To appreciate one reason why Donald Trump is thumping Jeb! in the polls, substitute a question mark for the exclamation point.
Jeb? isn’t doing so well at persuading people that what they think they heard isn’t what he meant to say.
It doesn’t take a degree in psychology to know that someone’s first, unguarded remark reveals much more about him than any effort to explain it.
The latest example is his vacillating position on his brother’s war in Iraq.
Early in the campaign he was asked unmistakably that if we knew then what we know now — that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction — should we have invaded? Bush’s answer: Yes. Days later, he said he had misunderstood and misspoken and that the proper answer was no.
But last week, bristling at the attention being paid to surrounding himself with advisers like Paul Wolfowitz and other professional hawks who had coached his brother into the war, Bush ventured that “taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal.”
Amazingly, he added that “the mission was accomplished” — doesn’t that sound familiar? — by the time his brother left office.
Far from being a good deal, it was the worst foreign policy blunder this nation has ever made.
And if Bush can’t see that, he is a threat to repeat it. His appetite for throwing more lives and treasure into the maw of the Middle East is already obvious.
Saddam was a tyrant, to be sure. But the grim reality of geopolitics is that the devils we know are often better than the devils we don’t. Saddam’s rule kept Iraq’s Sunnis and Shiites from each other’s throats and was an effective counterweight to Iran, a more dangerous potential enemy. Saddam misjudged the risk of an attack by the United States because he wanted Iran