David Brooks does his best to make light of Jeb Bush bringing back the gang that brought us the invasion of Iraq as his foreign policy team. I hate to break it to Brooks, but Paul Wolfowitz is not the only troubling name on that list. "Safe" is the last word I'd use to describe how I'd feel if that gang is back at the helm.
Here's Bobo on this Friday's PBS Newshour telling the audience just that:
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, this is one we’re going to keep talking about.
But, Mark, while we’re on the subject of Islamic State, foreign policy, let’s talk 2016. Jeb Bush clearly running or seems to be clearly running for president, gave a major foreign policy speech this week. His team said he’s laying out how he thinks about it. How much is he constrained by his brother’s record on foreign policy?
MARK SHIELDS: Enormously. He probably would like to be the heir to his father’s, I think who has probably an admired foreign policy and respected foreign policy, the last president to go before the Congress and get support, go before the Security Council of the United Nations and get support and to do what he said he was going to do in the Persian Gulf War.
And it was a unequivocal American victory and a great coalition was assembled, the antithesis of his brother. Jeb Bush is basically saying, I’m Bush. I’m not my brother. It was a bumbling, fumbling introduction, Judy.
He wasn’t agile. He wasn’t comfortable with the subject. He’s fortunately running against two people, Scott Walker, who is a governor of Wisconsin, whose idea of foreign policy is beat Ohio State, and Chris Christie, whose trips to Chinatown and Little Italy have qualified him for foreign policy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Ooh.
MARK SHIELDS: I mean, no, they are total novices.
But it wasn’t an impressive debut. And it was marred not by announcing and emphasizing Jim Baker or Brent Scowcroft, revered advisers from earlier times are counseling him, but Paul Wolfowitz, the architect, advocate and engineer of the United States’ war against Iraq and really the leader of the weapons of mass destruction lobby, is in the front.
To me, that just a serious, serious mistake.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Not an impressive rollout?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, he definitely has a problem.
Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard had a piece on a poll they did. They asked Americans, does this candidate represent the future or the past? And Bush was heavily, he’s the past. And so he does have a big mountain to climb. Hillary Clinton, oddly, was 50 percent future, 48 percent past. So, even though she’s been around, people sort of think she’s — something new there.
MARK SHIELDS: Gender-intensive.
DAVID BROOKS: Exactly.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. And so Bush has this problem.
And I thought the speech — I wasn’t quite as underwhelmed as Mark. I don’t know how you rate underwhelmed-ness. But I do think it was sort of lacking in some of the innovation and substance, the willingness to take a risk and offer something new.
I think what’s heartening is that — we can have different views about Paul Wolfowitz. I think he’s a much more complicated character than sometimes he’s portrayed. But most of the people that Bush went to are people like Bob Zoellick, Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations. It was pretty much the A-team on the Republican side.
They’re very responsible. And we would feel safe with men and women like that at the helm. And so he’s like going right down the middle of Republican foreign policy, nothing too remarkable either way.