Bush Was On the Ballot

Regular readers know that the Washington Monthly has been adamant in arguing that the presidency of George W. Bush should have been a major factor in the 2012 elections, partly because of its impact on the situation Barack Obama faced when he took office, and partly because Bush’s agenda was in many ways a kinder gentler version of what Romney offered.

Well, looks like he kinda was on the ballot. Check this out from CNN’s analysis of the exit polls:

More voters in the swing states of Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio and Virginia blame George W. Bush than Obama for the state of the U.S. economy.

And here’s a nugget from Greg Sargent’s interview with Obama pollster Joel Benenson:

[Obama’s final internal poll] found voters agreed by more than three to one — 74 to 23 — that the 2008 meltdown was an “extraordinary crisis more severe than we’ve seen in decades,” rather than “a typical recession that the country has every several years.”

What’s more, a solid majority, 57 percent, believed that the problems created by the crisis were “too severe for anyone to fix in a single term.” Only four in 10 thought another president would have been able to do more to get the economy going in four years than Obama did. This message was brilliantly conveyed in Bill Clinton’s convention speech….

“They are living in a 1980s model — all you have to do is say, `we’re going to cut taxes, and the world will be fine,’” Benenson said, adding middle class voters no longer listen to that argument, because they feel “those at the top have benefitted more than they have.” Result: Voters preferred Obama’s willingness to fight for them to any technical proficiency they thought Romney had on the economy, his poll showed.

Since Republicans are not showing any signs of changing their basic economic and fiscal agenda, it’s important to commit the actual record of the Bush era to a clear memory. So if you haven’t already done so, check out our ebook, Elephant in the Room: Washington in the Bush Years. A return to those days has been delayed for four more years, but not yet buried.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.