During the second Republican debate of this presidential election season, Florida governor Jeb Bush contended that President George W. Bush kept America safe during his time in office. While he was trying to defend his beloved brother against attacks by fellow candidate Donald Trump, many were outraged by the governor’s remarks.
He invoked Bush’s response to 9/11 in his answer, but many friends and relatives of victims of that day’s infamous terrorist attacks pointed out that George W. Bush was president prior to 9/11 and could perhaps have stopped the attacks from happening. In fact, Bush received explicit warnings from the National Security Agency about the potential for just such an event, but he refused to read the briefing.
Even if Bush could not have prevented 9/11, his response to it hardly kept Americans safe. Instead, thousands of Americans died in Afghanistan and Iraq as a result of his decision to invade. Furthermore, this war deepened the motivation for many in the Middle East to attack America.
Another major criticism of Bush’s safety record came in the form of reminders about Hurricane Katrina. The death toll from that hurricane that hit New Orleans especially hard in 2005 was horrific. While much of the structural damage was unavoidable, the slow response to the impending hurricane cost many human lives.
While Jeb Bush’s sense of familial loyalty is understandable, that doesn’t give him the right to whitewash the darker side of his brother’s presidency, which left America deeply vulnerable.