Democrats Find New Opportunity to Oppose Bush

President Obama listens as President George W. Bush speaks during a press conference on aid for Haiti at the White House on January 16, 2010 Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images

Democrats wasted virtually no time jumping on comments made over the weekend by Sen. John Cornyn, who suggested the GOP’s key to victory this year would be to promise a return to Bush-style economics. "We need to go back to the exact same agenda,” Cornyn, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said on Sunday when asked about the party's way out of the woods. It would have just another statement, a small quote, if Pete Sessions, Cornyn’s counterpart atop the National Republican Congressional Committee, hadn't also pointed out that “people had jobs when Republicans were not only in charge but [when] George Bush was there.”

Within minutes, the Democratic spinsmeisters blasted out the comments to reporters, as they do every Sunday when Republicans say something implicative or incredible. (Works the same way on the other side, no doubt.) But this time was different. Monday morning the e-mails kept coming. “In Case You Missed It,” one spokesman wrote. “Republican campaign chairs defend George W. Bush.” Then another, then another.

That’s how narratives in Washington get written. Is it a good GOP strategy? I’ve read the tea leaves before and have been wrong. But it seems a pretty big gamble for the Republicans, less than two years after Bush left office, to paint his second term as the glory days of yesteryear. That, and to argue that his free-market economic principles ended up being nothing short of benign. Frankly, it hadn't been a particularly flattering week for the 43rd president. It was just last week when a series of stories focused on his brother Jeb as a potentially serious candidate in 2012, a prospect that likely raised Democrats some serious cash.

Talking about free-market economics and lax government regulation surely attracts the attention of GOP donors. But dropping the Bush name into the equation no doubt fills Democrats’ coffers, too.