BARNES BELIEVES BUSH…. Few conservative writers/activists have been as consistent in their sycophancy for George W. Bush as the Weekly Standard‘s Fred Barnes. It makes sense, then, that the president would reward the Republican pundit with a private luncheon (with Bill Kristol) in the president’s private dining room adjacent to the Oval Office late last week.

Yesterday, Barnes published a piece on what he learned from the president, starting with how impressed he is with the “amazing” number of books Bush has read in his competition with Karl Rove. (Barnes is apparently the only person on the planet who actually believes Rove about Bush’s book-reading habits.) He ends the piece talking about how “proud” Bush should be of “what he achieved.”

In between, there was this gem:

On domestic policy, Bush was asked if he made progress in some areas for which he hasn’t and probably won’t get credit. Topping his list was his unsuccessful drive in 2005 to reform Social Security. Bush said his effort showed it’s politically safe to campaign on changing Social Security and then actually seek to change it.

He also said it was important to have raised private investment accounts as an attractive option in reforming Social Security.

Now, I have a pretty clear recollection of 2005, and I don’t recall Bush demonstrating that it’s “politically safe” to try to privatize Social Security; I recall the opposite. The more president talked about his scheme, the more Americans hated it. This one initiative sent his approval rating below 50%, and it never recovered. Republicans will be afraid to pursue this again, ever.

What’s more, “private investment accounts” now appear “attractive”? To whom, exactly? Probably not to anyone who’s noticed the Wall Street crash that’s unfolded over the last several months.

If Bush thinks this is an area of “progress” for him, and an area in which he deserves more “credit,” even he’s having trouble spinning the last eight years. It’s reminiscent of Dick Cheney being asked a few weeks ago to identify the “highest” moment of his two terms, and the first thing that came to mind was “9/11 itself.”

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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.