Douthat gives Romney some free advice on how to attack Santorum:
Romney needs to find a way to portray his latest rival (fairly accurately) as the consummate Bush-era Republican – as the kind of politician that moderates rejected in 2006 and Tea Partiers turned on in 2010. This line of attack has the potential to answer Santorum’s left-right pincer movement with a pincer movement of its own – one that simultaneously plays to right-wing disillusionment with Bush-style "compassionate conservatism" and to the broader public’s disappointment with the Bush presidency in general.
[T]here is no credible way for Romney to paint Santorum as the consummate Bush-era Republican without condemning himself. If he tries to position himself as an "outsider," given his lack of Washington experience (versus Santorum’s), all Santorum has to do is point out that the entire Washington GOP establishment backs Mitt — so who’s the real outsider?
George W. Bush? Who was he? When was he president? Was he a Republican? If you'd only watched the 387 GOP debates so far, you'd have no idea at all.
Earlier commentary on Bush's role in the campaign here.
(Photo: US President George W. Bush addresses a $1 million Republican fundraiser for Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Mitt Romney at the Seaport Hotel in Boston on October 4, 2002. By Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)