Donald Trump utters plenty of ugly untruths: that undocumented Mexican immigrants are “rapists,” that Syrian refugees are committing “all sorts of attacks” in Germany and represent a “Trojan Horse” for ISIS. But he tells ugly truths too: that “when you give [politicians money], they do whatever the hell you want them to do.” And that “the Middle East would be safer” if Saddam Hussein and Muammer Qaddafi were still in power.
His latest ugly truth came during a Bloomberg TV interview last Friday, when he said George W. Bush deserves responsibility for the fact that “the World Trade Center came down during his time.” Politicians and journalists erupted in indignation. Jeb Bush called Trump’s comments “pathetic.” Ben Carson dubbed them “ridiculous.”
Former Bush flack Ari Fleischer called Trump a 9/11 “truther.” Even Stephanie Ruhle, the Bloomberg anchor who asked the question, cried, “Hold on, you can’t blame George Bush for that.”
Oh yes, you can. There’s no way of knowing for sure if Bush could have stopped the September 11 attacks. But that’s not the right question. The right question is: Did Bush do everything he could reasonably have to stop them, given what he knew at the time? And he didn’t. It’s not even close.