MISDIRECTED REPUBLICAN RAGE…. Bruce Bartlett, a veteran of the Reagan and H.W. Bush administrations, has been watching the conservative apoplexy in response to the Obama presidency. He’s not only unimpressed, Bartlett is also convinced they’re directing their rage at the wrong guy.

In my opinion, conservative activists, who seem to believe that the louder they shout the more correct their beliefs must be, are less angry about Obama’s policies than they are about having lost the White House in 2008. They are primarily Republican Party hacks trying to overturn the election results, not representatives of a true grassroots revolt against liberal policies. If that were the case they would have been out demonstrating against the Medicare drug benefit, the Sarbanes-Oxley bill, and all the pork-barrel spending that Bush refused to veto.

Until conservatives once again hold Republicans to the same standard they hold Democrats, they will have no credibility and deserve no respect. They can start building some by admitting to themselves that Bush caused many of the problems they are protesting.

Well said.

The conventional wisdom seems to be that the president and his allies simply aren’t supposed to mention Bush/Cheney anymore. It’s uncouth, we’re told. It’s lazy. No one likes a leader who spends time looking back.

But Bartlett makes a very compelling case that Bush probably isn’t getting nearly enough blame. Conservatives are angry about the deficit, but Bush left Obama a $1.2 trillion annual deficit. Conservatives are angry about the weak economy, but “conservative protesters should remember that the recession, which led to so many of the policies they oppose, is almost entirely the result of Bush’s policies.” Conservatives are angry about efforts to reform the health care system, but the system was deteriorating throughout the Bush years, and the Republican administration ignored the problems.

“I think conservative anger is misplaced,” Bartlett said. “To a large extent, Obama is only cleaning up messes created by Bush.”

If Republicans would at least be willing to concede that Republican policies actually created these messes in the first place, it’d be a helpful step forward.

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.