Profile in Political Cowardice? Jeb Bush Says ‘I Don’t Know What Was On The Mind’ Of Charleston Shooter
While Republicans and Fox News seem to be grappling for ways not to call the massacre of 9 people by 21-year-old Dylann Roof at a historical black church in South Carolina racism (read Ana Marie Cox) the most embarrassing response — which I’m predicting will rule him out completely in the eyes of a good chunk of non-conservative voters — comes from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Bush seems to be twisting himself into a rhetorical pretzel in trying not to DIRECTLY call the murders racially motivated hate crimes or domestic terrorism. If anything, he’s coming across like President Bill Clinton being interviewed by lawyers during the Monica Lewinsky scandal saying it depends on what the meaning of the word is is.
Bush is seemingly trying to ignore or downplay a slew of stories that indicate that Roof made it clear he wanted to kill all but one person (to remain as a witness) in the church because they were black. Bush is also seemingly ignoring the latest story — which confirms earlier details about Roof’s motivation — but expect Bush to try to paper over his response so far because it reeks of someone fearful of losing votes by people who might not like him calling it racial hate crimes. The latest via CNN:
Dylann Roof admits he did it, two law enforcement officials said — shooting and killing nine people he’d sat with for Bible study at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina.
But why? To start a race war.
That’s what Roof told investigators, according to one of the officials.
CNN’s Evan Perez and Wesley Bruer were the first to report Roof’s confession. Others earlier gave a glimpse into his twisted motivation — including at the time and site of the shooting, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. There, a survivor told Sylvia Johnson that Roof answered one man’s pleas to stop by saying, “No, you’ve raped our women, and you are taking over the country … I have to do what I have to do.”
Bush has had a bad week, unless you consider it a great week for his positioning himself to be a talk show fill in host, rather than be perceived as a serious, thoughtful contender for President. First, he made headlines for, in effect, telling Pope Francis to shut up on climate change. And now there’s this:
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said Friday that he isn’t sure what motivated a young white man to walk into a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, Wednesday night and kill nine people.
“I don’t know what was on the mind or the heart of the man who committed these atrocious crimes,” the former Florida governor said at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference.
The shooter, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, was crystal clear about his motive: He reportedly announced he was there to kill black people, saying at the church, “You rape our women, and you’re taking over the country. And you have to go.”
In a Facebook picture, Roof sported patches on his jacket representing Rhodesia, a former apartheid state in East Africa, and apartheid-era South Africa. He also reportedly told his roommate he was planning to ignite a civil war.
But, hey, you’re trying to read Roof’s mind if you conclude anything from that:
Bush’s spokesman, Tim Miller, responded on Twitter to criticism of Bush’s comments, telling reporters Friday that “of course” Bush believes the attack was racially motivated.
But when the Huffington Post contacted Bush himself to get a more specific response, guess what they got?
The Huffington Post asked Jeb Bush on Friday whether the shooting was racially motivated. “It was a horrific act and I don’t know what the background of it is, but it was an act of hatred,” Bush said.
Asked again whether the shooting was because of race, Bush added, “I don’t know. Looks like to me it was, but we’ll find out all the information. It’s clear it was an act of raw hatred, for sure. Nine people lost their lives, and they were African-American. You can judge what it is.”
The bottom line?
He’s afraid to say it himself.
He almost seems terrified that it’ll cost him votes.
Suggestion to Mr. Bush:
Why not ditch the JEB! logo — and use a photo of a jellyfish instead?
Photo via shutterstock.com