THE DEFINITION OF AN ‘INHERITED SITUATION’…. Someone is going to have to translate this one for me.

Republicans on Capitol Hill think they’ve finally found Barack Obama’s Achilles’ heel: rising public concern about government spending and the federal deficit. […]

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told POLITICO that GOP candidates in 2010 will almost certainly use the deficit to argue that Democrats own a Washington mess.

“This was not an inherited situation. This was a matter entirely of this administration’s and this Democratic leadership’s making,” Cornyn said.

Now, it’s my understanding that “an inherited situation” refers to “situations” that are “inherited.” In the context of presidential administrations, it refers to problems that an outgoing president leaves for his or her successor.

When George W. Bush took office in 2001, for example, the “inherited situation” with the budget looked extraordinarily good — Clinton had left him with an enormous budget surplus and we were on track to pay off the massive national debt. Bush, eight years later, ended his presidency with a $1.2 trillion budget deficit, a $10 trillion debt, and a generational economic crisis.

To be sure, President Obama isn’t in a rush to lower that deficit, nor should he be given the economic circumstances. But for Cornyn to argue this isn’t an “inherited situation” makes me wonder if he didn’t understand the question.

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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.