GOP Talking Point Watch: Bush rescued economy

GOP TALKING POINT WATCH: BUSH RESCUED ECONOMY…. On “Meet the Press” yesterday, Time‘s Mark Halperin raised a fairly provocative observation about President Obama — that the knock on him from the 2008 presidential campaign was largely backwards.

As a young senator running for the White House, Obama was derided by detractors as someone who could inspire people with a great speech, but wasn’t prepared to lead an administration. Halperin argued that one year in, the opposite appears to be true.

“He’s done, I think, an extraordinary job running the government … under difficult circumstances. He managed the economic crisis and kept the world from going into a depression. He staffed the government with very quality, quality people. He showed he could be commander-in-chief and manage these two difficult wars. What I think, ironically, the problem has been is he’s not inspired the country to feel a sense of optimism and renewal and to be unified in a bipartisan way. Those are the things I think people thought he would excel at.”

Now, there’s obviously something contrarian about this. Halperin’s description of President Obama’s first year, in effect, is that he’s a capable, competent technocrat who should be giving more feel-good speeches. I don’t imagine many people expected Halperin would be saying this a year ago.

But what was especially interesting was the knee-jerk partisanship of former Bush aide Karen Hughes, who responded to Halperin by saying, twice, that Obama “misread the country” by trying to enact the agenda he ran on, thereby “exacerbating” the public’s “anxiety.” She added:

“I have to disagree with you, Mark, about rescuing the economy, I think that happened before President Bush left office when they took the action that they did on TARP, and the banks have now repaid much of that money, but that’s what stabilized the economy and prevented the collapse of the financial system.”

Be on the lookout for this one — as the economy improves and the Bush Recession ends, Republicans will try to convince people that Bush, not Obama, deserves credit for rescuing the economy. While the evidence is overwhelming that it was the stimulus that created economic growth and pulled the economy bank from the brink, Karen Hughes — and soon, her cohorts — would us believe that the economy had already been rescued before Obama took office.

They’re truly shameless, but I can only assume this will be a major talking point fairly soon.