A ‘COMMON PHILOSOPHY’…. Under the circumstances, one might assume that John McCain would try to avoid talking about George W. Bush altogether. Just pretend he doesn’t exist. If asked, he’d say, “George who?”

But, no. McCain keeps pushing his luck. A few days ago, McCain brought up Bush in order to talk about how much Obama has in common with the president. A day later, McCain brought up Bush again in order to argue, unpersuasively, that he disagrees with the president about several key issues. McCain talked about Bush again this morning, acknowledging that he and the president “share a common philosophy of the Republican Party.”

I suspect the Obama campaign couldn’t be happier to have the discussion head in this direction. Indeed, Obama, campaigning in Denver today, plans to help McCain get his message out.

“Just this morning, Senator McCain said that he and President Bush – ‘share a common philosophy.’ That’s right, Colorado. I guess that was John McCain finally giving us a little straight talk, and owning up to the fact that he and George Bush actually have a whole lot in common.”

Look, this isn’t even a close call. By now, we’ve all seen the clip with McCain bragging to a national television audience about having voted with Bush 90% of the time, “higher than a lot of my even Republican colleagues.”

But the connection obviously goes far deeper. As Tom Brokaw reminded McCain this morning, the senator has insisted, “[O]n the transcendent issues, the most important issues of our day, I have been totally in agreement and support of President Bush.” A few months ago, McCain vowed to campaign alongside Bush as much as possible this year.

And perhaps most importantly of all, McCain’s policy agenda for the next four years is practically indistinguishable from Bush’s policy agenda. This is old news.

Yet McCain continues to engage on this issue, even going so far as to equate Bush and Obama, apparently unaware of just how delighted Obama is to have this discussion in the campaign’s closing days.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.