On Thursday, Americans braced ourselves as reports trickled in about yet another mass shooting, this one at a community college in Oregon, leaving 10 people dead.
It was a horrific scene that we’d seen too many times before. But Jeb Bush was taking it in stride, and told an interviewer on Friday that although the shooting was “very sad,” it didn’t require government action.
“Look,” he said, “stuff happens, there’s always a crisis, and the impulse is always to do something, and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”
Remember the good ole days of the Bush administration when right after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, as Bagdad was collapsing into chaos, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld went before the press to inform us that “stuff happens”?
“Stuff happens,” he declared, “and it’s untidy and freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They’re also free to live their lives and do wonderful things, and that’s what’s going to happen.”
More stuff happened throughout the Bush years. Remember the Katrina stuff? And yesterday it was reported that the Jeb! team is considering bringing George W. Bush out on the trail so he can bolster his sagging poll numbers and the entire country can relive the dream!
Regarding this most recent use of “stuff happens,” it perfectly encapsulates the attitude about gun violence that is now prevalent in the Republican Party, thanks to the lobbying efforts of the NRA and its fellow gun groups. The fact that this “stuff” happens more in America than anywhere else in the developed world doesn’t seem to change their mind that mass shootings are an inevitable act of nature.
But it also encapsulates a disturbing view of the role of government in solving national problems. Bush wasn’t saying just that our representatives in the government shouldn’t act when “stuff happens.” He was also saying that we should just let the stuff keep happening. Stop me if you’ve heard about this presidency before.