Beinart hears the moaning skeleton in Romney's closet:
Mitt Romney is not a great candidate; Barack Obama is a better one. But without the Bush legacy, Romney would be leading this race. His problem is that except among staunch conservatives, Bush has so hurt the GOP’s brand that Romney doesn’t look like the fresh economic fix-it man that Republicans want to portray him as. Instead, it’s all too easy for Democrats to paint him as George W. Bush the 3rd, just as they painted John McCain as George W. Bush the 2nd.
Romney has tried to handle the Bush legacy the same way McCain did: by ignoring it. When Republicans convened in late August in Tampa, as in Minneapolis in 2008, Bush was not there. But in campaigns, ignoring your weaknesses rarely makes them go away. While at their convention Republicans tried to pretend that the Bush presidency never happened, the Obama campaign handed Bill Clinton the microphone and allowed him to define the race as Obama-Clinton versus Romney-Bush. The GOP, in Clinton’s narrative, creates economic messes. Democrats clean them up.
And that narrative is persuasive, if you accept Clinton's lift from the first Bush. I think Clinton got Americans remembering again. And, when it comes to the debt-building, war-mongering GOP, shuddering.