Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) will find only one path to victory in 2016: through his brother, former President George W. Bush. And it will all come down to one issue: Was George W. Bush justified in invading Iraq in 2003, or not? That will be the purpose and legacy of Jeb as president; to vindicate, to legitimize and to justify the invasion of Iraq. If he does that, he will be remembered as the singular great man of our times; the one who stayed the course, the one upon whom history turns.
But first he must win the New Hampshire primary. From there on out, it will be a cakewalk to the Republican nomination, and a useful and creative one as well for the Democrats who will likely lose anyway in 2016. But they will be free to start again from scratch with the dynamic and able recent entry into the national field, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.
To win, Jeb Bush must not hedge. He must openly and forcefully show his hindsight support for the Iraq invasion. He might even get his brother to stump for him in the respectful Veterans of Foreign Wars halls up here in the northern hills of New Hampshire as former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has done recently in Littleton, N.H., far from the maddening crowd of reporters and activists in Manchester and Concord.
Truths in history, like truths in battle, shift with the sands of time. Things can go either way and the memory and purpose of the invasion of Iraq is still not clear in America's heart and mind. It must be clarified if America is to go forward.
Memory changes and so does the audience which inherits the memorable events. America has changed since 9/11, which brought the momentous turning of the century, and 2003, which brought George W. Bush's historic response. Something new has happened since; something is still happening. Sands are shifting. A metamorphosis perhaps is at hand, begun in the 2014 races that brought an unprecedented rise of conservatism to the heartland states, which, incidentally, is where the vast majority of our Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers and veterans live. Conservative governors in Massachusetts and Illinois have even appeared. My sense is that the disturbances and clashes in Ferguson, Mo. and Baltimore will have an immediate effect of driving the country further to the right by 2016. Jeb Bush must engage this rising political consciousness.
The one thing that must be remembered about George W. Bush is that, whatever else might be said about him, he is sincere and steadfast in his thinking. It might be said of all the Bushes. He is now as he was then; compared to, for instance, then-Sens. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCountering the ongoing Republican delusion Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future MORE (D-N.Y.), John KerryJohn KerryTo address China's coal emissions, the US could use a little help from its friends Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Storms a growing danger for East Coast Israel, Jordan, UAE sign pivotal deal to swap solar energy, desalinated water MORE (D-Mass.) and Joe BidenJoe BidenCDC working to tighten testing requirement for international travelers On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Manchin seeks 'adjustments' to spending plan MORE (D-Del.), who all voted in the Senate to authorize the war on Iraq. All three since have changed their positions to meet the contours and vagaries of public opinion.
"History will be kind to George W. Bush," brother Jeb said recently on "Meet the Press."
He's probably right. Doubters might recall this phrase from The Autobiography of General Ulysses S. Grant: Memoirs of the Civil War: "Experience proves that the man who obstructs a war in which his nation is engaged, no matter whether right or wrong, occupies no enviable place in life or history."
This is the way the world works: unsentimentally, perhaps unfairly, but this is how we remember ourselves, and this is how we find the path forward.
Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.