After that awkward, difficult week in May when Jeb Bush offered four different answers to the question of whether or not the Iraq War was a mistake, the Republican presidential candidate seemed to have smoothed it all out. During the first debate, he joked with Fox News’s Megyn Kelly about the stumble, then offered that “knowing what we know now, with faulty intelligence” he would not have launched the 2003 invasion — pivoting neatly to a critique of the current administration’s failures.
But this week, in Iowa, Bush appeared to be walking back down that tricky path. On Thursday, Bush said that ousting Saddam Hussein “turned out to be a pretty good deal,” and that when his brother left office in 2009, the “mission was accomplished in the way that there was security there.” On Friday morning, he noted that Paul Wolfowitz was “providing some advice” to him. It’s something he’s noted before, mind you, but Wolfowitz, thanks in part to “Fahrenheit 9/11”, holds a particularly tricky position in the public perception of the war’s beginning.
So what’s going on? Are these more “Bush kept talking when he shouldn’t have” stumbles?
There’s a good chance that they’re not. There hasn’t been a lot of recent polling on the public perception of the Iraq War, but there has been some. And that polling suggests that — especially in a Republican primary election — the war is not the toxic topic that it was in 2008.