Political Animal


September 30, 2012 2:10 PM The Elephant in the Room

By Simon van Zuylen-Wood

While the Obama campaign trots out Bill Clinton at the DNC and in our email inboxes, Republicans have essentially tried to pull a Men In Black-style ‘flashy thing’ on voters to erase their memories of President Bush.The Washington Monthly’s new e-book Elephant in the Room: Washington in the Bush Years argues that though W’s name is hardly ever evoked anymore, his policies and his legacy are central to our political moment.

Despite his absence from the campaign, Bush looms large not only over today’s politicy debates (Bush tax cuts, war in Afghanistan), but in the minds of the electorate. As Monthly Editor in Chief Paul Glastris told MSNBC yesterday, more voters blame Bush’s policies than Obama’s for the current economic downturn, making it risky for Romney to get too specific with his supply-side policy platform. Indeed, Romney wants 2012 to be a referendum on Obama, but it’s turning out to be a referendum on Bush. The irony here is that while Republicans are avoiding Bush like the plague, it turns out he might actually be more popular than Romney. Romney: He’s got all of Bush’s economic policies without any of his personal appeal.

For more on Elephant in the Room, see Paul on MSNBC and of course, pick up the e-book itself. There you’ll find pieces by Nicholas Confessore, Benjamin Wallace-Wells, Nicholas Thompson and others. Buy the book here or here, and for a limited time, get a free copy if you subscribe to the Washington Monthly.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Simon van Zuylen-Wood is a writer for Philadelphia Magazine.


  • c u n d gulag on September 30, 2012 2:58 PM:

    Poor, poor Republicans...
    They can't understand why people don't just automatically put them in the Oval Office EVERY election year.

    Let's review some of their Presidents, and see why that's not always the case:
    Herbert Hoover - a good, decent, intelligent man, who was inept in the office. Democrats controlled the Presidency for 20 years after him.

    Ike - a good, decent, intelligent man who was pretty "ept" in office - but kept taxes too high, and was too Liberal for today's knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers.

    Dick Nixon - a paranoid crook. 'Nuff said.

    Ronnie - a figurehead, suffering from dementia. A terrible President who ran up more unpaid bills than any President in history.
    But still, a 'cult of personality' has formed around him.
    And why not?
    He gave tough speeches, and invaded some small island somewhere that Clint Eastwood made one of his few sh*tty movies about.
    He's all they've got!

    George H.W. Bush - an intelligent man, who was neither very good nor very decent. And, while he was successful in waging a war, he raised taxes, and so became a heretic to Conservatives.

    And, finally, George W. Bush - a feckless schnook, who ignored warnings about an immminent terrorist attack, attacked the wrong country, tortured people, ran up the debt, ignored a drowning city, and allowed so much deregulation, that the US economy nearly went down the sh*tter, taking the world with it.

    And now, Mitt, with his pant's pockets full of Laffer trickle-downers, and his jacket pockets full of Neocon's, wants to double down on Bush and Reagan's domestic and foreign policies.

    And people in the media wonder why he doesn't want to give any details?
    WHO THE FECK WOULD?!?!?!?!?!

  • schtick on September 30, 2012 3:39 PM:

    There's not only the elephant in the room, but the dung that goes with it.

  • N.Wells on September 30, 2012 4:04 PM:

    I'm horrified that Bush is doing so well in popular opinion. Just how bad was Bush? He was so godawfully disastrous that America elected a half-black guy as president. His administration has trashed more of the constitution and set more bad precedents than any other president.

    Just how bad are the Republicans? They can't (fingers crossed here) even drum Obama out of office, despite selling out all their principles to try to deny him any victory at any cost, even if it means doing a 180 on achieving things they previously wanted.

    Just how bad is the American electorate? They elected Bush twice (ditto Reagan and Nixon). Even in this election, R's and Romney are still getting around 50% support. How many more times can we rely on the R's having candidates that make bottom-sucking pond scum look wise and attractive in comparison?

  • SadOldVet on September 30, 2012 5:59 PM:

    Little George - The.Worst.President.Ever.Including.Calvin.Coolidge

    Just tells you how shitty the collective memory of the ameriKan sheeple is and how crappy a candidate Mittens is.

  • zandru on October 01, 2012 3:41 PM:

    Erasing people's memories of Junior Bush? The Repubs also think they have succeeded in erasing people's memories of President Clinton.

    I lived through the Clinton Presidency, becoming politically obsessed, in fact. I've read all the books: Gene Lyons, Sid Blumenthal, etc. I'm quite familiar with the Arkansas Project. So now, I'm just blown away by the constant assertions by spokes and talking heads of just how much the Republicans back in the day L O O O O V E D them some Bill Clinton, and how well they got along with him. (In contrast to the current "resident", of course.)

    Surely there are other Americans with memories.