Last night, Donald Trump repeated his claim that “I’m the only one on the stage that said we should not go into Iraq.” As I’ve pointed out before, however, there is no credible evidence that Trump said any such thing.
Trump had plenty to say about the Iraq invasion after it had taken place. In the early days, when it wasn’t going well, he called the invasion a mess. But we at Power Line made the same observation. This doesn’t amount to opposing the invasion.
Trump voiced public opposition to the war for the first time (so far anyone has been able to confirm) in the summer of 2004 during an interview with Esquire, an interview with Larry King, and an article by Reuters. By then, as I noted in the post linked to above, he was following a fairly large pack. Nor, as I explained, was Trump’s analysis at that time particularly cogent.
In any event, opposing our actions in Iraq once they went pear-shaped is just Monday morning quarterbacking — a Trump specialty. It’s not the same thing as opposing the invasion, and it doesn’t establish that Trump is insightful about foreign policy.
There actually was a candidate on stage last night who credibly can claim to have been against invading Iraq. That candidate is Ben Carson. The doctor says he sent a letter to President Bush advising him not to go to war in Iraq. If so, and I take him at his word, then he went on record and can take whatever credit he might deserve for his stand.
This morning on Meet the Press, Chuck Todd pressed Trump as why there is nothing in the public record to support Trump’s claim that he opposed the invasion. Trump responded:
So people didn’t write everything I said, I was a businessperson. I was, as they say, a world-class businessperson. I built a great company, I employ thousands of people.
But Trump wasn’t a politician when he made his after-the-fact denunciation of the war. It nonetheless found its way into the press. So have many other utterances — mostly liberal ones — he made about politics and public policy throughout the first decade of this century, as he was operating his “world-class” business.
If Trump had publicly advocated not invading Iraq, this too would have found its way into the public domain. Very few private citizens of Trump’s prominence were speaking out against an invasion before it occurred. Any suggestion by him that we should forebear undoubtedly would have been picked up by a media hungry for controversy.
I’m surprised no one called the big phony on this last night.