The parallels are hard to miss.
I notice that in the press, the words “war” and “Iran” are picking up momentum. It is hard to read the news on any day and not see a headline about a bellicose warning from some Trump Administration official to Iran to be nice, or else.
Here is a sample of headlines on Politico just yesterday:
Tom Cotton wants to bomb Iran, and he has Trump’s ear
What Trump Can Learn From Reagan About War With Iran
Top U.S. general warns Iran to steer clear of U.S. interests
Trump prepares to bypass Congress to take on Iran
And those headlines don’t even touch the concerns over attacks on oil freighters in the waters around Iran. Or the fact that Iran shot down an American drone. As I peruse the news, I see that some are calling “false flag” on the accusations Trump has made against Iran. This could be the “yellow cake” moment of the Trump Administration.
Yellow cake? You mean like Bush Administration yellow cake? Yes.
I see definite parallels between Bush and Trump here. It’s odd that when I search for polling parallels between Bush and Trump, the sources I find, talk about George H. W. Bush, the father to the other President Bush, George W. Bush. I have yet to see any sources drawing comparisons between Trump and Bush II in the way that I’m about to do here.
The parallel I’m trying to draw here is that George W. Bush initiated war with Iraq in 2003 for the purpose of ensuring his re-election in 2004. Polling showed that his popularity soared after 9/11, and declined until he went to war with Iraq. Then it spiked again after starting the war. From there, he handily won the GOP nomination and won the general election by a very slim margin.
Trump’s approval ratings are not great and have been relatively flat during his entire time in office. However, it’s clear that there are at least five Democratic candidates for nomination that are polling better than Trump. And all of them are polling better than the margin of error against Trump.
As I see the war rhetoric ramp up, I hear these words in my head, “You wouldn’t want to trade horses in the middle of a war, now, would you?” That was what I heard from the Bush campaign in 2003 and 2004. The war with Iraq virtually ensured Bush’s re-election, and it seems like the Trump re-election campaign is pursuing the same strategy.
War with Iran seems to poll well with the Trump base, too. The same people who chant “Lock Her Up!” are also the same people who want to see war with Iran. Their memories must be dull because they don’t seem to be thinking of the carnage we wrought upon Iraq in a long and bloody war. A million people died in that war, and most of them were civilians. I remember the torso swinging from a utility wire, and the gruesome and horrific attacks perpetrated by both sides. If we get into a war with Iran, it won’t just be with Iran, for we aren’t the only country with geopolitical interests there.
John Bolton, Tom Cotton, Mike Pompeo, are all salivating at the prospect of putting a few more Muslims in the dirt. And they all have the ear of Trump.
So when I see talk of war, I see a president meandering in the polls, watching his policies slowly tank what was a strong economy, his budget and trade deficit explode, and his only defenders checking on their lear jets pointed at New Zealand.
I have also seen some talk that neither side wants a war. But that got sidelined really quick when Iran shot down the drone. I don’t want a war with Iran. I doubt that very many other people do, too. I don’t see any other countries chiming in that they want to send their young men and women to fight in a hot desert over oil and ideology. I think we’d all like to see Christmas this year, together.
But if Trump is really that worried about getting re-elected, I would not be surprised to see him pull a stunt like starting a war just to stay in the White House. War with Iran offers him the red meat he needs to energize his base and get them to the polls. And we can thank George W. Bush for setting the precedent for this president.