Finally, Mitt Romney got the endorsement he's been waiting for most all these months!
"I'm for Mitt Romney," former President George W. Bush told ABC News this morning as the doors of an elevator closed on him following a speech he delivered at a human rights forum a block from the White House.
There you have it: with four words, you have the most-prized endorsement possible if you're running for the GOP presidential nomination.
But where's the press release? Where's the big photo op? Where's the handshake? Romney did all those things with the likes of Donald Trump. Watch it:
As Dana Carvey use to say while imitating Bush's father, "not gonna do it." Watch it:
Why? Because Bush still has a long, long way to go to improve his legacy.
In three major surveys since he left office in 2009, Bush is ranked anywhere from the fifth-worst (by the Siena Research Institute) to the tenth-worst (United States Presidency Centre in London) U.S. president ever. Siena gave Bush poor ratings for his handling of the economy, communication, ability to compromise, foreign policy accomplishments and intelligence.
In these rankings, Bush is compared to past presidents like Millard Fillmore, John Tyler, Franklin Pierce, Rutherford B. Hayes and Chester A. Arthur. Of that group, only two were actually elected to the office (Pierce and Hayes). The other three rose to the presidency as vice presidents upon the death of the previous president. And none - none of them were elected to a second term.
In the aggregate, Bush is the second lowest rated president since 1877 (only Warren G. Harding, who served from 1921 to 1923, is rated lower).
Good company Mr. Bush!
OK, ok, so Romney says he's going to be different from Bush, right?
No, again "not gonna do it."
Here's what RNC spokesperson Alexandra Franceschi said in a mid-April interview on The Fernando Espuelas Show about Romney’s approach to the economy:
REPORTER: Now, how different is that concept from what were the policies of the Bush administration? ... Is this a different program or is this that program just updated?FRANCESCHI: I think it’s that program, just updated.
Listen to the interview:
Also, Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein recently compared Bush’s platform in 2000 with Romney’s 2012 proposals and concluded that "Republicans have mostly coalesced around the same set of ideas."
And a recent New York Times column by Nobel Prize winning economist and Princeton University Economics Professor Paul Krugman described Romney as "the amnesia candidate."
"Romney is essentially advocating a return to those very same Bush policies," Krugman wrote. "And he’s hoping that you don’t remember how badly those policies worked."
In fact, Romney's "updated" Bush positions fall substantially to the right of Bush in many key areas, including tax policy, campaign finance, education, Medicare, minimum wage and the environment.
Still not convinced? Romney also has almost the exact same advisors as Bush did, including Ed Gillespie, R. Glenn Hubbard and Greg Mankiw.
With these Bush "updated" policies in place and all those Bush people on Romney's team, what could possibly go wrong?