Jeb’s Fun Moment in Reno

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May 13, 2015 10:24 p.m.

Governor Bush has a fun moment in Reno …

“Your brother created ISIS,” the young woman told Jeb Bush. And with that, Ivy Ziedrich, a 19-year-old college student, created the kind of confrontational moment here on Wednesday morning that presidential candidates dread.

Mr. Bush, the former governor of Florida, had just concluded a town-hall-style meeting when Ms. Ziedrich demanded to be heard. “Governor Bush,” she shouted as audience members asked him for his autograph. “Would you take a student question?”

Then Ms. Ziedrich asked: “Why are you saying that ISIS was created by us not having a presence in the Middle East when it’s pointless wars where we send young American men to die for the idea of American exceptionalism? Why are you spouting nationalist rhetoric to get us involved in more wars?”

Mr. Bush replied: “We respectfully disagree. We have a disagreement. When we left Iraq, security had been arranged, Al Qaeda had been taken out. There was a fragile system that could have been brought up to eliminate the sectarian violence.”

Read the rest of Michael Barbaro’s write up here.

These moments pop up in campaigns. Sometimes they are more contrived than others. Who knows what this woman’s precise motivations were. But it’s sort of beside the point. Bush is uniquely vulnerable to this not simply because he’s President Bush’s brother but even more because both in spite of and because of that connection he is unable to come to grips with the signature event of his brother’s presidency.

So he’s gone, over a couple days, from saying that after everything that’s happened in the last dozen years he’d invade Iraq all over again, to saying “mistakes were made” and it’s complicated, to saying now that he won’t answer the question because it wouldn’t be fair to the troops.

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He radiates pain and awkwardness, which makes and will make every episode like this a spectacle.

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