Quick Quiz – can you name the most recent Republican President of the United States?
If you guessed Ronald Reagan, then you have been dutifully following the 2012 GOP nominating contest. If you answered George W. Bush, you are consumed with looking to the past instead of focusing on the present and the failed presidency of Barack Hussein Obama. George W. Bush? Never heard of him.
In fact, the name of the 43rd President, the most recent Republican to hold the office, has only received 56 mentions during the 634,714 debates so far. By comparison, Reagan has been mentioned 221 times (and Obama 560). Why is that? Reagan was first elected 32 years ago and Bush left office 3 years ago. It could be because the public still holds W accountable for the miserable economic mess that Obama inherited. It could be that associating with an unpopular figure could impact a candidate’s favorability by association, and W is still unpopular. It could be because the candidates would prefer that the public not take a closer look at what GOP policies mean in the real world.
Democrats (Gore) in 2000 shied away from Clinton because they did not want to be tarnished by his playboy reputation. By 2004, the gaggle of candidates for the nomination were advertising themselves as the rightful heir to the Clinton Legacy, and for good reason. Despite the personal failings, Bill’s policies helped create the conditions for a robust economy. Republicans in 2012 are shying away from George W. not for his personal reputation but for his professional results. W was the President you wanted to have a beer with (George would choose root beer, of course). The Bush Presidency could best be remembered for proving the contention that government doesn’t work. Yup, when Bush ran it, it sure as heck didn’t work.
So if a Republican is elected in 2012, who will fill his cabinet and other important governmental positions? There will be plenty of relics from the last GOP administration to be sure. Shouldn’t someone ask the candidates if there is anyone from George’s administration they admire and why? The public has a right to know if they are buying GWB 2.0. In the meantime, I guess we’ll keep hearing about the rightful heir to the 30 year old Reagan Legacy and the man who led the nation before the Internet, before smart phones, before the European Union, before the fall of Iraq, before 9/11.
Pretend that the Republicans didn’t run the White House from 2001 until 2008? Mission accomplished.