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January 25, 2010

Politico: Bush Bashing Ain't What It Used To Be

For all the talk of Obama as a thoughtful genius with a world class temperament, the guy relies on a handful of 'safety blanket' type devices. From the ever present ToTUS, to rhetorical ticks like "As I've always said", "Let me be perfectly clear" and, "This (fill in the blank) is unprecedented", Obama has a limited range of tricks to communicate his message and the thrust of his actions.

None of these however is more ubiquitous than blaming George W. Bush. It had become such a crutch that last week Obama was still saying "the last 8 years", as if the first year of his administration hadn't happened (at his disastrous Ohio town hall he changed it to "the last decade", which includes a year of Clinton and Obama but whatever). Seems though people (well, Democrats) are finally noticing and the act is getting old.

This fall, said Democratic strategists, their clients must be more strategic about if and when to play the Bush card — and do so only if their opponent has an actual personal or political connection to the former president that can be explained to the electorate.

“It’s got to be highly relevant,” said pollster Joel Benenson. “It has to be done in a way that’s not gratuitous and on issues that affect people’s lives. You can’t just brandish [Bush’s image] and wave it like a pennant.”

“Voters are smart about this,” added pollster Geoff Garin. “There’s got to be some credible relationship, either in terms of how they voted or [in terms of] specific policies that they’re supporting now.”

It’s not, Garin continued, one size fits all, but for some GOP candidates, the line of attack still carries some promise. He cited Rep. Roy Blunt, a House majority whip in the Bush years who is now running for a Missouri Senate seat, and former Rep. Rob Portman, who served as Bush’s budget director and is now running for the Senate in Ohio.

“Those people were really present at the creation, and making the case against them as helping to create the Bush economy is still very powerful,” Garin said.

During the Bush years, however, Sen.-elect Scott Brown was practicing law in Wrentham, Mass., and serving in the state Senate.

So when Democrats, realizing in the race’s final week that they were in danger of losing the seat previously held by Ted Kennedy, rushed up ads depicting Brown as being a Bush clone, it had little effect.

They’re “linking me to people I don’t even know!” Brown exclaimed in the days leading up to his election.

So what exactly do Obama and the Democrats have to run if not the evil memory of George W. Bush? There's the failed, and increasingly unpopular stimulus plan, that's wasted hundreds of billions of dollars. The wildly unpopular heath bill and a divergence between what people want in the way of dealing with terrorists and the administration's policies.

Yeah, I'm guessing they are going to stick with blaming Bush. It may suck but it's the best option they have.

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posted by DrewM. at 11:15 AM

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