Sure, you've heard about the GOP candidates' constant nostalgia for Ronald Reagan. But during the GOP undercard debate, Lindsey Graham missed another former president: George W. Bush. More specifically, he'd like us to stop picking on Dubya and direct blame where it really belongs — on Obama, of course.
Debate moderator Wolf Blitzer asked the candidates if they would remove Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is largely considered a hindrance in fighting ISIS, if they were elected office. When it got to Graham, he started off on topic: "For our interest and the stability of the region, he must go, and if I'm president he will go," he said of Assad. It's not clearly exactly what happened after that, but the South Carolina senator launched into a tear that went from shirtless Vladimir Putin to Graham's big heart eyes for George W. Bush. Natch.
First, Graham defended the (not actually attacked) policies Bush adopted late in the game in Iraq. "The surge worked. It worked," Graham insisted with a fervor that only people who don't actually believe themselves can have. "George W. Bush made mistakes, but he did adjust. I blame Obama for ISIL, not Bush. I'm tired of beating on Bush."
But then Graham signed his love letter to our 43rd president with this XOXO: "I miss George W. Bush. I wish you were president right now. We wouldn't be in this mess," Graham said to thunderous applause.
OK, so there are some things to unpack here. First, I hope Dubya is sitting there with a grin on his face, knowing that he finally got the thorough defense of his presidency that he probably expected from, you know, his brother Jeb! Now he can finish his paintings of dogs and world leaders with some measure of peace.
Second, can we talk about the switch to the second person with "I wish you were president right now"? That was some powerful stuff. It was as if he was gazing right through the camera lens and into Bush's soul, right there in front of God and country. Absolutely beautiful.
And, on to my third and final point, probably the most pertinent to uncovering today's political climate: why was there applause after that tirade? Seriously, y'all. Graham uttered five syllables that would have been political suicide a mere months ago and got an enthusiastic response from the crowd. Is the GOP establishment that disgusted with Obama that they would rather turn to Bush to smooth over this whole conflict in the Middle East? Because he's got such a great track record?!
*MEGA SIGH*. Hopefully Bush is just on the brain because of Saturday Night Live.