That Bush is unpopular was acknowledged by the GOP candidates in their debate, as they basically never mentioned his name. Yet these same candidates overwhelmingly endorsed his policies, with the possible exception of immigration reform….as if Bush’s lack of popularity was the result of some personal characteristic, rather than his policies.
Paul Krugman, at NY Times Select, takes up that theme today:
the leading contenders for the Republican nomination have given us little reason to believe they would behave differently. Why should they? The principles Mr. Bush has betrayed are principles today’s G.O.P., dominated by movement conservatives, no longer honors. In fact, rank-and-file Republicans continue to approve strongly of Mr. Bush’s policies — and the more un-American the policy, the more they support it.
aside from John McCain, who to his credit echoed Gen. Petraeus (and was met with stony silence), the candidates spoke enthusiastically in favor of torture and against the rule of law. Rudy Giuliani endorsed waterboarding. Mitt Romney declared that he wants accused terrorists at Guantánamo, “where they don’t get the access to lawyers they get when they’re on our soil … My view is, we ought to double Guantánamo.” His remarks were greeted with wild applause.
And torture isn’t the only Bush legacy that seems destined to continue if a Republican becomes the next president. Mr. Bush got us into the Iraq quagmire by conflating Saddam with Al Qaeda, treating two mutually hostile groups as if they constituted a single enemy. Well, Mr. Romney offers more of that. “There is a global jihadist effort,” he warned in the second debate. “And they’ve come together as Shia and Sunni and Hezbollah and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda with that intent.” Aren’t Sunnis and Shiites killing each other, not coming together? Nevermind.
What about the administration’s state of denial over Iraq, its unwillingness to face up to reality? None of the leading G.O.P. presidential contenders seem any different —
These “debates” would be jokes, if they didn’t so debase the electoral process. But the message from the GOP, as a whole, is clear: business as usual.