I’m always up for a good Jeb-stomp, but I’d feel weird going hard after him on this after giving Trump a pass on this mindbender from yesterday:
“I predicted Osama bin Laden,” Mr. Trump declared in Knoxville, adding, “In my book, I predicted terrorism. Because I can feel it, like I feel a good location, O.K.?”…
Mr. Trump said he would like to “build a safe zone in Syria, build a big, beautiful safe zone, and you have whatever it is, so they can live.” He could get such a deal with his real estate background for a “swatch” of land, he said.
Keep me updated on how the plan for a carved-out Trumpistan in Syria is going. As for Jeb, offhand I can’t think of another prominent Republican who’s opposed halting refugee admissions from Syria in the past 24 hours, albeit if only on a temporary basis. (Even Chuck Schumer(!) is open to a “pause” on admitting refugees.) In fact, once the quote in the headline above began circulating on social media, his advisors pounced with a “clarification” that pretty much walks back the entire idea:
Jeb aide clarifies on Syria refugees: "he wouldn't 'ban' them, but if there's concern about screening we shdn't allow any in. and there is."
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) November 17, 2015
So: No to a ban in theory but yes to a ban in practice so long as there’s any doubt about our ability to screen refugees. In other words, yes to a ban indefinitely. The obvious follow-up to that is to ask what would Bush want to see in the screening process to give him confidence that it’ll weed out jihadis so that the ban can be lifted. Does he really think the process is flawed or is that just the peg he’s hanging his ban on? And another follow-up: If Bush wants to give priority to Christian and other non-Muslim refugees because, as religious minorities, they’re in dire peril in the Middle East, how we should handle the fact that Shiites are in pretty dire peril in areas controlled by ISIS while Sunnis are in dire peril in areas controlled by Assad? It’s widely assumed that if one side finally routs the other that sectarian cleansing will follow in the newly conquered territory. If ISIS overruns Assad, do we expedite the refugee process either in the U.S. or Europe for Alawites?
Then there’s this problem:
He’s right that the ultimate answer to the refugee crisis lies in making Syria safe for peaceful habitation again, but that’s like saying the ultimate answer to illegal immigration lies in making Mexico more attractive to job-seekers. It’s obviously true, but identifying the problem isn’t the difficulty; the difficulty is the sheer scale of the task. If anything, Putin’s entry into the war on Assad’s side gives every reason to think fighting will rage on for years: The probability that ISIS and other Sunni rebel grounds would depose a crumbling Assad regime used to be greater than the probability of an isolated regime somehow gathering strength after so many years at war and rampaging through fanatic Salafi redoubts. Now that Iran and Russia have reinforced Assad, the fight is more of a stalemate. Refugees will keep coming, including minority Muslim sects on both sides. What then?
Exit quotation from Jeb: “Come December 15, Trump will be in decline.” Anyone want to place any wagers on that? Click the image below to watch his comments on refugees.