‘Jeb Can’t Be That Dumb’

Jeb’s Extra Layer of Protection: Fox‘s Megyn Kelly asked Jeb Bush, “Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion [of Iraq]?” Bush answered “I would’ve,” but then proceeded to defend the decision on the basis of what people thought they knew then. Bizarrely, Fox’s report on its own broadcast ignores the damning part of Kelly’s, question — the “knowing what we know now” part — and simply reports that Jeb “says that he would have authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Politico‘s Mike Allen, linking to the Fox story in his widely read “Playbook,” ignores the hypothetical too — as does Politico‘s own report by Adam B. Lerner, until the very last paragraph, when it comes up in citing Laura Ingraham’s argument that Hillary wouldn’t have invaded “knowing what we know now.”

This is at least weird. Did Fox’s reporter not bother to listen to the first 15 seconds of the video that was embedded in his own story? I’m not saying there was a top-down Ailes-ordered conspiracy to protect Bush (not that this is inconceivable!). But I do think there is a reluctance in the professional press corps (which Allen epitomizes and champions) to believe that professionally prepped Jeb would say anything that dumb. So they reported the story as if Jeb had answered the question he would prefer to have been asked. The result was the same as if they’d been consciously covering for Jeb — much of the world does not know that he said he’d still invade Iraq given a) the absence of WMDs, b) the chaos now engulfing the region, etc.**


** — That answer might be defensible, but politically it’s still a damaging thing to say running for President in 2015. Bush clearly was trying not to say it, even if that meant pretending Kelly didn’t ask what she asked.  Who knows if he thinks it?