NEWT GOES OFF-MESSAGE…. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich received a hero’s welcome at the Conservative Political Action Conference in D.C. yesterday, and proceeded to blast “the Bush-Obama big spending program.”

It’s a phrase Gingrich is clearly very fond of. Indeed, the ethically-challenged former Speaker seems really intent on connecting President Obama’s economic policies to George W. Bush’s. Two weeks ago, Gingrich had an op-ed in the Washington Times in which he used the phrase “Bush-Obama” four times in four paragraphs.

And while the phrase hasn’t caught on as a conservative talking point, ol’ Newt isn’t giving up on his argument.

…Mr. Gingrich gave voice to the lingering ire many conservatives still harbor over the fiscal policies of the President George W. Bush, tracing the lineage of Mr. Obama’s stimulus package and budget back to what he stated flatly were a string of “failed” spending and bailout plans hatched during the final months of the Bush administration.

“The great irony of where we are today is that we had a Bush-Obama big-spending program that was bipartisan in its nature,” Mr. Gingrich said….

I understand the point he’s trying to get across. Bush increased spending, Obama is increasing spending. Bush’s policies were a disaster for the economy, so Obama’s policies….

It has a certain child-like appeal, just so long as no one thinks about it too much.

But the reason this isn’t a compelling argument — aside from the fact that it has no relation to reality — is that Gingrich’s point undermines the other Republican talking points. The principal complaint from the right about Obama’s spending plans is that they’re “radical.” The spending is “unprecedented.” The agenda represents “socialism.”

And despite all of this, Gingrich nevertheless argues that Obama’s spending “is more of the Bush-Obama continuity and represents more of the same instead of ‘change you can believe in.’”

This just doesn’t add up. Either Obama’s approach is a radical change or it’s Bush’s agenda warmed over. It can’t be both.

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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.