E.J. Dionne misses George W. Bush. Not that the liberal columnist was so crazy about W. in office; on the contrary. It's more that the Republicans on stage for their presidential debate in New Hampshire on Monday night – not to mention their pals in Congress – make the former president look like "the reincarnation of Theodore Roosevelt." Start with the fact that they didn't offer a single idea to get the economy moving again that didn't come down to "cutting taxes, slashing regulation or eliminating large swaths of government." Then ponder this: Michele Bachmann, the night's breakout star, nailed it mainly because she "didn't seem crazily extreme" – a low bar. That she come across as almost reasonable (despite calling for abolition of the EPA as a job-creation measure) is a pretty good guage of how ideologically deranged is today's GOP. Hence Dionne's Bush nostalgia. For all his colossal failings – two wars, a yawning deficit etc. – at least Bush acknowledged that "the federal government can ease injustices and get useful things done." He even criticized the view that government is the problem as a "destructive mindset." Imagine one of Monday's debaters saying that; you can't. Instead, we have "the Tea Party furies that now engulf the Republican Party and threaten to turn Michele Bachmann, of all people, into a political giant."
• 'Feeling nostalgic for George W. Bush' [E.J. Dionne/Washington Post]