The Price For Letting Them Off Easy

Things that make me want to sanitize my brain by dunking my head in a bucket of iodine:

As George W. Bush’s public image improves, more former Bush officials are running for office — and are starting to tout their connections to the former president rather than running from them.

Top former Bush advisor Ed Gillespie included photos with his old boss and talked of his work in the White House in the video announcing his Virginia Senate bid on Thursday.

Gillespie isn’t the only Bush alumni looking to be on the ballot this fall. The former Republican National Committee chairman joins a long list already looking to launch their own electoral careers: Alaska Senate candidate Dan Sullivan (R); Elise Stefanik, the current GOP front-runner for retiring Rep. Bill Owens’s (D-N.Y.) seat in upstate New York; North Carolina congressional candidate Taylor Griffin (R) and West Virginia House candidate Charlotte Lane.

Former Bush officials Tom Foley (R) and Asa Hutchinson (R) are also running for governor in Connecticut and Arkansas. Neel Kashkari, who served both the Bush and Obama administration as assistant Treasury secretary running the Troubled Asset Relief Program, is mulling a bid to the GOP nominee for governor in California. One of Gillespie’s little-known Republican primary opponents, Howie Lind, served in Bush’s Department of Defense.

I know it is unrealistic to think that the Republican Party could field a nation of candidates without using anyone who served in the Bush administration, but it galls me that it might be anything but a liability.

There was way too little legal accountability for the various crimes of the Bush administration, and the effort to reach out (remember the vote on the Stimulus?) was met with a petulant stiff-arm. The result is that the Bush Era has begun to take on less of the flavor of criminality and more of mere incompetence. In reality, it was a lethal combination of both, and we should have never let America develop amnesia about that fact.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at