone's guess whether Bush is creating his own mythical timeline, in which the past didn't actually happen and "the Bush Doctrine" was just a catchy title for an unreleased indie album, or he's simply ignorant of the facts at hand. At least for now, he's seems to be sticking to his guns.