Former President George W. Bush made headlines this weekend when remarks he made at a closed-door meeting were made public, and appeared to violate his pledge not to criticize his successor in the White House. In a meeting with about 700 Republican donors, President Bush made several criticisms of President Obama’s handling of foreign policy, including the Iran nuclear deal, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2011 (for which Bush signed an agreement in 2008), and the fight against ISIS:
He defended his own administration’s handling of terrorism, noting that the terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who confessed to killing Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was captured on his watch: “Just remember the guy who slit Danny Pearl’s throat is in Gitmo, and now they’re doing it on TV.”
Obama promised to degrade and destroy Islamic State’s forces but then didn’t develop a strategy to complete the mission, Bush said. He said that if you have a military goal and you mean it, “you call in your military and say ‘What’s your plan?’” He indirectly touted his own decision to surge troops to Iraq in 2007, by saying, “When the plan wasn’t working in Iraq, we changed.”
“In order to be an effective president … when you say something you have to mean it,” he said. “You gotta kill em.”
At Monday’s White House daily briefing, Fox News reporter James Rosen pressed White House spokesman Josh Earnest for reaction to the quotes. Earnest generously allowed that the former president believed his remarks were not for public consumption, and hadn’t violated his promise. He also pointed out that ISIS grew out of al Qaeda, a group that was not in Iraq prior to President Bush’s invasion of that country. “The fact that President Bush has a different perspective and a different philosophy when it comes to foreign policy isn’t just a well-known difference,” Earnest told Rosen, “in the minds of many people, it’s a principal reason President Obama’s sitting in the Oval Office right now.”
Rosen saw Earnest’s “Obama won, twice,” and raised him, giving the White House spokesman a Fox News history lesson:
“But how do you reckon with the historical fact that al Qaeda in Iraq was effectively vanquished by the time the Bush-Cheney administration left office, and it has been on President Obama’s watch that we have ISIS, the people that are beheading people on TV?”
Someone really needs to let everyone at Fox News know that hostages were beheaded on video during the Bush administration, even right at the very end. You can add that to the long list of things that Fox News personalities need to be reminded of.