On reading the job description

Did George W. Bush really “never dream” that, if elected President, he might have to commit troops to battle?

A reader points to this truly appalling passage from the debate (scroll down about 60%):

I understand how hard it is to commit troops. Never wanted to commit troops. When I was running — when we had the debate in 2000, never dreamt I’d be doing that.

Is that right? Did George W. Bush run for President of the United States “never dreaming” that he might have to commit troops to combat? Was he really that disconnected from reality?

Historical trivia question, to which I don’t know the answer: Who was the last President who got through a term without committing troops to combat? Did Carter pull it off? Or do we have to go back to Hoover? (Update: Duhhhh…forgot the Iranian hostage rescue. Brad DeLong says Hoover sent troops to Shanghai, and that the answer to the question is “W.H. Harrison.”)

Whatever the answer, to run for President without considering that one of the Presiden’s Constitutional roles is to be Commander-in-Chief suggests a level of emotional immaturity that is truly frightening.

Or perhaps Mr. Bush was perfectly well aware of that, and his comment Thursday night was just another little fib.

I can’t think of a third alternative.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com