Donald Trump has made a series of assertions about 9/11 and George W. Bush that have sparked both criticism and, strangely, support. When examined chronologically though, it reveals Trump’s opinion has seemingly been revised multiple times for his own political advantage.
Last Friday, in an interview with Bloomberg TV, Trump was asked about his personal character. After bragging about how big a heart he has, the interview took a non sequitur turn.
“George Bush — and say what you want — the World Trade Center came down during his time,” he said. The interviewer then interjected that he couldn’t put that on Bush and Trump responded, “He was president, okay? Blame him or don’t blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign.”
Trump gave no other elaboration than this infantile, finger-pointing response.
Obviously, that sparked controversy. When reporters flanked Trump with questions about his remark that night at a campaign event, Trump gave no comment.
Instead of answering to the reporters, Trump finally gave some supposed context on his statement by angrily tweeting Jeb Bush that his brother did not, in fact, keep our country safe.
Donald Trump then hurled an insult at Jeb’s apparent lack of energy and presence, because he’s Donald Trump.
If this was Trump’s reasoning, why didn’t he say it earlier to the press? Given that Trump once said that Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly “had blood coming out of her … wherever,” it doesn’t seem that he has a problem speaking his mind.
Trump’s speech at a rally in South Carolina Monday night gave yet another version of his Bush administration critique, insisting that they knew of the potential threat.
“George Tenet, the CIA director, knew there would be an attack, and he said so to the president and said so to everybody else that would listen,” Trump said.
It’s true that George Tenet, along with other intelligence officers, suspected a possible attack and attempted to notify the Bush administration to no avail, but Trump’s wording makes it sound like the Bush administration knew exactly what was going to happen and refused to lift a finger.
“I’m not saying I would’ve prevented them, but I would’ve had a chance because I’m pretty good at this stuff,” Trump continued.
“I’m pretty good at this stuff” does not sound like something someone trained and experienced in handling sensitive international relations and potential terrorist crises would use to describe the situation.
Given the rare kernel of truth in Trump’s final draft of his 9/11 stance, some have said that Trump was right, revealing a difficult truth about the Bush administration. He made a vague, unsupported implication about a former president. He avoided official questioning until he had some sort of answer to validate his capricious statement.
Trump isn’t some purveyor of hard-to-swallow facts. He said what popped into his head and justified it ex post facto. This is Trump’s strategy. Upset some people by saying POW’s aren’t war heroes? Make veterans’ rights part of your platform. Trump seems to believe he can will his statements into truth, and his supporters seem to let him.