Donald Trump is fond of using Democratic talking points. This isn’t surprising. Not that long ago, he admitted to being more of a Democrat than a Republican on the issues.
Among other Democratic talking points, Trump has erroneously blamed Republicans for the recession of 2008 and criticized Scott Walker for not raising taxes while parroting Democratic claims that Wisconsin has a $2.2 billion deficit. And I’m not even counting Trump’s liberal positions on substantive issues ranging from taxes to health care to planned parenthood.
I’m going to call Trump’s latest talking point “Democratic” even though it probably goes beyond what most Dems are publicly saying these days. Trump wants to blame President Bush for 9/11. According to the Washington Post, Trump had this to say during a telephone interview over the weekend:
You always have to look to the person at the top. Do I blame George Bush [for 9/11]? I only say that he was the president at the time, and you know, you could say the buck stops here.
That’s a cagey “yes,” Trump does blame President Bush for 9/11. (I’ll discuss his weak subsequent disclaimers below.)
In blaming Bush, Trump didn’t just rely on the cliche that “the buck stops here,” he pointed to immigration policy. According to the Post, Trump complained that “we had very weak immigration laws,” adding that perhaps if Bush had had a Trump-style immigration policy, replete with “the strong laws that I’m wanting, these terrorists wouldn’t have been in the country.”
Trump’s theory is baseless. Put to one side the fact that “the strong laws that [Trump’s] wanting” could never have been enacted in 2001 when Democrats controlled Congress (or now, for that matter). The key point, as Rick Moran at PJ Media highlights, is that all 19 hijackers entered the country legally on authentic visas, and 16 of them were here legally as of 9/11.
Would Donald Trump’s “tough” policies have succeeded in rounding up the three 9/11 terrorists whose visas had expired? It’s fanciful to assume so. But even if they had, al Qaeda could easily have recruited three other fanatics who were legally here. As the Center for Immigration Studies (the most effective immigration reduction advocacy organization I know of) pointed out in 2002, prior to 9/11 most foreign terrorists operating in the U.S. were here legally.
In addition to citing immigration policy, Trump noted that key U.S. intelligence agencies weren’t sufficiently communicating with each other, and he mentioned concerns expressed by CIA head George Tenet about an imminent attack.
It’s easy, after the fact, to say that Bush should have seen the attack coming, and one can always say that more should have been done. But this kind of second-guessing of 9/11 has always been the province of Democrats, not Republicans. And, as I noted, even Democrats have basically stopped doing it 14 years after the fact.
Trump, as is his wont, went on to hedge on the question of Bush’s blame. During the phone interview, after listing all the things he thinks Bush did wrong, Trump said “I don’t blame anybody.” And today on Fox News Sunday, after absurdly declaring “I believe that if I were running things, I doubt [the 9/11 terrorists] would have been in the country,” Trump stated:
With that being said, I’m not blaming George Bush. But I don’t want Jeb Bush saying, ‘My brother kept us safe,’ because Sept. 11 was one of the worst days in the history of this country.”
We’ve seen this before from Trump — recall the flap over John McCain’s war heroism, for example. First, he slanders a leading Republican. Then, if the Republican in question isn’t a direct opponent in this election, he backs off but not fully.
Do Republicans want four to eight years of this venomous clown in the White House? Do they believe the American electorate as a whole will consent to it? I don’t.