Noah Millman notices the Bush-era consensus among most of the Republican candidates:

The Presidency of George W. Bush hasn’t been mentioned much on the campaign trail this season, but that doesn’t mean his policies have been repudiated by the various contenders for the nomination – particularly not with respect to foreign policy and the ongoing “War on Terror” – with the exception of Ron Paul. The same can’t entirely be said for domestic policy – there has been some sniping at TARP, some criticism of the level of spending, but nothing resembling a sustained critique – except from Paul. If anybody fits the McGovern mold this time around, it’s Paul, not Gingrich.

The staying power of Bushism is more than a little perplexing. There are many things from Bush’s tenure that the GOP could have decided to reject, but the Iraq war is the most obvious choice. The Iraq war was a drawn-out, unpopular, extremely costly debacle that was mostly identified with Bush and his party by 2006, and it was a significant factor in wrecking the party’s reputation on national security and causing Republicans to lose both houses of Congress. The war in Iraq lasted almost as long as large-scale U.S. involvement in Vietnam, and the majority of the war occurred while Bush was in office. Republicans seemed to have every incentive to repudiate the war as a terrible mistake, but most of them have never done so.

Instead they chose one of the most hawkish defenders of the war as their 2008 nominee, and many Republicans continued to support the war until the bitter end. Then U.S. involvement in Iraq was brought to a formal end while the other party was in power. Republicans were caught up in reflexive opposition to the administration that was gradually bringing it to an end, which was one more obstacle to their recognition of what an enormous mistake the war had been. Vietnam was still very much a major issue in 1972, and the incumbent had become identified with it, so there was an opening for an antiwar nominee in the other party. However, because Obama was elected as an opponent of the Iraq war and pledged to end the U.S. presence in Iraq, most Republican candidates adopted knee-jerk opposition to withdrawal. I’m not discounting other factors in accounting for why Republicans haven’t rejected Bush’s disastrous foreign policy record (e.g., its role as a partisan loyalty test), but Obama’s election as the anti-Iraq war candidate is an important one.