Jeb Bush would like you to believe that George Bush became president on 9/12/01

During last night’s debate, Jeb Bush’s biggest applause line was also his most head-deskingly bold-faced lie:

In response to Donald Trump claiming (not wrongly) that George Bush’s presidency was so bad that it all but guaranteed President Obama’s victory in 2008, Bush said, “You know what? As it relates to my brother, there’s one thing I know for sure: He kept us safe…Do you remember the rubble? Do you remember the firefighter with his arm around him?”

The crowd went nuts, journalists tore their hair out and, today, Jeb doubled down:

There it is: George Bush keeping us safe from that time that he didn’t keep us safe.

Jebya is apparently unbothered by the fact that the rubble he’s referring to was the result of an attack that happened on his brother’s watch. Or maybe he doesn’t remember. Or maybe he thinks someone else was president.

The “Bush kept us safe” meme a lie the neocons have been spitting out ever since the attacks, and it’s a lie that Republicans consider a science FACT. So much so that Public Policy Polling is going to ask Republican primary voters who they think was president on September 11th, 2001. There’s a legitimate chance that a large number of them say someone other than George W. Bush.

But maybe not, claim isn’t premised on George Bush taking office on September 12th, 2001 — as much as that’s what it implies. The claim is based on the dual premises that a) no one saw 9/11 coming, so it isn’t anyone’s fault (or maybe it’s Bill Clinton’s?) and that b) Bush put America’s boot up so many asses after 9/11 that no one dared attack us ever again.

Neither of these premises are close to being valid. First, we absolutely did have reason to believe that an attack was on the way. Sure, you could make a bad argument that since lower-level analysts were told to “hold off” on sending intelligence about the eventual hijackers up the chain of command, this oversight isn’t George Bush’s “fault.” That would, of course, leave aside all of the times that warnings did make it up the chain of command and were ignored all the same. Either way, you can’t say that the attacks didn’t happen under his watch. They did.

Second, and more directly addressing the “after 9/11” asterisk at the core of Jeb, et al’s claim, George W. Bush did not keep Americans safe after 9/11 by conservatives own definition of the term. Mad about four Americans dying in the Benghazi attacks? Think they validate the claim that President Obama hasn’t “kept us safe”? Here’s a list of 39 attacks on US embassies or embassy personnel, 20 of which resulted in at least one fatality, resulting in a total of 87 deaths (24 were American), all of which took place between September 11th, 2001 and the end of the Bush 43 presidency.

All of this ignores the many other ways in which President Bush did the exact opposite of keeping us safe. Like that time everyone told him to evacuate New Orleans because a massive hurricane was going to drown a ton of people and his first response was basically “Nah, because states rights.

Heckuva a job, Jebbie.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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