Hardball | March 12, 2013
>>> i don't think there's any bush baggage at all. i love my brother. i love my brother. i'm proud of his accomplishments.
>> hear that noup hear this. there is no bush baggage. jeb bush denying there's bush baggage. he says he's proud of his brother's -- this is going to kill him -- accomplishments. there are a lot of accomplishments to choose from. starting a war an false pretenses with a country that had nothing to do with 9 /11. when president bush made a surprise visit to iraq in 2008 , an iraqi journalist showed bush how thankful that country was for our input.
>> anyway, then there's the budget surplus bush w. left and inherited and squandered by the way that big surplus and gave us the bush tax cuts which mainly benefited the rich and added $1 $1.7 trillion to the federal debt , and then it was bush's passive response to the devastation of katrina when he finally engaged, by the way, he thanked the guy overseeing the screwup this way.
>> i want to thank you all for -- and brownie, you're doing a heck of a job. fema director is working 24 -- [ applause ] they're working 24 hours a day .
>> poor michael brown , he didn't even think he, himself, had done a good job. the next republican presidential candidate , however, for 2016 is going to have to further than just distancing himself from w. like mccain and romney tried to do. they'll have to repudiate bush on many of them. no easy feat when your last name is bush, the brother. wayne slater, senior political writer for the "dallas morning news" and co-author of the book "bush's brain." let me go to peter , you always arouse my interest, peter . you always hit on something very smart. they always like to say, you'll notice my name is on the ballot, not george w. bush 's, that old dodge. you don't think that's good enough.
>> certainly not if your last name is the same as the guy who was president. i mean, if you try to distance yourself from your brother then you look like a jerk. but distancing yourself from george w. bush more aggressively than john mccain or mitt romney was able to do i think is going to be truly crucial for any serious republican candidate in 2016 because bush is the guy who destroyed the republican brand. if you look at the polls, the polls, the republican party 's doing okay including with young people when bush comes into office. by the time he leaves, the republican party is dead in the water , especially among the young and it has not recovered. just as bill clinton distanced himself from jimmy carter , because carter hurt the democratic brand, a republican is going to have to seriously distance himself in whays people understand.
>> wayne , when do you think the convention is going to be? will it be in our lifetime when we see george w. up on that podium? are they ever going to show his face again yet alone have somebody run as his brother? let me two bago back to the brother problem. i like jeb bush . he has a catch 22. if he gets caught saying, i'm not my brother, he knocks his brother. if he says, i don't agree with the war in iraq , he's really knocking him. if he says he screwed up when clinton left him a budget surplus , he's really nailed p eed him. he's out there the last several days saying, i like my brother's accomplishments. what are those accomplishments?
>> look, peter is exactly right on this. the next republican nominee wannabe is going to have to be an anti-bush platform. however soft or hard you want to do that. fundamentally, there's even a bigger problem for jeb bush . it's not only, as peter said, that jeb is not likely to want to say, i don't love my brother, i don't agree with my brother, i want to distance myself very explicitly from my brother. it is he fundamentally can't distance himself from something that's even deeper than that, and there has grown up in the republican party across the board a deep sense of unreliability. that is to say, the father 41 came in as a social and fiscal -- i say fiscal conservative , but, read my lips . the son came in as a social conservative , many social conservatives , you talk today with them, they say, what did he deliver for us? fiscal conservatives, obviously spending and deficits is our problem. fundamentally, i had dinner the other night with the two very significant social conservative leaders who said they're coming around to the view. now, these are very strong republican conservatives coming around to the view that the bush administration mismanaged the war. this is a --
>> -- across the board in party.
>> what a dodge that is. i got to tell you, wayne . mismanaged? they went to war on false pretenses that they didn't even believe were the reasons they went to war. if you get them and get cheney, you waterboard cheney, he ain't going to say weapons of mass destruction . he's going to say, i wanted to get iraq and i saw my chance.
>> what i'm saying is, these guys in this crucial part of the republican base, these aren't democrats, these aren't independents. tease aren't progressives. these aren't moderates. these are very strong social conservative republicans and they're saying exactly that. why in the heck did we go to war?
>> yeah. here's george w. bush 's iraq war , of course, it's his biggest blot on his presidency, i think, and the ten-year anniversary of that starting this next week. with time, even more has been revealed about the false pretenses . i didn't believe in the pretense or lack of reality. here's the clip from the great documentary we've had on the air on msnbc called "hubris."
>> the days of iraq acting as an outlaw state are coming to an end.
>> powell walked into my office and without so much as a farewell, he walked over to the window and said, i wonder what happened when we put 500,000 troops into iraq and comb the country from one end to the other and find nothing? he turned around and walked back in his office. i wrote that down on my calendar, as close to verbatim as i could. i thought that was a profound statement coming from the secretary of state, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff .
>> peter , back to your brilliant thought in your piece. do you think there's teany way if you were a brilliant consultant, any way to advise jeb to squirm around his brother?
>> to. no. i think it's impossible. what the republican party needs is what chris christie is doing, a guy willing to pick fights with those in the republican party . people in the republican party , and those issues in the republican party .
>> teachers unions.
>> that are destroying the public party. you can't squirm through this. you have to basically do what the democrats did in late 1980s . go frontally into the idea your party is going to have a civil war and when people outside your party see you're willing to take on the dick cheneys of the world, then they'll look at you in a different light.
>> wow, do you agree with that, wayne ? i was thinking back to the time of the democrats in '68. it was civil rights . they naught it withfought it within the democratic party . the war issue of vietnam, they fought it within the democratic party . they got hurt for it. take on these big fights to get to the soul of the party?
>> yeah. fundamentally the only way jeb bush can succeed in this kind of milieu is that he doesn't disassociate himself with his brother but fundamentally is seen in the end as the only guy who can beat the democrats down the road. if a christie or others emerge as more likely or as likely to win, then you're exactly right, i agree with that.
>> who would you like to have if you had to raise money somewhere in the united states ? which republican would you like to have at your dinner podium? you start, peter . you want to raise $1 million one night. who's the best bet to bring in and get the people excited an that person being there that night?
>> the only person who's developed an independent brand in which democrats and independents, even some democrats look at him as separate from the republican party , is chris christie . because he's the guy who has the reputation as his own man. nobody else , yet. maybe interestingly rand paul. rand paul may be developing that reputation as well. you may not always agree with him, but you know he follows the internal drummer, not what the party establishment says. that's where the gop has to go.
>> i don't think people would stop at starbucks to hear him talk. your thought, wayne ? no one is going to pay $100,000 to hear a libertarian park.
>> i still think jeb bush is despite all his problems, but if i wanted to gather a dinner party together of real rich billionaires and millionaires, i would bring ben carson , not because ben carson , the pediatric neurosurgeon from johns hopkins , not because he's going to be the nominee, because if you really talk to sort of social and fiscal conservative folks in the republican party , they like it that this guy has upstaged obama on a republican agenda.
>> he's a very bright, good man. anyway, thank you so much, peter breinart, and thank you, wayne slater. i think we have a tough bakeoff coming between jeb and chris christie .
>>> up next, she's got the airwaves at fox news channel . used to. that's not stopping sarah palin from speaking her mind. she's talking about people who work hard. what does she do for a living? i keep asking. what's her job? this is "hardball," the place for politics. [ male