George W. Bush returned to the presidential campaign trail on Monday night to campaign for Jeb Bush, telling voters in South Carolina that his brother has the “experience and character to be a great president.”…

The former president pointed to the abundant “name-calling” in the 2016 election — an apparent reference to the jabs exchanged between Jeb Bush and Donald Trump in recent months — and joked that according to their father, George H.W. Bush, “labels are for soup cans.”…

Although the former president did not once mention Trump’s name in his 20-minute speech, the implicit message was clear: Trump is not a serious candidate.

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Trump said, “The Iraq war was a disaster. It was a mistake. We spent $2 trillion, thousands of lives, thousands of lives, wounded warriors who we love all over the place. What do we have? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Iran is taking over Iraq as sure as you’re sitting there. And that’s the way it is. We get nothing. They get the oil, they get everything. We get nothing. So it was a huge mistake. Whether people like it or not. and I’m the only one with the vision to have said don’t do it. And I wasn’t even a politician when I said that.”

He added, “Something’s going to have to happen with the party or we’re going to lose yet another election. I’m not even doing it to win election, I’m doing it out of common sense. The war was a horrible thing. If we’re not going to admit that, you’re going to have yet another election where the Democrats are going to win.”

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The morning after he called the Iraq War a huge misstep and argued that President George W. Bush lied to get the country into it, Donald Trump has earned praise from, of all places, Code Pink, the group best known for protesting the Iraq War and subsequent military interventions.

“I watched the debate last night and LOVED IT,” Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin said in an email. “It felt surreal to hear Donald Trump, the leading Republican contender for President, saying what we at CODEPINK have been shouting to the winds for 14 years now: that Bush and his cronies lied about WMDs, that the Iraq war was catastrophic, and that Bush never ‘kept us safe’ because 9/11 happened on his watch.”

“A ‘big, fat mistake,’ indeed,” Benjamin continued. “Trump even talked bout the cost of war and how the trillions we wasted on war could have been used to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure — a theme we have been harping on all these years with a campaign called ‘bring our war dollars home.’ It was wild.”

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When Donald Trump attacked the war as a “big fat mistake” during the recent debate in South Carolina, and went on to say that “they” — the George W. Bush administration — lied about weapons of mass destruction, Jeb took it personally.

“I am sick and tired of him going after my family,” Bush said as Trump stood nearby.

The Iraq war affected a lot of Americans. More than one million U.S. military men and women served in Iraq after the 2003 invasion. A total of 4,495 died, while 32,223 were wounded. Their families were affected. Their communities were affected. And, of course, all Americans have an interest in a war’s success and the furtherance of U.S. national interest.

In other words, the effects of the Iraq war extend far beyond the confines of the Bush family. But Jeb Bush, in public at least, takes an attack on the war as an attack on his mom and his dad and his brother.

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Hours before George W. Bush was due to hit the campaign trail in South Carolina with his brother, Ted Cruz tore into Donald Trump for once indicating support for impeaching the former president.

“When he was arguing for the impeachment of George W. Bush, that was not a reasonable position, that was an extreme and radical position,” Cruz, a onetime Bush campaign staffer, told reporters…

“The Constitutional standard for impeachment is high crimes and misdemeanors,” continued Cruz, saying a “mistake” is not reason enough to impeach. “And when Donald Trump sided with Moveon.org and Michael Moore and the extreme fever swamp left wing, on calling for the impeachment of George W. Bush, that demonstrated where he was coming from.”

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In the year before the war, I was noting pretty carefully which public figures were saying which things about whether the U.S. should invade Iraq. That was because I was interviewing diplomatic, military, and political officials about the consequences of an invasion, in preparation for an article called “The Fifty-First State?”

Through that time, I noted the people who lined up against the war. Former Vice President Al Gore notably did so, in a speech at the Commonwealth Club in September, 2002. A young Illinois state senator named Barack Obama did the same, early in October. In the Senate, Democrats like John Kerry and Hillary Clinton were equally notable for voting in favor of the war. Twenty-one other Democrats, from Teddy Kennedy and Bob Byrd to Russell Feingold and Paul Wellstone, voted No. The full list is here. Bernie Sanders was not yet in the Senate (he voted No in the House), but his independent predecessor from Vermont, Jim Jeffords, voted No—as did exactly one Republican, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, now a Democrat, and for a while a 2016 presidential candidate.

So the lines were drawn, the warnings issued, and the predictions or promises made in the fall of 2002. I have no recollection, and can find no record, of Donald Trump saying anything whatsoever in public about invading Iraq before the war began.

To say this again: I’m as likely to have noticed Trump’s public opposition to the war, had it existed, as anyone you’ll find. And I am not aware of his having said anything, nor has anyone provided any evidence that he did so. I believe he is completely making this up.

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Trump wants us to rig the game so he will always emerge as the winner. Irritated that Trump repeatedly gave money to the Democrats, including before the 2008 wave? Upset that Trump praised Nancy Pelosi as “terrific” when she picked up the gavel that would pass Obamacare? Annoyed that Trump called for an assault-weapons ban just as the right to keep and bear arms was being restored piece by piece? Angry that, just three years ago, he was slamming Mitt Romney for his harsh stance toward illegal immigration? Don’t be. He “wasn’t a politician” back then, and besides, “that’s just what businessmen do.” If, on the other hand, you are impressed that Trump isn’t on record anywhere supporting the War in Iraq . . . well, that’s because he has always had brilliant instincts and will make a top-notch commander in chief.

Trump’s role as a supra-political Rorschach test has by now been well-established — the man does, without doubt, have a keen knack for malleability, most evident in matters of foreign policy. Simultaneously, Trump manages to appear as the strongman crusader who will bomb the s**t out of the bad guys, submit terrorists to techniques worse than waterboarding, and intimidate every other government with one narrowing of his eyes, even as he plays the Taftite opponent of foreign adventurism who will bring back your tax dollars for some “nation building at home.” If that is what a good portion of the Republican base is looking for in a president, that is its prerogative; all’s fair in love and war, and profitable will be the man who can flit seamlessly between the two. But for the rest of us — many of whom have grown tired of the intellectual incoherence and practical vacillation that have marked the unlovely Obama years — elasticity and expedience are not virtues, and nor is the cynical retconning of recent history. In keeping with his penchant for playing all sides of every game, Donald Trump was silent on Iraq right up to the moment at which it turned nasty. He must not be allowed to pretend otherwise.

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I have to insist once again: It was not Bush that lied. It was conventional wisdom under Clinton that Saddam Hussein had WMDs. Clinton said so himself in the run-up to the War in Iraq, and that’s why his wife voted in favor of it.

We’ve been through all this. Every single person here has. Every single person here knows that the reason we all thought Saddam Hussein had WMDs is that we heard it from four different presidents, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and then Bush the Younger, and in fact we know he actually used them during Reagan’s term (against Iran) and the Elder Bush’s term (against his own people, or, rather, the Kurds, whom he ruled, but considered to be subhuman).

There was a 60 Minutes episode about the after-effects of a Hussein bombing of a Kurdish town with VX nerve agent. It was pretty horrifying to see young men, hopping around, palsied, scorched by permanent nerve damage, now turned into shambling, quivering spastics by Hussein’s VX…

The idea that Bush schemed with neo-cons to lie is… Lord we used to be smarter than this. Are we really now adopting the 2003 MoveOn.org theory of the war?

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Trump is saying that, under George W. Bush, the Republican Party allowed its understanding of politics to be corrupted. For whatever reason, under Bush, the GOP became a party that let self-aware rhetorical posturing dictate the way policy was formulated. The result was failure across the board. Worst of all was the ensuing failure of memory as Republicans forgot the winning arts and sciences. In so doing, they enabled America to lose its way in the hall of mirrors — and lose its greatness…

But Trump is not just running against Bushism. He’s running against what it’s a symptom of — the certain kind of insider sophistry that he says defines the political class. That’s why he was onstage at all last night. That’s why he’s in first place now. And that’s why he’s more at home in the GOP than so many want to admit…

The typical critique of politics today is that the ruling class has been corrupted by privilege. There’s too much money in politics; there’s too much of a cult of access; the tropes go on and on. Trump’s not saying that. Instead, he’s saying, the ruling class has been corrupted by foolishness. The problem isn’t that “the politicians” have vanished behind the velvet rope. It’s that they’ve vanished up their own rear ends. Obsessed with themselves, they have forgotten who they are. They have lost their way — and ours.

Hard as it is to stomach or say, that is a kind of wisdom so deep, so populist, and so potent that many conservatives can’t help but flutter toward it. Then again, neither can many moderate or liberal Republicans, which is why Trump performs well across all groups.

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“Trump spokesperson: some 9/11 hijackers trained in Florida, ‘under Jeb Bush’s watch to take down those towers'”