LEAVING REAGAN BEHIND…. The Washington Times headline certainly sounds provocative, at least for Republicans: “Jeb Bush, GOP: Time to leave Reagan behind.” The story reads:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Saturday that it’s time for the Republican Party to give up its “nostalgia” for the heyday of the Reagan era and look forward, even if it means stealing the winning strategy deployed by Democrats in the 2008 election.

“You can’t beat something with nothing, and the other side has something. I don’t like it, but they have it, and we have to be respectful and mindful of that,” Mr. Bush said. […]

“So our ideas need to be forward looking and relevant. I felt like there was a lot of nostalgia and the good old days in the [Republican] messaging. I mean, it’s great, but it doesn’t draw people toward your cause,” Mr. Bush said.

As far as I can tell, the former Florida governor didn’t actually mention Reagan by name, but simply encouraged his party to move past “nostalgia” for a bygone era. That sounds like common sense — parties need to adapt to changing policy and cultural landscapes. It’s hardly a controversial idea.

But the combination of the Times headline and the idea of moving beyond Reagan seems to have caused a bit of a stir in conservative circles.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told CNN this morning that the party needs to be “forward looking and relevant,” but added, “I don’t think it’s giving up Ronald Reagan.”

The response from conservative blogs has been far more intense, with many trashing Jeb Bush, some personally, for raising such an idea.

I guess the “nostalgia” for “the good old days” will be hanging around for a while.

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.