Trump does seem to understand that the Bush way of dealing with the Middle East and the American homeland, especially as it pertains to Iraq and immigration, went horribly wrong. And while some of his alternatives may be equally flawed in the opposite direction, it does add some needed perspective to the conservative movement’s consternation about Trump’s pre-Iowa poll numbers. Indeed, while I agree with virtually every word of National Review’s anti-Trump symposium, it’s hard to suppress the sense that conservatives who mostly thought the Bush administration was wonderful are getting a taste of the dismay I felt during those years.
“Where was this unified conservative outrage over the bank bailout in 2008?” asked the columnist Charlie Hurt. “Where is the unified conservative outrage over launching a trillion-plus dollar war paid for with nothing but debt, where is the outrage over Republican politicians who come along and supported amnesty?”
Where indeed. As it happens, Rubio was a bit better on that bank bailout than Trump. But on the other two issues? When Jeb Bush was getting beaten up for refusing to concede the Iraq war was a mistake, Rubio said he wouldn’t have invaded knowing there were no weapons of mass destruction. But he’s made more public statements suggesting he thinks withdrawing from Iraq was a bigger error than invading in the first place and he’s been supportive of repeating the regime change experiment in Libya and Syria.
Similarly, Rubio has disavowed his Gang of Eight immigration plan, arguing that the threat of ISIS entering the United States has changed everything. But the immigration system’s national security implications were evident long before he took his earlier position in 2013. And when he says we have been trying to solve our country’s immigration problem for 30 years, he omits the fact that amnesty passed 30 years ago.