While the Obama campaign trots out Bill Clinton at the DNC and in our email inboxes, Republicans have essentially tried to pull a Men In Black-style ‘flashy thing’ on voters to erase their memories of President Bush.The Washington Monthly’s new e-book Elephant in the Room: Washington in the Bush Years argues that though W’s name is hardly ever evoked anymore, his policies and his legacy are central to our political moment.

Despite his absence from the campaign, Bush looms large not only over today’s politicy debates (Bush tax cuts, war in Afghanistan), but in the minds of the electorate. As Monthly Editor in Chief Paul Glastris told MSNBC yesterday, more voters blame Bush’s policies than Obama’s for the current economic downturn, making it risky for Romney to get too specific with his supply-side policy platform. Indeed, Romney wants 2012 to be a referendum on Obama, but it’s turning out to be a referendum on Bush. The irony here is that while Republicans are avoiding Bush like the plague, it turns out he might actually be more popular than Romney. Romney: He’s got all of Bush’s economic policies without any of his personal appeal.

For more on Elephant in the Room, see Paul on MSNBC and of course, pick up the e-book itself. There you’ll find pieces by Nicholas Confessore, Benjamin Wallace-Wells, Nicholas Thompson and others. Buy the book here or here, and for a limited time, get a free copy if you subscribe to the Washington Monthly.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Simon van Zuylen-Wood is a writer for Philadelphia Magazine.