Jeb, W. and the invasion of Iraq

Said here in The Hill on April 29: "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?"

Bush should hold fast to it. Time will come to him. Since then, Bush has spoken up in opposition to the prevailing winds, which egg him on to repudiate his brother's invasion and join then-Sens. Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Joe Biden who had supported the invasion, quite clearly as the polls supported the invasion, then turned against it in time. And the establishment, embedded press, it should be said, likewise aggressively supported the invasion and today, in hindsight, is aggressively against it.

Finally, the press descended on Jeb Bush with a vengeance, forcing him into a corner where he finally defaulted yesterday afternoon and declared weakly: "I would not have gone into Iraq."


The major papers already had him on the ropes.

"On Iraq question, Jeb Bush stumbles and GOP hopefuls pounce," read the headline in The Washington Post. "Jeb Bush came face-to-face here Wednesday with the perils of carrying a politically divisive family name, skirmishing with voters over the Iraq war and continuing to struggle with how to differentiate himself from his brother," the article continued.

"Brother's past proves tricky for Jeb Bush," was on the front page of The New York Times, quoting a young woman in the first paragraph who declared, "Your brother created ISIS [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria]."

The clip played throughout the day on TV news.

Two weeks ago, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was comfortably ahead in New Hampshire in four out of five polls. Bush had only one tie and Walker held the spread by a healthy margin. Walker is still ahead, but now Bush has one tie and two wins out of five polls and is progressively advancing closer to taking the lead in New Hampshire.

A number of commentators had made the case that Bush must win the New Hampshire primary to win the nomination and if he did not, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 presidential nominee, could be called back into the race.

Bush should ignore the press and pundits and do just what he is doing. He is winning. He should return to New Hampshire quickly and in the cool light of dawn ask this question: How did a young woman in a crowd screaming into a microphone with an absurd statement about ISIS — not even a question — become the lead paragraph in The New York Times? And why did television news advance this irrelevant clip throughout the day?

And with that he will take New Hampshire and move forward.

The 2014 race awakened a conservative movement which brought Republican governors even to liberal Massachusetts and Illinois and swept the nation red from coast to coast. And the reelection of the Conservative Party prime minister last week in Britain has brought a new conservative majority. The press today is well out of sync with these rising events and their meanings and trends. If anything, an unprecedented shift to the right is occurring in America, Britain, France and other major European countries, while the press still lags in the zeitgeist of the former century.

In situations like the racial conflicts in Ferguson, Mo. and elsewhere, the establishment press today views these situations through the lens of the recent past; that is, the chaos and howling dissent of the Sixties and Seventies. Those Vietnam-era attitudes have been institutionalized in the press and reinforced in the general culture although the war is over now more than 40 years. Still the anonymous, attractive youthful face screaming agitprop in the crowd gets the headline, just as it did when activists Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin staged such incidents in the anti-war movement in 1968. Today, reporters — even at Fox — don't need to be surreptitiously prompted by aparatchiks.

But those times are not these times and Bush should press on as he has these past weeks and watch his poll numbers climb. That is leadership. In time, the press will follow.

"Memory changes and so does the audience which inherits the memorable events" — said here in The Hill on April 29 in a piece that brought much anger to my mailbox. "America has changed since 9/11, which brought the momentous turning of the century, and 2003, which brought George W. Bush's historic response."

But history lags in the hearts and minds as William Faulkner wrote in his famous passage in Intruder in the Dust; there was still that instant when it was "still not yet two o'clock on that July afternoon in 1863," even 100 years later. Liberals today lag in the Sixties while conservatives envision the apotheosis of President Reagan. But our world, our millennium, began on 9/11 and that world, our world, has still not come fully into focus.

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