Yesterday the Democrats, always eager to find distractions from their failed domestic and foreign policies, seized on the Oregon shootings as an excuse to change the subject. In particular, they used that terrible crime to smear Jeb Bush. According to the Democrats, Bush blew off the Oregon shootings by saying “stuff happens.” The Democrats, as one, picked up on the meme. This tweet came from Debbie Wasserman-Schultz:
A message for Jeb Bush: 380 Americans have been killed in 294 mass shootings in 2015 alone. "Stuff" doesn't just "happen." Inaction happens.
— D Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) October 2, 2015
Her numbers are wrong, of course: they imply 1.3 fatalities per mass shooting event, while the FBI defines a mass shooting as one that results in four or more deaths. But never mind. President Obama was tossed this softball at his press conference, and reacted predictably:
So, what did Bush actually say? Here is the complete colloquy, as reported by the Washington Post:
Moderator: Now the question. The Second Amendment. This is South Carolina, I don’t want to say anything else beyond that, but I do want to read the Second Amendment. ‘A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.’ Do you think the Second Amendment bestows individual rights or rights of the militia?
BUSH: I think it bestows individual rights and I think that’s what, and it needs to be protected, and the best place to sort these issues out is the, at the state level. The federal government tries to create these one size fits all rules and it’s — look, South Carolina’s different than New York City. In Florida, when I was governor, I was the NRA stataesman of the year, one year it was on my highlight reel where Charlton Heston gave me a gun on the stage in front of 15,000 people, that was pretty cool to be honest with you. We, we have – in Florida we believe that concealed weapons permits is a, is a proper thing. We have 1.2 million concealed weapon holders, more than double the next state. We have right to carry, there are all sorts of rules that are appropriate for Florida may not be appropriate in other places, but the basic right is embedded in, it’s a personal right, I mean it’s an individual right to bear arms and that’s, that shouldn’t be infringed by either local, state or federal law for sure.
And this president – you know, the tendency when we have these tragedies that took place yesterday, it’s just heartbreaking to see these things, but this is the broader question of rule-making I think is an important point to make. That whenever you see a tragedy take place, the impulse in the political system, most, more often than at the federal level, but also at the state level, is to ‘do something,’ right? And what we end up doing lots of times is we create rules on the 99.999 percent of human activity that had nothing to do with the tragedy that forced the conversation about doing something. And we’re taking people’s rights away each time we do that, and we’re not necessarily focusing on the real challenge. So if we have people that are mentally ill, to the point where they go into the vortex and they don’t come out and they’re hateful, and they’re in isolation, and they kill people. The impulse in Washington is take personal rights away from the rest of us. And it won’t solve the problem of this tragedy that is just heartbreaking to see. Maybe we ought to be more connected in our communities. Maybe we ought to have greater awareness of the mental health challenges that exist all across this country. Maybe there’s a better way to deal with this than taking people’s human, you know, personal liberty away every time we, you know, kind of require people to do something.
Moderator: And I remember right after Columbine. And this is a long, long time ago I was listening to the radio, and they were talking about how schools you’re not allowed to have prayer vigils. But the second – being allowed to pray, I should say, or have, you know, Christian or Jewish or whatever faith-based groups on these public education schools. But then the guy said, you know it’s funny that you send a guy there with an Uzi or a handgun to shoot a bunch of people, the first thing they do after the tragedy –
BUSH: Of course.
Moderator:–prayer vigil, whatever the faith-based group is and always to say that you should do that on the front end, maybe you wouldn’t have these tragedies on the back end.
BUSH: Yeah, it’s, we’re in a difficult time in our country, and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this. I think we need to re-connect ourselves with everybody else, it’s just, it’s very sad to see. But I resist the notion – and I did, I had this, this challenge as governor, because we have, look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis, and the impulse is always to do something, and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.
That is Bush’s supposedly insensitive response in full. But the Democrats are great at pulling two words out of an extended and entirely appropriate colloquy and turning them into a smear, as though that were the whole, or the essence, of Bush’s reaction to the Oregon murders. Shameful? Yes, but it beats the heck out of answering questions on Syria or the economy.