A theme has emerged in the presidential campaign that is akin to the elephant in the room simile where no one within the family of an alcoholic appears to notice the aberrant behavior of the drunk. This theme has as its imprimatur that all of the bad things that have happened to our country in the last eight years can be credited to one man; George W. Bush, and that the Republican party apparat had nothing to do with it. In the Oct. 21 Republican debate, President Bush’s name was mentioned only seven times, five of them by the moderators, an intriguing sign of how candidates from the president’s own party want to be identified with him as little as possible.
The net result is that all of the Republican presidential candidates are being given, for the most part, what amounts to a free pass on the accountability issue of who or what is responsible for the current mess in which we find ourselves. The campaign strategy is to avoid lambasting Bush as if to ignore a sensitive topic will make it go away. It is more subtle than that however. To be clear, Bush has done some things which, in my opinion, justify his impeachment and removal from office; warrantless wiretapping of American citizens as one major example. However, Bush is merely the poster boy for what has gone wrong. A substantial percentage of Republican voters apparently believe that the Republican party is entitled to a free pass for the damage done to our country in the past eight years and that the electorate should ignore, or leave unsaid and unconsidered, the misdeeds because all it takes is someone else in the White House with Republican credentials to right the ship. Voting citizens, in general, are not that stupid. For all the money and effort Mitt Romney has put into his campaign effort, I believe he lost any opportunity to become our next president when he endorsed the concept of 'doubling' the size of Guantanamo. In that one simple declaration, he put the knife right into the heart of his aspirations. Why this is so is really the essence of this essay. This statement declares that Romney will function in his presidency much like the current administration, if not moreso. Republicans and Democrats alike want no more of this. Just in case this sounds like an anti-Republican rant, let me say that the Democrat candidates are not much better because they tend to focus on the man and his misdeeds rather than taking on the underlying policy considerations. It is easy for candidates to beat up the straw man here; one side actively and the other by pointedly ignoring him, but the underlying undermining of our constitutional values is really what this presidential campaign is all about.