Trump Thinks Hillary Has Bad Judgment for Supporting the Iraq War, But Mike Pence Doesn't

No wonder GOP voters are so angry and confused.
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No wonder GOP voters are so angry and confused.

For the last eight years, we've witnessed a Republican Party that's taken an opposite-day "I know you are but what am I?" approach to the issues. 

More specifically, the GOP has decided that it's more electorally advantageous to simply oppose everything the Obama administration and the congressional Democrats support, rather than proposing rational, workable positions and combining those ideas into a realistic agenda. The consequences of this posture include the most obvious one: that the GOP has routinely attacked positions that were once resoundingly supported by their own party.

How many times have the congressional Republicans voted to overturn or de-fund Obamacare? More than 50 times. How much of Obamacare was originally proposed by Republicans like Bob Dole and Chuck Grassley in the 1990s? Most of it. 

Meanwhile, Republican officials in Cleveland have banned firearms from the convention hall despite the party's across-the-board support for both open carry laws and the ludicrous notion that good guys with guns will always thwart bad guys with guns. Say nothing of the "shall not be infringed" yokels who think gun ownership is a sacred right that allows us to carry in churches, shopping malls and National Parks. But not the convention. Because of safety.

And now, with Trump as the would-be nominee, the Iraq War -- perhaps the most decisive and central policy decision by the GOP establishment in the last 30 years -- has become yet another of these opposite-day issues. 

As we all know, Trump said he was, and still is opposed to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. "I was against the war in Iraq from the beginning," he said on Sunday night's 60 Minutes. He also said that Hillary Clinton's judgment can't be trusted because she voted for the use-of-force resolution that led to the invasion.

Just to recap:

Trump -- against the Iraq War, and therefore has great judgment.

Hillary -- for the Iraq War, has bad judgment.

And then Trump selected Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his vice presidential running-mate. Mike Pence, it turns out, also voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iraq when he was a member of Congress.

So, here's scorecard again.

Trump -- against the Iraq War, and therefore has great judgment.

Hillary -- for the Iraq War, has bad judgment.

Mike Pence -- for the Iraq War, totally has great judgment, too.

Fortunately, Lesley Stahl pressed Trump on this contradiction during his 60 Minutes appearance (with Pence at his side).

TRUMP: But I was against the war in Iraq from the beginning.

STAHL: Yeah, but you've used that vote of Hillary's that was the same as Governor Pence as the example of her bad judgment.

TRUMP: Many people have, and frankly, I'm one of the few that was right on Iraq.

STAHL: Yeah, but what about he--

TRUMP: He's entitled to make a mistake every once in a while.

STAHL: But she's not? OK, come on--

TRUMP: But she's not--

STAHL: She's not?

TRUMP: No. She's not.

STAHL: Got it.

Yeah. Got it.

No wonder Republican voters have smoke billowing from all their orifices. They're being told contradictory things by the same people, and they're expected to repeat those things to their friends and neighbors without being relentlessly mocked for their obvious Mobius Loops of gibberish.

So here we have the signature foreign policy decision of the Bush years. A decision which, if you disagreed, you were summarily tarred as having hated America and/or the Baby Jesus. Careers were ended because [fill in the blank] opposed the Iraq War. To this day, Republicans including Donald Trump continue to blame President Obama for the rise of ISIS, which, they say, occurred because Obama followed-through with the late-2008 plan to withdraw our troops from that theater.

Here's the reality of what Trump voters are trying to negotiate within their walnut-brains.

1) George W. Bush and the GOP launched the Irag War with massive public support.

2) George W. Bush signed the status-of-forces agreement in 2008 to end the Iraq War.

3) Obama honored Bush's status-of-forces agreement and withdrew all combat troops, some of which were reintroduced to fight ISIS.

4) Hillary Clinton voted in support of Bush's authority to invade.

5) So did Mike Pence.

6) Trump opposed the Iraq War (allegedly) but blames Hillary's bad judgment for the war, even though it was almost exclusively a GOP policy choice -- one which enjoyed overwhelming popular support from GOP voters through and including the 2008 election.

7) Trump chooses Mike Pence as his running-mate.

8) Trump declares that it's okay to make a mistake once-in-a-while -- except for Hillary.

If you happen to be watching the chaos at the Republican National Convention, and if you're wondering why everything in Cleveland is such a phenomenal mess, this might be why. Republican voters are expected to reconcile Trump's opposition to the war with Pence's support for the war, while condemning Obama's withdrawal from Iraq, while also condemning Hillary's support for the war even though nearly every Republican voter stood by Bush's strategy to invade and remain in country, despite the reality that it was Bush who signed the treaty to withdraw.

If they weren't so dangerous to the prosperity of the republic, I'd actually feel a little sorry for the inchoate madness being suffered by Trump voters. But they don't deserve anyone's pity. They built this, and now they're expected to campaign for their guy by repeating this political iteration of an M.C. Escher painting by way of Hieronymus Bosch.