And so I think that George W. Bush, in my opinion, did a fantastic job as president over eight years [bold mine-DL], facing a set of circumstances during those eight years that are different from the circumstances that a President Romney would face.
There is some irreducible core of partisan Republicans that must agree with this to some degree, but I have a hard time understanding why any current Republican politician would give Bush such a gratuitous ringing endorsement when asked a question about the differences between Bush and Romney. It would have been enough to say, “A Romney administration will naturally be different because times and circumstances change,” or he could have faked his way through the answer by making some vague reference to excessive spending during the Bush years that supposedly won’t happen under Romney. Even if Rubio feels compelled not to criticize Bush because Bush’s brother is his mentor, he could still avoid making such a ridiculous statement. It shouldn’t take long for some reporter to take Rubio’s answer and ask Romney if he agrees with the statement that Bush was a “fantastic” president.
It is inevitable that partisans feel obliged to express their support for the President when he comes from their party and is still in office. There are political costs that come with being too critical of party leaders, and I wouldn’t expect a rising political star in a party still defined by the Bush legacy to denounce Bush. Even so, this sort of praise for one of the most discredited and unpopular modern Presidents reflects a degree of denial and delusion about the Bush administration’s record that is hard to fathom.