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August 18th, 2019

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This Donald Trump explanation of his Iraq position is just so mind-boggling

Chris Cillizza

By Chris Cillizza

Published Feb. 23, 2016

This Donald Trump explanation of his Iraq position is just so mind-boggling

Donald Trump went on "Meet the Press" Sunday. "MTP" host Chuck Todd asked Trump about the apparent contradiction between his insistence throughout the campaign that he had spoken out in opposition to the war in Iraq from the start and a 2002 quote in which Trump suggests he is in favor of the invasion. What happened next is amazing.

"I really don't even know what I mean, because that was a long time ago, and who knows what was in my head," Trump said.

Okay. Let's take a step back here. Trump is the clear favorite for the Republican presidential nomination. He has insisted that his lack of experience in elected office is a non-issue because he has demonstrated the good judgment that many of his politician rivals have not. Point number one of that argument has always been that he was the only Republican candidate running for president who opposed the Iraq war from the start.

Except that he didn't. And, his explanation for that fact? 1. It was a long time ago. 2. And I quote: "Who knows what was in my head."

Now, imagine any other candidate for president in either party offering up that response to any question -- much less one about the central foreign policy decision of the past two decades. That candidate would be filleted, roasted for his lack of knowledge. Doubts would be raised among his supporters about whether he was ready for the job he was seeking. The candidate would be compelled by his advisers to give a high-profile speech explaining the contradiction in positions and the remarkably flip initial answer he offered to explain away that contradiction.

For Trump, it's just another Sunday. There will be no big speech to explain anything. There won't even be a statement trying to clarify. The man most likely to be the Republican nominee for president this fall -- and, therefore, to have a real chance at being the next president -- will simply stand on his it-was-a-long-time-ago-and-anyway-I-just-say-stuff explanation for taking two absolutely contradictory positions.

That reality tells you everything you need to know about Trump and his position in this race. Normal rules of politics don't apply to him. Rules of any sort don't seem to apply to him. His supporters seem uninterested or unbothered -- or both -- by the fact that something that Trump used as a proof point for his judgment has been proven wrong.

Any suggestion that Trump's acknowledgement that he just doesn't really remember what he said or meant about Iraq will slow his momentum in the Republican race is based on having spent the last eight months on another planet. It will not slow him. It will not stop him. It may, in fact, further convince those who are for him of his anti-political chops: What politician would ever admit they have no idea why they said what they said, after all?

Donald Trump has created a bizarro world of politics. What looks like up is down. What looks bad is good. The rest of the field -- and the media horde covering them -- need to adjust to the fact that this is the new normal.

Previously:


02/22/16:Jeb Bush never really had a chance in the 2016 presidential race
02/18/16: Senate Republicans will never hold a Supreme Court vote this year. This poll shows why
02/17/16: South Carolina isn't Bush Country anymore
02/12/16: Winners and losers from the 6th Dem debate
02/10/16: Winners and losers from the New Hampshire primary
02/06/16: Winners and losers from the fifth Democratic presidential debate
01/29/16: Winners and losers from the 7th Republican presidential debate
01/27/16: Ranking the Republican 2016 field
01/25/16: Trump is the favorite to be the Republican nominee. Period
01/22/16: Who had the worst week in Washington? Hillary Clinton
01/18/16: Feeling bad for Jeb Bush
01/15/16: Winners and losers from the sixth Republican presidential debate
01/12/16: Here's exactly how Bernie Sanders can beat Hillary Clinton
01/11/16:The fantasy scenario that could become reality for Hillary
12/30/15: The five big lessons from a weirdly watchable year of politics
12/21/15: Winners and losers in the third Democratic presidential debate
12/16/15: Winners and losers from the 5th Republican presidential debate
12/16/15: Cruz, not Trump, looking like GOP favorite for 2016
12/04/15: Ted Cruz is the sleeping giant in the Republican race
11/24/15:Trump is leading an increasingly fact-free 2016 campaign
11/23/15: A ranking of GOP presidential candidates who can still make a case --- and the nominee
11/16/15: The remarkably unappealing anger of Donald Trump
11/11/15: Winners and losers from the fourth Republican debate
11/02/15: Jeb Bush says he still doesn't get why his terrible debate performance matters so much
10/29/15: Winners and losers from the third Republican presidential debate
10/22/15: Paul Ryan might be saving his party. But at what cost?
10/20/15: Six things we know Joe Biden is thinking
10/19/15: Who had the worst week in Washington? Lincoln Chafee
10/14/15: Winners and losers from the first Dem presidential debate

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