As a rule, the GOP presidential field realizes that the president’s name isn’t supposed to be uttered at all. In the most recent presidential candidate, not a single Republican hopeful used the word “Bush” over the course of the 90-minute event. This, of course, makes sense -- candidates don't want to align themselves with the least popular president in the modern political era.
But that's just rhetorical. Paul Krugman explains today that when it comes to substance, the GOP candidates are effectively promising four more years.
On one side, the Democrats are all promising to get out of Iraq and offering strongly progressive policies on taxes, health care and the environment. That’s understandable: the public hates the war, and public opinion seems to be running in a progressive direction.
What seems harder to understand is what’s happening on the other side — the degree to which almost all the Republicans have chosen to align themselves closely with the unpopular policies of an unpopular president. And I’m not just talking about their continuing enthusiasm for the Iraq war. The G.O.P. candidates are equally supportive of Bush economic policies. [...]
In fact, however, except for Mike Huckabee — a peculiar case who’ll deserve more discussion if he stays in contention — the leading Republican contenders have gone out of their way to assure voters that they will not deviate an inch from the Bush path. Why? Because the G.O.P. is still controlled by a conservative movement that does not tolerate deviations from tax-cutting, free-market, greed-is-good orthodoxy.
The more things change, the more the Republican Party stays the same.