NewsBusters readers are painfully aware of the media's utter disdain for President George W. Bush, and their ad nauseum ad hominem attacks on his intellect, his oratory skills, and his policies.
Since the 2008 presidential campaign began on November 8, 2006, you haven't been able to swing a dead cat without hitting a press report about Republican candidates needing to do everything within their power to distance themselves from Bush.
With that in mind, waking up to the following headline in the Boston Globe Saturday shocked me almost as much as if I caught Santa crawling up my chimney (emphasis added throughout):
Romney praise of Bush proving a key strategy; Tactic could lift campaign above rivals'
Still conscious? That was just the beginning:
More than any other Republican presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney is running as the candidate friendliest to President Bush, surrounding himself with former Bush advisers, delivering his most closely watched speech at the presidential library of the president's father, and this week launching a staunch defense of Bush's Iraq policy.
In part, the strategy helps him distinguish himself from rival Mike Huckabee, who this week criticized Bush's foreign policy as "arrogant" and indicative of a "bunker mentality." Yesterday, Romney's campaign sent reporters a copy of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's comments blasting Huckabee's criticism as "just simply ludicrous."
Romney is not casting himself as Bush's heir nor fully embracing his legacy, but rather selectively aligning himself with the president on issues that appeal to loyal Republican voters, who continue to hold Bush in high regard and who will largely decide the party's nominee.
Amazing, wouldn't you agree? But there's more, for the Globe even found a member of academia to support the wisdom of Romney associating himself with Bush:
"I think the feeling among the Romney people is that this is a prudent strategy that will activate the people who still line up with the president and that it doesn't involve much of a risk," said Ross K. Baker, a Rutgers University political scientist.
"What it does is ingratiate him with most of the party activists and most of the hard-core conservatives in his party."
Wow. Forgive me having to write and run, but I think I hear reindeer on my roof!