Marc Thiessen tells the story of the anti-Bush neoconservatives:
This of course ignores the fact that many neoconservatives were deeply critical of the Bush administration during its time in office (for coddling Mubarak and Putin and mishandling post-liberation Iraq, among other policies).
I’m not sure what point Thiessen thinks he’s making here. Yes, neoconservatives were deeply critical of the administration when it failed to be as ideological and militaristic as they wished it to be. They became apoplectic during his second term when he backed away from some of their more disastrous ideas. After his first term was littered with disasters inspired by those ideas, it’s not surprising that this is what happened. They have nonetheless proved to be the most stubborn, fanatical Bush loyalists in the last few years, because so much of what the Bush administration did wrong on foreign policy and national security is correctly associated with them.
McCain was critical of how the administration handled the occupation, because he has never seen a situation where sending more troops was not his preferred solution. On the other hand, it was Wolfowitz who famously dismissed Gen. Shinseki’s estimates for the numbers of soldiers needed to restore order after the invasion. It is some hint of just how ideologically warped their view of the world is that Thiessen thinks he can plausibly describe Bush-era policy towards Russia as “coddling Putin.” What does Thiessen think antagonizing and provoking Putin would have looked like?
Of course, most of the 2012 GOP field is a bunch of “Bush neocon retreads” in most respects. The party’s foreign policy elite is still largely dominated by the people who contributed to the numerous failures of Bush administration foreign policy. It’s a mistake to refer to this as a “neocon resurrection.” They never went anywhere.