DO REPUBLICANS MISS BUSH YET? APPARENTLY NOT ALL THAT MUCH
Politico notes the obvious:
The harsh Republican response to President Barack Obama's defense of a mosque near Ground Zero marks a dramatic shift in the party's posture toward Islam -- from a once-active courtship of Muslim voters to very public tolerance after 9/11 to an openly aired sense of mistrust.
Republican leaders have largely abandoned former President George W. Bush's post-9/11 rhetorical embrace of American Muslims and his insistence -- always controversial inside the party -- that Islam is a religion of peace. This weekend, former Bush aides were among the very few Republicans siding with Obama, as many of the party's leaders have moved toward more vocal denunciations of Islam's role in violence abroad, and suspicion of its place at home....
So Republicans say they miss Bush. But they reject his attitude toward Islam. They insist that their party "lost its way" on deficit spending during his administration. They're mostly downplaying the religious-right thinking that was a hallmark of his years in office. And they utterly reject any attempt to devise the kind of comprehensive overhaul of immigration policy he championed.
Apparently, there are only three things about Bush that they actually miss: his tax cuts, his warmongering, and his ability to manipulate images of patriotism (just this past week they were cheering his suspiciously public surprise visit to troops at a USO post in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, the latest of several suspiciously well-covered "unpublicized" meetings Bush has had with troops).
Apart from those three issues -- and, yes, they amount to a lot -- Republicans really don't seem to miss the guy all that much.
And yet, if Republicans win back the House and possibly the Senate, and they can argue that this happened in defiance of a Bush-bashing campaign by Democrats, I'm sure the GOP will welcome the subsequent book tour/victory lap of Bush -- conveniently forgetting their rejection of so many of his policies.
This is the difference between Democrats and Republicans. We're cranky about Obama policies we don't like and we don't conceal it; Republicans, except on a few issues (immigration, Harriet Miers, Dubai Ports World), have openly criticized Bush only when it's seemed politically prudent to do so. They're much cleverer at playing the political game -- but they're also less honest. (Perhaps I repeat myself.) In any case, the next time they exult in the notion that "Bush is back," remember that, in policy terms, they don't really seem to want Bush back on an awful lot of issues.